Do You Need to Tip Your Tattoo Artist?

Tattoo Tipping

While it’s pretty much expected that you tip your server not everyone tips their artist. Tipping in service industries has been long debated, but while your artist isn’t likely to be making $2.21 an hour, tipping still applies. There are two extremes of people when it comes to tipping – those who proudly leave 20% and those who don’t believe anyone should get tipped because they’re just “doing their job”.
You SHOULD tip your artist.

Why should you tip your tattoo artist?

Those that don’t tip their artist often believe that it’s justified because tattoos are expensive. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with whether they think the artist did a good job. It’s simply that they either a) don’t have the extra money or b) don’t believe they should be paying on top of the tattoo price.

The sucky thing here is that most artists have to pay for their own equipment, supplies, machines, even paper towels, and on top of that you’re not actually paying for the time it takes them to draw. Often artists come into the shop before work or work after they’re finished tattooing for the day, on drawings for tattoos so that they can spend their official hours tattooing clients like you. Most artists work on a commission basis similar to hairstylists, only there’s no base salary. This means that while your tattoo may cost $100 they’re probably only making half that, minus taxes, and minus the cost of their supplies. This means that for every $100 the artist may make $20-40. Now if you take that for an hourly wage that’s still not bad, but they don’t work every hour and sometimes your tattoo takes longer so that rate goes down.

On top of their daily costs your artist likely went through an apprenticeship. That means for a time they worked unpaid, eventually building up to asking a small fee (usually the shop minimum). They put weeks and months of hard work in the name of experience without getting paid a dime. Putting in their own money into getting supplies.

Ask yourself did they do a good job?

Even if you still don’t believe that your artist is going above and beyond what your tattoo actually costs, the simple question of “did they do a good job?” should answer whether you need to tip them or not.

Tipping for service in most countries is seen as a reward for going above and beyond the job they were expected to do. Were they personable? Did they give you an amazing piece? Even if you just picked something off the wall your artist probably did the best job they could on it. If they created a custom piece for you from scratch or revamped something you got years ago and made it new again then they most likely did beyond the requirement for that piece.

How much should you tip your tattoo artist?

Anything between 15-30% is pretty standard but I’ve seen people tip up to 100% of the tattoo cost for small pieces and even as much as 50% on bigger pieces. I actually had a guy offer me $100 tip on a $50 tattoo as long as he could stick it in my cleavage. (Yes I took it.) Most artists prefer cash tips rather than charging them because it’s easier for tax purposes, and they don’t have to pay credit card fees on it. Even if you haven’t got it on you right then, stop in a day later and thank them, they’ll appreciate the gesture.

Checkout our guide for how to pick your tattoo artist.

So, tip your tattoo artist.

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