How Much To Tip A Tattoo Artist: Tattooers Weigh In - InkedWay
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How Much To Tip A Tattoo Artist: Tattooers Weigh In

As a rule, tipping your tattoo artist should be incorporated into the overall cost of your tattoo when booking and receiving a new piece of ink. Although tipping your artist is not necessary, numerous artists expect and welcome it.

How much should you tip a tattoo artist?

In this article, we have looked at the opinions of several professional artists, and their own opinions on tipping.

Should You Tip Your Tattoo Artist?

Should You Tip Your Tattoo Artist 

At the end of the day, your tattoo artist will be performing a service for you. Therefore, tips will be gladly accepted – and even encouraged – just like any other service.

Renee Springer, a tattoo artist who works at Tintoretta Tattoo, Kansas City, reminds people that while tattoo artists may seem to get paid high rates throughout their careers, they don’t get to take the whole pay home with them.

Customers must understand, according to Springer, that the majority of tattoo artists pay the business around 50% of each tattoo as commission. Additionally, artists must purchase their own tubes and needles, as well as paying for health insurance and taxation fees.

When you give your tattoo artist a tip, they get to take the entirety of that pay home with them, no matter how large or small that tip may be.

What Does A Tattoo Artist Do?

Some people believe that being a tattoo artist is the ideal job for someone who is creative. It is, in some ways: they get paid to draw and develop designs, and then they have the satisfaction of seeing their designs come to life on the bodies of their customers.

However, the life of a tattoo artist is not as easy as it initially appears.

To become a tattoo artist, an individual must first work as an apprentice for several years, during which time they are usually not compensated. If they do receive a wage from their employer, it is usually quite little.

Due to this, they will need to work a part-time job alongside their apprenticeship, or collect a large amount of savings to live off during this time.

When they finally become professionals, they receive a starting salary of roughly $28,653 per year. As we briefly mentioned, however, a lot of this money goes towards purchasing products for the tattoo studio.

A tattoo artist’s job typically requires a 6- to 7-day work week. Each shift usually lasts somewhere between 8-9 hours a day.

Since each appointment takes considerable attentiveness, and provides minimal opportunity for failure, the job can be both mentally and physically exhausting. Here are just some of the jobs that a tattoo artist is required to complete during their work days:

  • Meeting with clients and discussing tattoo designs
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Creating several designs a day (typically between 2 and 6)
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Tattooing clients

How Tattoo Artists Feel About Tipping

Those In Favor Of Tipping Tattoo Artists

As you may expect from anyone working in a competitive, time-consuming industry, many tattoo artists welcome tips with open arms.

Lauren Caldwell, who works at the Inkuisition in New Jersey, believes that her service should be treated the same as those in other industries, such as waitresses and bar workers.

According to Caldwell, “[Tattooing] is a service, and much like any other service, tipping is encouraged and very important to our industry.”

Those Not In Favor Of Tipping Tattoo Artists

Not every tattoo artist expects tips, or even wants to receive them. Unlike the US, many industries in other countries around the world do not rely on tips, and rarely expect to receive them.

Kel Tait is a tattoo artist from the United Kingdom, who currently works in Logan Square Tattoo in Chicago. In the UK, tipping is not a common practice.

“As a Brit living in the USA, I very often don’t accept tips, or at least give the client half or more of it back,” says Tait. “I appreciate it if I’ve thrown in some extra time for free […] but, I think it’s extremely unfair that people feel like they should have to hand over extra money.”

How Much Should You Tip A Tattoo Artist?

Are Tips Necessary For Every Session

A Chart For Tipping Your Tattoo Artist

In general, the typical tipping percentage for tattoo artists in the United States ranges between 15 and 20%. However, the choice is ultimately yours, and you can choose to pay less or more than this estimate.

Here is a chart for tipping tattooists that you may find helpful:

Tattoo Price15% Tip20% Tip25% Tip

Although most clients understand that tipping on a bespoke tattoo project is customary, Springer believes that artists who do walk-in tattoos and lesser projects should be reimbursed with a gratuity at the conclusion of the session as well.

When it comes to walk-in tattoo appointments, the tattoo artist bears a tremendous deal of responsibility, since he or she must design a high-quality, intricate tattoo and ink it onto the customer in a short amount of time.

As a result, regardless of how much you can afford to tip such workers, it makes sense to do so.

Should You Give A Gift Instead Of A Tip?

While cash is the recommended method of tipping a tattoo artist, some clients prefer to give little gifts to their tattoo artists in lieu of, or in addition to, a tattoo tip.

Caldwell claims she has gotten a variety of items in lieu of tips throughout the years, including cups of coffee, collector coins, as well as a Central Perk coffee mug from the TV show, Friends.

Several tattoo artists agree that it is always a nice surprise when a client gives a gift, and although it is rarely expected, it is almost always welcomed.

However, when it comes to choosing between a gift and cash, a traditional cash tip is probably the best option to go with.

When To Tip A Tattoo Artist

One-Off Tattoos

As we briefly mentioned earlier, it is still polite to give a small tip to your artist, no matter how small your tattoo may be.

Most smaller tattoos only require one appointment to finish, so if you would like to give a tip, you will want to make sure you have some cash on hand before showing up to the venue. Most tattoo shops do not accept tips through card payment.

After the tattoo is completed, it is customary to tip the tattoo artist. It can happen right after your tattoo artist finishes and before you pay, or after you pay at the storefront register.

Multiple Appointments For Larger Pieces

Larger pieces will require more than one appointment to finish, for several reasons. It can be excruciatingly unpleasant and uncomfortable for the client to sit and be tattooed for more than 8 hours, and it can also be exhausting for the artist.

So, how do you tip an artist who is providing more than one appointment to finish a tattoo? Do you tip after every session, or do you wait until the final day to pay all at once?

In the words of Caldwell, “I wouldn’t go out to eat and say, ‘I’ll be back in a month for dessert , and I’ll tip you, then’. Sometimes projects can get delayed due to unexpected life events.”

“If a client would like to wait to do it at the end, and they discuss that with their artist, then that’s understandable.”

As a rule, it is better to tip a small amount after every session, rather than waiting to pay a large tip at the end of the overall procedure.

Final Thoughts

It is important to remember that every tattoo studio you visit will hold different views on tipping. While tipping at least 15% is somewhat expected throughout the US, stores in the UK, for example, would not expect a tip at all.

Additionally, certain artists in the US may refuse a tip. It all depends on the individual, and whether they believe they have earned additional payment or not.

It is also your decision to make. Perhaps you feel that you have already paid a great amount of money for your tattoo, and you don’t want to pay any more.

It is not illegal not to tip for services, but you should consider etiquette in these scenarios. Has your artist done a great job? If so, maybe they deserve some sort of compensation.

We hope you found this article helpful.