How Much Should You Tip Your Tattoo Artist?

Just like anywhere where you’re being provided with a certain service, tattooing also has some rules on behaving and tipping. For example, when intoxicated, you won’t be tattooed, and when you do get a tattoo, you need to tip your tattoo artist for time-consuming and dedicated work.

Sure, you „don’t have to tip the tattoo artist that just did a permanent work of art on your body“. But it surely is a rule of tattoo etiquette one should follow, especially if you want to create a bond with your tattoo artist, for future projects. Otherwise, you’re just being rude.

Nevertheless, the tipping rules can be a bit complicated and usually involve factors like how long did it take for your tattoo to be complete, where it was placed and how complicated was the design. So, in the following paragraphs we’ll teach you all about tipping; how much should you tip your tattoo artists, and what to do if the final result isn’t up your alley.

Tipping Etiquette: 2 Things You Should Know

Tipping Etiquette
Image Credit: Saved Tattoo

1. Why Do People Tip Tattoo Artists?

When you think about it, tattoos can cost up to several thousand dollars, and you need to put in the money to get a professionally done tattoo. So, why, on top of all that money, do people need to tip the tattoo artists? Well, there are several reasons one should follow one of the most important rules of tattoo etiquette;

  1. Custom design tattoo requires a lot of work, effort, and creativity
  2. It can take hours to come up with a design, do all the drawing, layout the design, and choose the color scheme
  3. The artist has to buy their own supplies for the tattoo
  4. They have to work on your tattoo for one or several sessions, depending on the size and complexity of the tattoo
  5. They are responsible for something that will permanently stay on your body
  6. Tipping shows your appreciation for their expertise and good work
  7. Tipping builds a bond between the customer and the tattoo artist

All service-based industries require tipping as a sign of appreciation, and the same goes for tattooing. This is a personalized service, and tipping makes the tattoo artists more dedicated to work and their clients. Sure, they are required to provide good work regardless of the tipping, but a sign of appreciation is always welcome. Just as you tip your taxi driver or a waiter, then tipping the tattoo artists shouldn’t be in question at all.

It would be useful to know that tattoo artists are not paid hourly. They earn a percentage of the total amount of money you pay for the final tattoo. This means that tattoo artists rely heavily on tips as a source of income. Tipping also allows the artists to buy all the necessary equipment and support themselves as professional tattoo artists.

2. How Much Should You Tip?

Tipping is calculated based on different factors, like;

  • Whether the design was original or used
  • Whether the tattoo is big or small
  • Whether the tattoo was done in one or several sessions
  • Whether the tattoo was complicated and intricate, or not
  • Whether the tattoo is placed somewhere simple or complicated on the body
  • Whether the tattoo required coloring and details, etc.

Generally, you should tip the tattoo artists around 20% to 30% on top of the final tattoo price. The tattoo community usually presents these numbers as the most common tipping amount. But, 20% or 30% are just the basic numbers; you should always tip taking into consideration all the aforementioned factors.

For example, if your tattoo artist is doing a large tattoo somewhere complicated on the body, and it requires several longer sessions, it would be rude to not tip or to tip less 20%. You need to adjust the tipping numbers according to the complexity of the tattoo and the amount of work the artist has put in creating and executing it.

So, now that we’ve established the basic rules of tipping, let’s take a look at some typical tipping percentages in accordance with the final tattoo cost;

  • If the tattoo price is $100 you can tip 20% ($20), or 30% ($30)
  • If the tattoo price is $600 you can tip 20% ($120) or 30% ($180)
  • If the tattoo price is $1000 you can tip 20% ($200) or 30% ($300)
  • If the tattoo price is $1500 you can tip 20% ($300) or 30% ($450)
  • If the tattoo price is $2000 you can tip 20% ($400) or 30% ($600)
  • If the tattoo price is $2500 you can tip 20% ($500) or 30% ($750)

You see where we’re going with these numbers; the higher the price of the tattoo, the higher the tip of course. It may seem a lot of money, but that is the standard tipping amount. So, when calculating your budget for a new tattoo, make sure to include the tipping amount as well, so you don’t get all surprised later when you get a tattoo.

If you’re wondering what is the lowest and acceptable amount you can tip, we recommend never go below 15% for the total tattoo price.

Tattoo Tipping: More FAQs

Tattoo Cost FAQs
Saved Tattoo

1. When Do You Tip?

You should not tip the tattoo artists before the tattoo is completely done. After all the work is done and the total cost of the tattoo is established is when you should decide how much to tip the artist.

It is recommended you always pay for your tattoos in cash since it is easier to tip that way. Also, the majority of tattoo shops do not accept credit card tips, so you’d have to bring some cash either way.

2. Do You Tip If The Tattoo Is Bad?

Well, the aforementioned advice does stand in case you like the tattoo. But, what happens when the artist does a bad job and you’re dissatisfied with the final result. Well, one thing you can do for sure is ask the tattoo artist to correct and fix the tattoo free of charge; it was their fault after all. Or, you can simply not tip the artist at all.

But, here’s the deal; sometimes the fact that you don’t like the final tattoo is not the artist’s fault at all. Even if you’re dissatisfied with the final result, you should tip the artist in case they;

  • Come up with a custom design
  • Put up several tattooing sessions
  • Commit to detailing, coloring, or shading
  • Walk you through the whole tattooing process
  • Help you with the pain and provided a coping mechanism
  • Answer all of your questions
  • Prove they work with clean, sanitized tools
  • Wear gloves during the process
  • Advise you on proper aftercare routine
  • Offer to fix the tattoo free of charge
  • Provide an overall pleasant experience

3. Do You Tip If You’re On a Budget?

It is generally recommended to avoid getting a tattoo if you don’t have the money to tip the artist. If you play a fool and go to get a tattoo, but don’t tip afterward, then you’re just being rude. In such a case, you best avoid that tattoo shop in the future if you decide to get another tattoo.

Note: Some tattoo artists allow their clients to tip on a ‘season basis’. This means that the clients get several tattoos, and by the end accumulate the tipping amount for all the tattoos done by the artist. This can be useful in case you don’t have the tipping money right away, and you plan on getting more tattoos in the future. However, before you go for such a solution, make sure to talk to your tattoo artists and see if they allow such tipping practices.

4. Do I Always Have To Tip In Money?

Well, the truth is, the majority of tattoo artists only accept monetary tips. However, if you cannot afford a 20% tip, then you can contact the tattoo artist and explain your situation. If that is too embarrassing for you, then simply ask if they accept tips in form of gifts, for example. But, do not use this as a way to get out of tipping! If you do have the money, then tip the artist, and if you don’t, then try saving up or avoid getting a tattoo until you have enough money.

5. How Else Can I Show Appreciation For The Tattoo Artist?

You can show the appreciation for a good work in many different ways! For example, if  you like the work your tattoo artist did, then take a picture of it (possibly the tattoo artist or the shop as well) and share it on your social media.

This way you can provide excellent exposure for the artists and their shop, and attract new clients. So, if you love your new tattoo, then let everybody know and post the pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media. This will not only attract new people but also boost the tattoo shop’s name on the search engines. The exposure they can receive from only one post can be incredible.

Note: This, of course, means showing appreciation alongside tipping; it doesn’t exclude you from tipping the tattoo artist.

6. What Other Rules Does The Tattoo Etiquette Comprise?

  • Know what you want, and make an appointment!
  • Bring pictures and references of what you want the tattoo to look like!
  • Do not ask for the artist’s professional opinion if you’re not going to follow it!
  • Do not get upset if the artist refuses your idea or gives an honest opinion about something!
  • Do not bargain the tattoo price!
  • Do not compare your existing tattoos price to show the artists that they’re expensive!
  • Make sure to start tipping at 20%!
  • Come clean and washed to the tattooing session!
  • Pass the tattoo session if you’re not feeling okay; you don’t want to spread a cold or COVID-19 in the tattoo shop!
  • Let your tattoo artist know if you have a medical condition, or if you’re pregnant!
  • Let your artist know if you’re on any medication, or if you’re intoxicated!
  • Do not come to a tattoo session drunk!
  • Do not bring children to your tattoo session!
  • Do not bring your friends to keep you company during the tattooing session, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Final Thoughts

Even though it is not mandatory and always required, tipping is the best way to show appreciation for a good job regardless of the service industry. But, when it comes to tattooing, it is even more appreciated and surely a part of the tattoo etiquette because the artists rely on tips heavily as a part of their income.

If you’re not going to tip, or you cannot tip as much as expected, then let your tattoo artist know before you start getting tattooed. We recommend you save some cash and then go get a tattoo, rather than avoiding or postponing tipping. If you have the money to tip, then start at 20% and raise the tip from there.

At some places, it is fine to start at 15%, but we encourage you to do the tipping properly and stick with the minimum of 20%. It is a decent thing to do and it will strengthen the bond between you and your tattoo artist, so you get some extra love the next time you come for a tattoo.

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