how much to tip tattoo artists

Tipping your tattoo artist is a piece of etiquette that shouldn’t go overlooked. If you’re wondering why that’s the case and how much to tip tattoo artists, you’re in luck. We’re about to cover that topic thoroughly.

While tattooing has existed in many different forms for thousands of years, its modern American incarnation has only been around for about 150 years. In that time, it’s experienced many different legal hurdles and stylistic shifts. These days, it’s a well-established right of passage, with 1 in 5 people claiming to sport ink.

With the acceptance of tattooing as a legitimate art form, tattoo artists have been catapulted into a sort of celebrity they were never exposed to in the past. They’re also now rightly seen as professionals who are held in the same esteem as any other tradesmen.

Why You Should Tip

First and foremost, it’s important to see tattooing for what it is. When an artist tattoos you, they’re rendering a highly personalized service. Within the service industry, tipping is understood to be standard, and tattooing is no exception.

Bartenders, waitstaff, nail artists, hairstylists, and more are all deemed worthy of tipping by society at large. Not to diminish those careers, but in comparison, tattooing is an even more work-intensive and personal service. If those professions are deserving of tips, tattooers are as well.

Also, like the other professions we listed, tattooers don’t keep all the profit from their services. In fact, most tattooers only see about 30-70 percent of the profit from the services they render.

If you’re wondering where the rest of the money goes, think of the model employed by many hair salons. Often times, tattooers pay the equivalent of a booth rental fee. The money they pay to the shop generally goes to pay for expenses like rent, utilities, supplies, paying shop staff like managers, and many other costs you probably wouldn’t think of.

Taxes are another thing to take into account. Being an independent contractor means that tattoo artists don’t get taxes taken out of their payments. This often leads to owing the government quite a lot of money come tax season, and your tips help soften that blow.

Tipping is also a great way to leave a good impression on your artist. After all, the relationship needs to go both ways. Tipping them shows that you’re invested in their career and pleased with the work they do, which makes your relationship that much smoother moving forward.

how much to tip tattoo artists

How Much to Tip Tattoo Artists

The biggest thing to remember here is that there’s no hard rule for how much to tip tattoo artists. Tattooers don’t necessarily expect to be tipped, but they definitely always appreciate it.

As with tipping waitstaff, 15-20 percent is a good standard. So, if you pay $200 for a tattoo, you’re looking at a $30-50 tip. That said, you can tip more or less, depending on several factors.

For one thing, your tip will depend on how pleased you are with the work. If you don’t like the work, it makes sense that you would tip less. Although this is something you’d likely want to discuss with your artist.

Another reason you might tip less or choose not to tip is that a tattooer was rude to you. Again, like with waitstaff and other service industry professionals, attitude is a big deal. You want to be treated with dignity and respect, but this is another thing that should prompt a conversation if you’re unpleased.

In most instances, tipping is appropriate and encouraged. While you can tip less than 15%, try to avoid it. Good work should be rewarded, and being broke is no excuse not to tip. If you don’t have the money to tip your artist, you’ve got no business being tattooed in the first place.

Also, you should tip in cash if you can. This ensures that your tattoo artist gets the entirety of the tip and avoids any service fees or taxes. If you plan to tip with a trade of goods or services, be sure to clear that with them ahead of time to make sure it’s ok.

The best time to tip is at after your appointment. After all, you’re tipping them based on their professionalism and the quality of their work, so there’s nothing wrong with waiting to make sure you’re pleased with the experience before you tip.

You also don’t need to let your tattooer know you’re tipping, but it’s not a bad idea. That way they know you didn’t accidentally overpay them or think they owe you change. In some rare instances, a tattooer might not accept tips if they’re the owner of the shop, but that’s very unlikely to be the case.

In 99% of cases, there’s no reason to ask your artist about tipping if you plan on tipping them with cash. Almost every single tattooer will accept and appreciate tips, so asking makes for an awkward and unnecessary conversation.

how much to tip tattoo artists

Don’t Skip the Tip

Now that you know how much to tip tattoo artists, you’ve got no excuse to not do it. Tattooers work hard to make your vision a reality, and they put permanent art right on your skin. Surely, that deserves a little extra consideration.

Of course, if you’re a tattooer yourself, you already know all this, and getting tips is probably the least of your concerns. Managing your finances and schedule is a time consuming and hectic task. A great way to earn more tips as a tattoo artist is to integrate credit card processing with your tattoo software, the integrated credit card processing will prompt your client for a tip at checkout and handle all your tips automatically.


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