5 Things You Need to Know about Tipping Your Tattoo Artist

Tipping your tattoo artist is one of the cornerstones of tattoo etiquettes, and yes tattoo etiquette is a real thing. From your hygiene as a client to avoiding continuous remodeling of your tattoo while they are working, customers do not pay attention tattoo etiquette as much as most tattoo artists would like. However, the most overlooked etiquette is clients tipping their tattoo artists.

While other etiquettes are obviously very important, like showering before getting a tattoo and not micromanaging your tattoo while they are working, tipping takes much higher precedence. So before you go out to get your favorite tattoo, here is a little refresher on why you should tip your artist and how much should you give.

Tipping Your Tattoo Artist

Why Tip a Tattoo Artist


Tipping plays a very large role in your tattoo process, more so than other types of services. Nearly all service-based industries have tipping as a way to show how much you appreciate a worker’s personalized service. Jobs like cab driving, bartending, and hairstyling, just to name a few, very famously receive tips for their service. So it only makes sense that you also tip tattoo artists who arguably work much harder than most of the services mentioned before.

Artists undoubtedly have to pay a lot of attention to each of their clients and deserve compensation for their services. Same as how a waiter deserves a tip for their service, tattoo artists also deserve it if not more. If you don’t skip out on tipping a waiter for their service, you shouldn’t skip out on tipping your tattoo artist.

Another reason why tipping is important for tattoo artists is that they do not receive all of the money that you pay them for their efforts. Much like in every service based industry; service workers only receive a certain percentage of money for their services.

Tattoo artists often take somewhere between 30% and 70% of every tattoo’s earnings, as the rest goes back into the shop. These earnings help in paying the shops bills and for some of the utilities. Some artists even have to buy their own supplies, which makes this price cut understandably unfair.

Finally, you want to leave a good impression on your tattoo artist in case you come back, and offering them a tip is one of the fastest ways to make them your friend. It’s very important to show that you appreciate your artist’s talents and their efforts so that they can show a lot more passion for your future projects. Besides, the last thing that you would want is a tattoo artist who doesn’t like you.

How Much Do I Tip?

Now that you understand why tipping, especially in the case of a tattoo artist, is so incredibly crucial, it’s time to take a look at how much should you pay them. Now there is no limit on big of a type that you can give your artist, obviously. If they truly stole your heart with their tattoo, then the sky is the limit.

However, in most cases, you don’t have millions of dollars worth of pocket change to give to your artist freely, so you (and the artist) will have to settle for less. It is important to understand that you shouldn’t just hand them a tip of a few dollars for their services, as that can be a little disrespectful. And while they might not say it out loud, they will silently judge you; hence why it is important for you to know the general etiquette to tipping a tattoo artist for their work.

Tipping the Artist

A much agreed upon metric for tips among most tattoo artists at least 15% for their tattoos. So if your artist takes $150 an hour and works for four hours, your bill will be $600. But you will have to pay your artist at least $90(15%) as a tip for their efforts. Now, this is, of course, a tip for mid-priced tattoos but this 15% can look quite hefty on more expensive tattoos like those that cost over $1500 or $2000.

On $1500 alone, your 15% tip can look like $225, and this is not a price most people are will to give. So on most orders that exceed $2000, tattoo artists will also accept a tip of 10% for the total bill as it can also make quite the hefty tip for the artist.

Now if you are someone who doesn’t want to go through the complexities of doing the math about how much you have to pay them, you can always give them a predetermined amount of money. Most clients tend to do this, as they give their artist a $100 regardless of how complex or how much time the tattoo took.

However, for some people, even 10% of their total order is a little too much to ask. With loans, rent, and bills, it is easy to see why people may struggle to pay a tip up front. And if you feel this is getting a little too relatable, then here is how you can still tip on a budget.

Also See: Top 12 Tattoo Shops In New York City

Tipping On a Budget

If your expenditure is running a little low, but you really need that one tattoo of Patrick yawning, you can still get that tattoo and still tip them in a way that is favorable to you.

Talk to your artist about your situation and ask them if they are ok with you tipping them on a session basis. Through this, you can easily pay your tips with every session that can accumulate to your total tip that you were going to pay them originally. This can be a real lifesaver, especially when your tattoo takes a longer period to complete.


To Tip or Not to Tip?

Although tipping is surely a great way of showing how you’re thanks to the person providing you a service, it is not essential. Contrary to popular belief, tattoo artists (and many other service employees) do not expect to get tips for the services that they offer.

Many employees do not indulge in wishful thinking that clients will pay them extra for their efforts. So even if you were to get up and leave the shop, the artist won’t stop you and ask for their tip. It is general courtesy to give your artist a tip that shows that you are grateful.

But if you are low on cash, or have a genuine reason, you can simply not pay the artist a tip. And even though people talk about tips as an absolute necessity, you can give tips only when you feel like your artist did a good job.

Gifts in the Place Of Tips

This is a strange thing to ask, but this is becoming a very common trend among various tattoo artists. Instead of giving them a few hundred dollars in the form of a tip, some are also willing to accept certain gifts as a replacement for their tip.

Although it is completely okay to offer your artist gifts instead of cold hard cash, it is not okay to offer them services or advice in the place of their original payment. Bartering a deal with an artist is not only an awkward conversation to have, but it comes off as very disrespectful and downright offensive.

So if an artist, who is your friend, decided to ink you if you do a favor for them like working on their car, taking a look at their advertising plan, or what not, then it is fine to strike a trade. But unless you have an explicit agreement with the artist, you shouldn’t have any expectations that you can pay with anything other than your cash.

When to Tip ann Artist?

Now, this is quite the obvious statement, but you should tip your artist after your session or after they complete your tattoo. Since your tip is a reflection of how much you love their work, it only makes sense that you only tip them after you they complete the tattoo. But if you know the artist, you can tip them after each session.


How Much Should I Tip My Tattoo Artist?

A much agreed upon amount to pay your tattoo artists is 10%-20% of the total bill. But if you don’t want to get into the complications of calculating this, you can always set a pre determined amount to give to your artist.

Can I Tip Them With Gifts?

Yes you can, but not all artists are willing to accept a gift instead of money. So unless both of you reach a mutual agreement you can expect tipping in cash.

Can I Pay For My Tattoo With Gifts or Services?

Unless you know the artist on a personal level, no you cannot. And as a client, you shouldn’t make that offer, as it is very disrespectful for the artist.

What If I Can’t Afford Tipping Them?

Tipping is and always has been optional. If you have a genuine reason why you can’t tip or feel like the quality of the ink is not up to par, you can skip tipping them. Most artists are very understanding, and do not make a big scene if you say no.


Tattoo Artists hold a very strange place in the service based worker industry. Where barbers, waiters, and cab drivers can expect the same person or a multitude of people to show up multiple times through the year, tattoo artists offer their services to people they don’t expect to see ever again throughout their career. Hence why their strange place makes a thing like tips a little more complicated than they should be.

And while tattoo artists don’t hold tipping against you, especially if you have a genuine reason, some may silently judge you. So if you do plan on getting one tattoo and never visiting the artist again, be sure to leave them at least a 15% tip. On the other hand, if you plan on visiting them again, you can leave them a smaller but still quite a sizeable tip.