Tattoos can be expensive. But you should always reserve a little extra to account for your tattoo artist’s tip.
Many artists expect some tips after completion of a tattoo.”Tipping is a courtesy, but it is more fluid than tipping at a restaurant.” “At a restaurant, your tip helps make up that individual’s wage. In tattooing, your tip is a way to show your artist appreciation for doing a great job.
That means you can tip any amount want and will be appreciated. However, giving an inferior tip (or no tip at all) may be taken as an indication that you are not happy with your tattoo artist performance.
As a tattoo artist, I never expect a tip. They are always appreciated. If you aren’t able to tip, sometimes personalized gifts are fantastic to get too.
Proper etiquette is much the same as many other service industries; 10 % should be a bare minimum, 20% is excellent — couple things to keep in mind. First, most artists work off of a commission basis, so they are often only making around half of what they charged.
While that may seem like it is still the right amount of money, by no means is it a lucrative business for most artists. There is quite a lot of time that they spend not tattooing, i.e., not making money, but still working. So that gets spread out not just for the time they work on you, but all the times they aren’t working, or the times they are drawing or researching for your design. On average, tattoo artists make closer to minimum wage than those that average middle-class income.
Second, the supplies that it takes to do the tattoo, and to draw the design cost money. On average, it can cost the artist as much to set up and do the tattoo as they make from doing the tattoo. Or close enough to make no difference. Many artists have multiple thousands invested in machines and inks, not to mention the supplies that get thrown away after each tattoo. They pay that from the percentage that they receive from the tattoo.
And one that gets overlooked all the time. Tattoo artists are independent contractors. That means no insurance. No workers comp, no unemployment benefits, no paid vacation, none of the compensations a majority of people take for granted.
So the next time you go to get tattooed, realize that most of us do this for the love of tattooing, and not from the money it makes us.
Because it is costly to tattoo, and most of us are barely getting by. Your tips are appreciated, and sometimes the only money that artists will be able to take home to pay bills or eat off. That could be how they make their car payment or take their significant other on a date.
So if your artist takes the time to do a good tattoo, and you want to show you appreciate the hard work and long hours it takes to do this job for you, a tip is a great way to prove it. I promise it will be appreciated. Even if it isn’t needed or expected, it will be appreciated.
I’d say the average tip is around 15%. If you’re pleased with the tattoo, take a stack of business cards and spread the word to everyone who asks about it, because that definitively helps. While tips are appreciated, and even if the client decides not. It won’t affect how I do my job if you don’t.