Should I tip my Tattoo Artist?

Whenever someone goes out of their way to deliver a high level of service to you, it’s pretty much common courtesy to pay that person what they are owed, whilst also adding on a little extra for a job well done. Tipping is how the vast majority of people in the service industry make money, yet there are some people out there who don’t believe that tipping is necessary. This is especially true in the tattoo industry, where clients will get worked on for endless hours to get the tattoo of their dreams, only to walk out of the shop afterwards without paying that little extra for a job very well done.
There is perhaps a perception that because good tattoos are expensive then the artist must already be making a tidy sum of money. What people fail to understand is that this is a very competitive industry, and that it may well be days between each sitting for that particular artist. In the meantime, he or she still has to pay overheads such as buying new ink, tattoo machines, and a host of other things to keep the business running smoothly. Not every penny that you hand over for your tattoo goes into the pocket of the artist, but that tip money does.
Okay, so now that it’s clear that you should be tipping your tattooist, the next question is how much should it be. There really is not set figure here, but the general rule of thumb is that you should seriously consider handing over an extra 15-20% over and above the total cost of the tattoo. If you are getting your work done by the shop owner, they may not accept the tip, or you may drop the total down to 10%, but in fairness, we believe that you should just stick with the 15-20% that you normally would.
The rules are the same if you are getting a tattoo, say a major back piece, that has to be done over several different sittings. You are going to have to pay at the end of each session, but you don’t necessarily have to tip at the end of each one. You can wait until the piece is totally done, and then hand over the tip, but it’s a good idea to let your artist know that this is in fact you plan, just as a common courtesy. If you are investing a couple of grand into a tattoo of this size, then 10% really isn’t that bad a tip at all.
Tipping is something that you really need to keep in mind when you are getting a tattoo. Always figure in that extra percentage when pricing the tattoo that you want. If you don’t have enough money to cover a decent tip for the artist, don’t get the work done until you do. Don’t fall into the idea that tattooists should be classified as the starving artist who is doing it for the love of the art. Yes, they may very well love what they do, but they still want to be fairly compensated for delivering excellent service.