Much like every industry, tattooing has its own etiquette for everything from being inked whilst drunk to having friends to a meeting. Tipping is a big aspect of the tattoo label, but it also has a set of rules that can often make tipping seem vague or needless. And while tipping isn’t fully required, it’s necessary—especially if you want to establish strong ties with your musicians.
While just how much tip is up for discussion and fairly dependent on your tattoo style and practise, it still plays a major role in ink experience. Almost all service-based jobs have a tilting aspect, and it’s usually the same with tattoos.
The Reason You Should Tip a Tattoo Artist
Tattooing is a service and, like every other service sector, customers should consider tagging their tattoo artists,” said Tyson Weed, owner and tattoo artist at Sentient Tattoo Collective in Tempe, AZ. “Many people don’t know how much time and work it takes to create a tattoo.
That’s particularly valid if you’re having a custom design, Weed says. He notices that a lot of effort goes into the artist’s journey between meetings with clients and the final meeting. Artists spend a few hours painting, creating, picking colours, if necessary, searching for reference images, designing and sometimes doing it again. Plus, most musicians are responsible for a lot of money behind the scenes, including purchasing their own supplies or paying rent to their store, which can add up quickly.
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Although tips are still welcomed and promoted by tattoo artists, Michaelle Fiore of Beaver Tattoo in Queens, NY says they’re not something artists expect. It’s kind of a way to let the artists know that you enjoy your tattoo and respect their hard work. Not tipping is a possibility, but remember that it is likely to leave a bitter taste in your artist’s mouth. In the very least, it’s not going to help you develop a strong relationship with them.
“A tip is a kindness that tells the tattoo artist that you respect the time, commitment, and skills they put into your tattoo,” Fiore said.
How Much Should You Tip a Tattoo Artist?
If you plan to give a tip, the next move is to determine precisely how much to add to the final tattoo amount. The common opinion in the tattoo world is that 20% is the average level of tip—just as in a restaurant or a hair salon. However, take this figure to be a benchmark, since some tattoos need more or less effort than others. Just like there’s no one tattoo experience or expense, there’s no one-size-fits-all tipping alternative.
“The more you pay on the tattoo, the more you need to tip, so they’re putting more time into the piece,” Fiore said.
Weed, though, notices that there is one thing that any tattoo experience requires to offer a tip: it needs to be amazing. Your artist is spending time behind the scenes with your tattoo, so it’s still their job to make sure you’re happy and have a nice time when it’s going on.
“A great experience doesn’t just mean you’re in love with your new tattoo,” Weed said. “Your artist should listen to you, make you feel relaxed, clarify post-care tattooing, and maintain a sterile atmosphere.”
Show Appreciation To Your Tattoo Artist
At the top of any monetary advice, tattoo artists often enjoy the tip of the social media screaming and a nice, five-star review, Weed says. If you have liked your journey, let the world know! This is how people not only work out whether an artist is decent or not, but it also raises their names in search engines. This, in fact, gives them a lot of publicity.
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Tipping might not be necessary, but it’s a way to say that you respect all the hard work and effort—physical and monetary—that your artist has put into your latest tattoo. Remember, the tip isn’t about you, it’s about the artist. If your artist has made a fine, excellent or outstanding tattoo experience, a tip is a genuine way to express your appreciation. Plus, it’s helping their company out in the long term. “When you show the artist that you’re thankful for their talent, it makes them make and share more artwork with the world—which, at the end of the day, is what it’s all about!” Fiore said. The easiest thumb rule you can adopt is to tip at least 20% of the actual cost of your operation, and tip even higher for custom, elaborate projects. This is the human thing to do.