When it comes to questions about tattooing there is only one question that is heard more often than "does it hurts," and that questions is "do I tip my artist?" The simple answer is yes, you do.
Of course this leads to 100 other questions: how much do I tip? When do I tip? Do I tip cash? We have the answers to all of your tipping etiquette questions in the gallery below. It's definitely worth a read before you go get your next piece of ink.
This is the #1 most asked question when it comes to tipping. On average between 15%-35%. Think of it the way you would a restaurant—start around 20% and add or subtract based off of the service.
Why tip? One reason is that the majority of the artists have to pay for their own equipment. Ink, needles, machines, etc.
While they may be making bank now, artists spend years putting in an insane amount of hours for bupkis. It's nice to reward them for that work.
Most artists only make MAYBE 50% of what your tattoo costs.
In addition to paying for their materials they may have to pay for their spot at the shop and they have to pay Uncle Sam in the form of taxes. So if you're shelling over $300 don't think that your artist is making the same amount, they aren't.
Did you like your artist? Did they do everything to make you feel comfortable? How's your tattoo?
Consider all of these things when thinking about how much to tip. To make it simple—if you are happy with the ink tip well.
Was it a custom piece or flash off of the wall? Did you collaborate on the idea or was it purely your artist's? How difficult was the tattoo or its placement?Think about the amount of work that the tattoo was for your artist. If you went back and forth coming up with ideas for a while the artist did a ton of work that you're not being charged with, make it worth their while.
When do you tip? If you are getting a multi-session piece you might pay for the entire tattoo at once but you should spread the tip out over each season. Think of it this way, each time your artist does some work they deserve a tip. Plus it's easier on the pocketbook to spread that out over a couple of sessions.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT ask your artist how much they want to be tipped. This is awkward and uncomfortable. Nobody is going to tell you what they actually want, it's such a horrible question to have to field. Honestly, the entire reason we are writing this article is so you don't do this. Seriously, don't ask.
Some people might think that giving some advice is a tip. Or that giving the artist a copy of your band's CD is a tip. Those aren't tips. Those are cheesy ways to try and hide that you are being cheap. There is only one thing that is acceptable to tip—straight cash, homie.
One note on this, if you are legitimate friends with your artist you can switch it up with things you know they love like a bottle of Scotch or something of that ilk.
Tipping is awesome, but if you are happy with your tattoo you can do more once you leave the shop. Recommend your artist to your friends, talk up your artist whenever you are asked about the ink. Just pay it forward in some way or another.