Tattoo Etiquette: How Much to Tip Your Tattoo Artist    

In most places, tipping your server after receiving personal service like in a restaurant or at the salon is customary.

Getting a tattoo is also a form of availing a personalized service, so tipping is also part of the experience. However, it can be a bit of a problem to determine how much tip you should give to your artist after a job well done. Should you tip the same amount every time? Should it be proportional to the difficulty of the job?

Considering this, we have prepared a guide with everything you need to know about tipping your tattoo artist so that the next time you pay them a visit, you’ll know just how much to tip.

tipping tattoo artist

Tipping: Requirement or Optional?

The answer to this is that, in most cases, tipping is, indeed, optional but customary, so many people do it anyway. If it’s optional, why do people do it?

There are many reasons why a customer tips after receiving personal service. It can range from deeming it an obligation to simply wanting to show their servers their appreciation for giving them a good service experience.

Nevertheless, whatever the reason is, tipping after receiving a personal service is always a good idea, especially since in many cases, those servers rely on customers’ tips to augment their low earnings.

On the other hand, there are also some cases when tipping is not a thing, such as in Japan, in which tipping can be sometimes seen as a form of insult to a server’s work ethic. This isn’t always the case though because many understand that there is a cultural difference. In any case, there is no reason to be offended in case the tip you offered is refused.

However, tipping is still generally a common practice. So, tip if you can, especially if you had a wonderful experience with your server.

How Much Do People Normally Tip?

There are many debates on the proper percentage of tips. Most would suggest tipping 15 – 20% of your pre-tax bill is already generous enough, but some would argue that such amount is just average. Nowadays, a generous tip is somewhere around 20 – 30% of your bill.

However, there are no rules when it comes to this, and it’s still ultimately up to you how much you are going to tip or if you are even going to tip.

Getting a Tattoo: Should You Tip Your Artist? Why?

In the case of getting tattoos, some customers may be reluctant to tip their tattoo artists afterwards because of the hefty price of the service sometimes.

However, unless they are operating independently, they don’t get the whole paid amount because the tattoo parlor gets a considerable chunk of the said amount.

Moreover, tattooing someone is a labor-intensive job, especially if the customer’s chosen design is detailed and intricate.

Tattooing is also an art form that requires plenty of time, dedication, and practice. It took them months – even years – of devoted and continuous practice to acquire the ability to accurately execute and produce the artwork that their client would want to bear.

In fact, tattooing is even harder because their canvas is human skin, which varies from person to person and part to part.

Additionally, like most artists, tattoo artists rely heavily on commissions because, in most places, tattooing is only considered a freelance job and, therefore, aren’t paid steady wages.

This can be difficult for them because they need to invest in equipment and materials such as the inks and needles. These are things they can’t skimp on because doing so will hurt their business.

Furthermore, since this involves inking the human skin, they will need to keep their equipment in top shape and can’t reuse the needles or else they’ll risk the health of their clients.

Therefore, tipping them after doing a great job on your tattoo would not only be a good way to show the artist your appreciation for their artwork, but it will also help them continue their business. In addition to this, it will also help you build a good relationship with your artist, which will also benefit you if you plan on becoming a regular customer.

However, it is still ultimately up to you if you will tip them. It is not considered mandatory, but tipping your artist, especially if you love their work, will go a long way.

Tipping Your Artist: How Much Should You Tip?

You’ve decided that tipping your tattoo artist is a must or, at the very least, consider it a nice gesture. The question now is how much should you tip?

Like other types of services, there is no established percentage for tipping tattoo artists. Some would probably suggest that the standard 10-20% is enough. Some might say that it’s too low and should go a touch higher.

For tattooing, a fair amount to tip your artist would be around 20 to 30% of your total. However, some might balk at that percentage because tattoos oftentimes don’t come cheap, especially for those looking to get highly intricate customized designs.

Besides, not everyone has the same level of income so a 30 or even 20% tip can be hard on the pocket. This, along with several other factors, can affect your decision when it comes to tipping your tattoo artist.

Tipping 101: Factors to Consider When Tipping Your Artist

We have established that, while you want to tip your tattoo artist for turning your dream tattoo into a reality, giving a tip worth 20 to 30% of your overall bill can be difficult for some.

In this part, we will tackle the factors that you can and should take into account when deciding the tipping amount.

  • Quality of Service Given

The quality of their given service is the first thing you need to consider when giving a tip. This is because, in the service industry, the quality of the service given can make or break the experience, especially if it’s your first time.

The quality of service can even determine whether or not you will become a regular customer of that particular place.

Considering this, it only makes sense that it goes the same for getting a tattoo since tattooing is a form of personalized service. So, when it’s time to pay and tip, you need to weigh whether or not the service was good enough to warrant a huge tip.

Was the service satisfactory? Did they meet your expectations? Or did they go above and beyond just to make the experience wonderful and memorable for you?

These are just some of the questions you might want to ask yourself before deciding how much to tip.

  • The Complexity of Your Tattoo

This includes the intricacy and size of the tattoo you want to be done. The difficulty of your tattoo is especially important to consider when you’re getting a highly complex and customized design. This is because it will take more time, effort, and materials to get your desired design exactly as you want it. Additionally, if it’s a big piece, it might even take you several visits to get it done.

Therefore, consider giving a generous tip if your chosen design is difficult to do. It does, after all, take an immense amount of time, dedication, and skill for the artist to give you the art exactly how you want it.

Tipping Your Tattoo Artist: Some Tips to Remember

Here are some tips you may want to keep in mind when you go in for your next tattoo and can’t decide how much to tip your artist.

  1. Make sure to include the tip in your budget.

Before getting a tattoo, it would be a good idea to already consider the tip as part of your final cost; it’s kind of like a fixed service charge. This way, when it comes to tattooing day, you already have the cash to give your artist that tip.

  1. If you can’t add it to the budget, wait.

This means that if you don’t have enough to give them a tip, then maybe you should wait for another paycheck before getting that tattoo.

After all, it is a service, and tipping is common in the industry. Moreover, if you can afford that tattoo, then giving your artist a tip shouldn’t be a problem.

  1. If you’re going to need several visits, decide ahead of time when you’ll give the tip.

Tipping when you need several visits can be confusing. Should you tip after each session or after the final one? Already factor when you’ll tip if you need several trips since you will have to discuss the piece with your artist beforehand anyway.

Some people would tip after each session, but if you’re planning to go for the latter, then make sure you inform your artist as well, so they don’t feel like you’re stiffing them.

  1. Have a fixed minimum and maximum amount.

Once you have enough money to tip your artist, set a minimum and maximum amount for yourself and adjust accordingly. This means you should set the minimum amount you’re willing to give and adjust it according to the quality of service.

  1. Stay within the accepted percentage of tips.

If you’re going to tip, make sure you stay within the range of what’s acceptable. This shouldn’t be a problem if you already considered it part of the budget.

As mentioned before, a tip of somewhere between 20-30% would suffice. If you’re feeling generous, you can go higher, but it’s unnecessary.

Giving Gifts: Can You Give Gifts as Your Tip?

The short answer is no. Giving gifts or offering your services as a form of quid pro quo instead of tipping in cash is a huge no-no in the service industry. This is because they are giving you a personalized skilled service. It is, therefore, inappropriate to give them gifts instead of a cash tip.

Some might ask: what about the holidays?

Let’s say you’re the type of person to give something extra during the holidays to service people like your mailman, your hairdresser, or in this case, your tattoo artist. Can you give them a gift then?

Sure, that something extra is up to you. However, you still should not do it as a replacement for cash tips. Doing so is disrespectful to them as a service provider and as an artist.


Some Additional Things to Remember When Giving a Tip:

Yes, there’s already a section about things to remember. However, that list focuses on the financial aspect of tipping and ignores other relevant factors. So, here are some other things you should keep in mind when deciding how much and/or whether or not you are going to tip your artist.


  1. They are artists.

Emphasis on artists. Why is this important? Tattoo artists, like all artists, take pride in their work. They pour all their dedication, effort, and skill in each piece they create.

Additionally, they often think of each piece of artwork as a part of themselves.

This is why giving them a tip if you love their work, especially a generous one, not only helps them continue their business, but it also boosts their confidence in their skills as an artist. This can give them both the motivation and initiative to continue honing their skills as artists but also their skills as a service provider.

  1. Tattooing is a difficult process that requires skill and precision.

Putting an artwork or design onto human skin is a difficult thing to do, and the process through which tattoo artists undergo to get the necessary skills is tough and harsh.

Therefore, if your tattoo artist did a great job on your piece, then consider giving them a generous tip. Even if the design was simple, it still required immense skill and precision on the artist’s part to ensure that it comes out perfect.

  1. They are providing you with personalized service.

If you’re willing to tip your server generously, then why not tip your tattoo artist the same way? After all, tattooing is a much more personal experience compared to eating at a restaurant.

If your artist manages to execute the design you wanted exactly the way you wanted it to be or even better, then tipping generously is a good way to show your appreciation.

  1. Tattooing equipment is expensive.

As mentioned before, tattoo artists invest most of their earnings in their equipment and materials, and they can be quite expensive. In addition to this, they have to pay for other needs as well like rent, bills, health care, and, in some places, a license.

Furthermore, if they’re from a tattoo parlor, a chunk of their earnings goes to the parlor to pay for rent, utilities, and other necessities.

This is why despite the expensive nature of getting tattoos, they don’t make all that much. So, if you can afford to tip generously, it will go a long way in helping your tattoo artist.

  1. Again, tips in any other form than cash is a no-no.

Tipping in the form of praises, gifts, or your services in exchange is disrespectful to your tattoo artist as both an artist and a professional giving you a service.

Just consider being in their shoes. If you’re a professional as well, would you accept tips in any form other than cash? If yes, then good for you, but you still shouldn’t do it to your tattoo artist.

They are offering you a personal one-on-one service – sometimes with help from an assistant – and cash is the only tip you should give them.

Anything extra beyond that is up to you, but it’s unnecessary.


Throughout history, tattoos have been a part of many cultures across the world. Traditionally,  even up to now in some places, tattoos are meant to be symbolic and often require some huge achievement or enough merits in order to finally earn one. Moreover, only elders or persons of power can grant you permission to bear a tattoo.

Nowadays, most people consider tattoos as a medium for personal expression. It now only requires money to get one done by a professional artist.

Getting a tattoo done by a professional artist is a form of service, and tipping your artist for services rendered should be a common practice.

The answer to the question of how much you should tip your tattoo artist depends entirely on you because there are really no established rules on tipping. You can even choose not to tip if you don’t want to, but choosing to do so will go a long way with your tattoo artist.

After having all that considered, we can certainly say that you should tip your tattoo artist generously if you can. It will ensure not only that your tattoo artist can keep doing your tattoos, but also that you will be provided with an even better service on your next visit. After all, what’s 20-30% of the total cost if you could have a pleasant customer-artist relationship with your tattoo artist?

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