Tipping Tattoo Artists: What You Need to Know

Generally, tattoo artists are expected to receive at least 15% of their tips as tips for their work. For instance, a four-hour tattoo job.

Tattoo etiquette includes tipping your tattoo artist, and yes, tattoo etiquette is a real thing. As a client, you should observe hygiene etiquette as well as avoiding continuous tattoo remodelling while the tattoo artist is working. Clients tipping tattoo artists is one of the most overlooked etiquettes.

Tipping is more important than other etiquettes, like taking a shower before getting a tattoo and doing not micromanage your tattoo while it is in progress. Now that you know why you should tip your tattoo artist and how much to give, you can go out and get your favorite tattoo.

Tattoo Artists Deserve a Tip

Unlike other types of services, tipping plays a very important role in your tattoo process. Tipping is a common practice in all service industries to thank workers for a job well done. There are many jobs that receive tips for their service, such as cab driving, bartending, and hairstyling. Tattoo artists work harder than many of the services previously mentioned, so it is only right to tip them also.

The services artists provide deserve a fair wage and they should be compensated for their efforts. Like waiters who deserve tips, tattoo artists deserve them as well. Tipping a tattoo artist should be no different from tipping a waiter for their service.

A second reason why tipping tattoo artists is important is that they do not receive the entirety of your payment. As in any service industry, service workers only receive a certain percentage of the money they earn.

Tattoo artists often keep 30 to 70% of every tattoo’s earnings, while the rest goes back into the shop. As a result of these earnings, the shop bills and some utilities can be paid. It is unfair to reduce the price to artists when they have to purchase their own supplies.

The last thing you want to do is to make a great impression on your tattoo artist in case you return, and by offering them a tip you’ll quickly become a friend. To encourage your artists to show more passion for future projects, you must show that you appreciate their talents and their efforts. Additionally, you don’t want a tattoo artist who doesn’t like you.

How Much Do I Tip?

After you’ve understood why you should tip a tattoo artist, now let’s look at how much tip you should give them. Obviously, you do not have to be limited to how big your artists’ types can be. The sky is the limit if they truly capture your heart with their tattoo.

Most of the time, you don’t have millions of dollars to give to your artist freely, so you (and the artist) will have to settle for less. Don’t give them a small tip for their services, as this can be viewed as a little disrespectful. Even if they don’t say it out loud, they will silently judge you; therefore, it is essential that you know the general etiquette for tipping tattoo artists.

Tipping the Artist

The standard tip among most tattoo artists is at least 15%. Your bill will be $650 if you hire a $150 per hour artist to work four hours. The tip for your artist should be at least $90 (15%). There are, of course, exceptions to this 15% tip as well, such as if you need a tattoo that costs over $1500 or $2000.

Your 15% tip looks like $225 on $1500 alone, and this is not a price that most people are willing to pay. Therefore, tattoo artists will also accept a tip of 10% for orders exceeding $2000, as it can also lead to quite a hefty tip for the artist.

You can always give them a predetermined amount of money if you don’t want to do the math about how much you have to pay them. The majority of clients do this, as they give their artist $100 regardless of how complex or how long the tattoo took to complete.

Nevertheless, even 10% of their total order may be a bit much for some. It is easy to understand why people may struggle to pay a tip up front when they have loans, rent, and bills. Here are some tips for tipping on a budget if this is getting too real.

how much to tip tattoo artist

Tipping On a Budget

Even if your budget is tight, but you really need that tattoo of Patrick yawning, you can still get that tattoo and still tip well.

Discuss this with your artist and see if they are comfortable with you tipping them per session. In this way, you are able to easily pay your tips as you go along, accumulating your total tip that you were going to pay them originally. If your tattoo takes a lot of time to complete, this may be a life saver.

To Tip or Not to Tip?

Although tipping is a great way to show your appreciation to someone who provides you with a service, it is not mandatory. It is a misconception that tattoo artists (and other service employees in general) expect to receive tips for the work that they do.

The majority of employees do not believe they will be rewarded for their efforts by clients. Thus, if you were to leave the shop and get up, the artist would not ask for a tip. A tip is a general courtesy to show your gratitude for their work.

If money is tight, or you have some genuine reason to not tip an artist, you can simply not give a tip. Even though people say tips are an absolute necessity, you can only give them when you feel your artist did a good job.

Gifts in the Place Of Tips

Despite the fact that this is a strange question, tattoo artists are starting to ask it all the time nowadays. Some prefer to give them gifts instead of a few hundred dollars in the form of a tip.

You may offer your artists gifts in lieu of cash, but don’t replace their payment with services or advice. Bartering is more than an awkward conversation to have, it’s also very disrespectful and downright offensive.

A friend of yours might ink you without charge if you do them a favor like working on their car, seeing what their advertising plan is like, or whatever. In any case, you shouldn’t expect that you can pay with anything other than your cash unless you have an explicit agreement with the artist.

When to Tip an Artist?

Obviously, you should tip your artist after your session or after they finish your tattoo. It makes sense, then, to tip them only after they finish their tattoo, since it shows how much you enjoy their work. You can tip the artist after each session, however, if you know him/her.

how much to tip tattoo artist


How Much Should I Tip My Tattoo Artist?

10%-20% of the total bill is a common amount to pay your tattoo artists. It is also possible to set a predetermined amount that you will give to your artist rather than calculate it.

Can I Tip Them With Gifts?

However, not all artists accept gifts over money. Then you should expect tipping to be in cash unless you both agree otherwise.

Can I Pay For My Tattoo With Gifts or Services?

It is not possible unless you have a personal relationship with the artist. You should not make that offer as a client, as it is disrespectful to the artist.

What If I Can’t Afford Tipping Them?

There has always been an option for tipping. You can skip tipping the ink vendor if you have a genuine reason not to tip or feel the quality of the ink is not up to par. If you tell an artist no, they don’t make a big deal out of it.


Tattoo artists occupy an unusual position in the service industry. Unlike barbers, waiters, and cab drivers, tattoo artists don’t expect to see the same client multiple times throughout their careers. Because of this, even something as simple as tips can be a bit difficult for them.

Some tattoo artists may silently judge you based on your tipping, especially if the reason is valid. If you only plan to get one tattoo and never return to the artist, be sure to leave at least 15% tip. However, you can leave a smaller tip if you plan on returning to the restaurant.