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The Truth About Tipping Tattoo Artists

There’s plenty to consider before getting a tattoo, but once you’ve taken the plunge, there’s no better experience than getting up and admiring the artist’s handiwork in the mirror — particularly if it’s something you’ve been waiting a while for. It’s going to be on your body for the rest of your life, so it’s not something you’ve decided on lightly. More often that not, your tattoo artist will have done a great job, too. Once you’ve admired your new ink and had it cleaned, it’s time to pay up.

Whatever the price of the tattoo, you might be thinking of tipping the artist. After all, you tip restaurant staff, hairdressers, and taxi drivers, right? But just what is the right etiquette when it comes to tipping your tattoo artist? You don’t want to commit a faux pas — while tipping isn’t compulsory, of course, it’s something you may well want to do. So, here’s the truth about tipping tattoo artists, whether it’s your first tattoo or your fiftieth.

Tipping isn't compulsory but is a good idea

Simply put, you should be tipping your tattoo artist — even if some people aren’t a fan of tipping at all. This is particularly important when the tattoo is a custom design, as the artist puts a lot of work into getting everything just right. Remember, it’s not just the appointment itself that you’re paying for — plenty of factors go into determining the cost (via Tattoodo), and therefore tip, of your tattoo. They’ll have to draw and design the tattoo, research for inspiration, maybe invite you in for a consultation, and if they own the studio, run a business on top of everything else.

Speaking to Byrdie, tattoo artist Michaelle Fiore of Beaver Tattoo in Queens, NY, explains that, “A tip is a courtesy that shows the tattoo artist that you appreciate the time, effort, and expertise they put in,” and that, while you’re free to not tip, it won’t help you build a bond with the artist. If you’re hoping to get future tattoos from the same artist, not tipping probably isn’t too wise.

When it comes to tipping, 20% is probably about right, as more expensive tattoos warrant larger tips. You don’t have to tip if your experience wasn’t great, but if the artist made an effort to make you comfortable, explain things, and involve you in the process, they deserve a tip. It’s a tricky job that takes a lot of planning and care on their part.

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  • Posted on May 17, 2021