Is It Proper Etiquette To Tip A Tattoo Artist?

Tipping your tattoo artist is a big deal and the golden rule when it comes to tattoo etiquettes. From your hygiene as a client to avoiding continuous remodeling of your tattoo while they are working, customers do not pay attention to tattoo etiquette as much as most tattoo artists would like. However, the most overlooked etiquette is clients tipping their tattoo artists.

So, Let’s get into why it’s so important and how much you should be tipping so the next time you go to a tattoo shop you can tip your artist appropriately.

How Much To Tip Tattoo Artist

Why Tip?

Well, as with any service tipping is commonplace and an awful lot of time, effort, and money go into creating your tattoo. Artists will spend several hours drawing, designing, choosing colors if applicable, looking for reference photos, and laying out the design.

Plus, most artists are responsible for a lot of finances behind the scenes, such as buying their own supplies or paying rent to their shop, which can add up fast. If you regularly get tattoos or frequent certain tattoo shops then there’s even more reason to tip. Why not help support the tattoo artists that are helping to make your body the way you want it?

Another reason to tip a tattoo artist is that tattoo artists do not receive all of the money that you pay them for their efforts. Much like in every service-based industry; service workers only receive a certain percentage of money for their services.

Tattoo artists often take between 30% and 70% of every tattoo’s earnings, as the rest goes back into the shop. These earnings help in paying the shop’s bills and for some of the utilities. Some artists even have to buy their own supplies, which makes this price cut understandably unfair meaning your tip and other tips go a long way and contribute a significant portion of their wage.

While not the most altruistic reason, if you tip your artist then they’re going to like you. This is a sure-fire way to make your experience in tattoo shops better as the artist or artists you tip then like you and will ensure that your tattoo is their best work to date. If they’re an owner too then who knows, you may get a discount.

In short, tip tattoo artists.


How Much Should You Tip Tattoo Artists?

If you decide to tip, and in our opinion, you should, the next step is to calculate exactly how much to add to the final tattoo price. The general consensus in the tattoo community is that 15-20 percent is the typical amount to tip.

However, this isn’t the only amount you should tip. It’s more of a baseline and lower or higher amounts are acceptable depending on the tattoo studios. A general rule of thumb is the more time the tattoo artist spends on the tattoo, the more you should tip.

You shouldn’t just hand them a tip of a few dollars for their services, as that can be a little disrespectful and definitely not recommended among the tattoo community. While they might not say it out loud, they will silently judge you so it’s important to know the unspoken rules of the tattooing world.

A much agreed-upon standard for tips among most tattoo artists at least 15% for their tattoos. So if your artist takes $100 an hour and works for four hours, your bill will be $400. But you will have to pay your artist at least $60(15%) as a tip for their efforts. 

Now, this is the price of a lower to mid-sized tattoo so as you can imagine the tip price can increase by a lot as you get larger, more time-consuming tattoos. However, as you reach the $2000 mark, many tattoo artists will accept lower tips around 10% as this amount is still a nice chunk of change.

Alternatively, some people like to agree on a set amount to tip before the procedure. For example, many pay around $100 as a set tip regardless of how much time the tattoo takes. This is a more suitable way of tipping if you’re on a budget or don’t want to work out the maths every time you get a new tattoo. If you’re struggling to get that tip sum then discuss it with your tattoo artist beforehand and arrange a tipping scheme that helps you both.


Other Ways To Tip Your Tattoo Artist

There are many other ways of showing your appreciation other than giving a tip. The most common and beneficial for tattoo artists is to give them some sort of shoutout on social media. Posting your tattoo and tagging the artist’s or business’s account is a sure-fire way to get the tattoo artist to like you.

Giving gifts is becoming a more common occurrence too. Instead of giving them a few hundred dollars in the form of a tip, some are also willing to accept certain gifts as a replacement for their tip.

Although it is completely okay to offer your artist gifts instead of cold hard cash, it is not okay to offer them services or advice in the place of their original payment. Bartering a deal with an artist is not only an awkward conversation to have, but it comes off as very disrespectful and downright offensive.

So if an artist, who is your friend, decided to ink you if you do a favor for them like working on their car, taking a look at their advertising plan, or whatnot, then it is fine to strike a trade. But unless you have an explicit agreement with the artist, you shouldn’t have any expectations that you can pay with anything other than your cash.


Don’t Haggle

When you go to a tattoo shop the last thing you should do is try to negotiate a lower price with the tattoo artist. You’re not buying a used car, or pre-owned goods from a pawn shop. You are paying for an artist’s time and skills, they charge what they believe those things are worth. 

If you don’t like the price, find a cheaper tattooist and hope they can do the same job as the artist you chose first although when it comes to getting a tattoo that will be on your body for the rest of your life it’s worth investing in quality. 

Bigger pieces can be done by the hour, so you don’t have to find all the money at once. Alternatively, save up for it, put it on your credit card if you have to, but don’t haggle as it’s looked down on in the tattoo world. All you will is irritate the tattoo artist and risk getting a tattoo with less than their full effort put into it.


Other Tattoo Etiquette


Make sure you bathe or shower before you go for your tattoo, it’ll be your last chance for a couple of days, and for the next few hours your tattooist is going to be up close and personal with your body. Be considerate as your tattoo artist does not want to spend hours at a time having to smell your unwashed body.

However, this doesn’t mean overload on deodorant and aftershave as this can make them feel just as queasy as a bad smell would.

Know What You Want

Tattoo artists can be very talented but they can’t know everything. Think of what you want your tattoo to look like beforehand or arrange a meeting with the tattooer so you can brainstorm ideas and they can show you what picture or words they have planned. This saves a lot of time and patience.

Don’t Go While Intoxicated

A tattooer can and in most cases will turn you away if you turn up intoxicated, in fact in many states it is illegal to perform the procedure on somebody who is under the influence.

There’s also the risk of you regretting the tattoo the next morning so if you’re ever drunk and walk past a tattoo parlor thinking a tattoo is what you really need then turn around and see if you still feel the same tomorrow. Most likely you won’t.


Frequently Asked Questions

How much do you tip for a $500 tattoo?

As we mentioned above, the general consensus for how much to tip a tattoo artist is 15%-20%. So if a tattoo costs $500 then you should tip around $75 – $100 but of course, you may want to tip higher or lower.

Do you tip your tattoo artist every session?

This can be discussed with your tattoo artist beforehand but many will allow you to tip in segments each session if this is more helpful for you or you can just pay it all in one lump sum once the tattoo is finished. Always discuss beforehand though as some artists do things differently and may not allow for a specific way of payment. This will avoid any awkward situations.

Do I have to tip?

No, it’s not compulsory to tip but it is a decent thing to do as the tattoo process takes hours and you’re paying for a service. As with any service, tips are strongly advised as employees don’t always get a large cut of the earnings. Plus, the artist will look on you favorably which can lead to additional benefits and ensure a quality tattoo.



Tipping may not be compulsory, but it’s a way to show that you appreciate all of the hard work and effort that the artist has put into the service. Many casual clients don’t tip so by doing so you’ll stand out.

While it can cost a big chunk of change, tipping is just the polite thing to do and means you know that the artist is getting a fitting amount of money for the work they did.

In our opinion, tip all the way but make sure you can afford it. Follow tattoo etiquette and you’ll fast become a favorite among the tattooers at your local parlor.