March 3, 2024
Tipping your tattoo artist is an important way to show appreciation and support local art communities. However, the etiquette and amount of tipping can be unclear. Read on for insights into the history of tattoo tipping culture, why it matters, and guidance on how much to tip and when to do so.


Getting a tattoo is both a personal and artistic experience, and tipping your tattoo artist is an important way to show appreciation for their hard work and skill. However, navigating the etiquette of tattoo artist tipping can be a common dilemma among customers. How much should you tip? Is there a standard percentage or amount? Do you tip before or after the session? These are all valid questions. In this article, we will explore the history and importance of tattoo artist tipping, how much to tip based on various factors, and the overall impact of tipping on the art community.

The Etiquette of Tipping Tattoo Artists: How Much Should You Really Be Giving?

Tattoo artist tipping culture can be traced back to the 1900s. According to an article on, sailors in the United States Navy would often get tattoos as souvenirs during their travels. Upon returning to port, they would give extra money to the tattoo artist as a way to show gratitude for their service. From there, tipping tattoo artists became ingrained in American culture and has since become a standard practice in the industry.

However, unlike dining or service industries, there isn’t a standard percentage or amount for tipping tattoo artists. The appropriate amount to tip can vary based on different factors, such as the quality of the tattoo, the cost, and the length of the session. Many tattoo artists recommend tipping between 15-20% of the total cost, and this is often viewed as an appropriate baseline.

When determining the appropriate amount to tip, it’s essential to consider the quality of the tattoo and the artist’s skill level. Is the design unique and intricate? Did the artist spend extra time perfecting the tattoo? If so, you should consider tipping on the higher end of the spectrum. Additionally, the cost of the tattoo does not always indicate the quality of the artist’s work, so it’s important to factor in the actual tattoo and the experience as a whole.

Why Tipping Your Tattoo Artist Matters: The Importance of Recognizing Their Skill and Hard Work

Becoming a tattoo artist takes extensive training, creativity, and skill. Most tattoo artists go through years of apprenticeships and take courses in hygiene, color theory, and more. The process of tattooing can be mentally and physically strenuous for the artist and places significant pressure on them to meet the customer’s expectations.

Tipping your tattoo artist is a way to show your appreciation for their craft and hard work. It’s a small investment in their talent and can go a long way in creating continued customer relationships. It can also be a crucial part of the artist’s income, especially since many tattoo artists are independent contractors or self-employed.

Additionally, tipping can help offset the risks and challenges associated with tattooing. It’s not uncommon for tattoo artists to work long hours in challenging conditions, which can lead to physical injuries or health concerns. By tipping your tattoo artist, you are helping support them in their work and making their job more sustainable.

The Impact of Tipping Tattoo Artists: Supporting Your Local Art Community

Tattoo artists are part of the local arts community. Most artists work in small shops owned by entrepreneurs who rely on customer support to remain open. In many cases, tattoo artists have struggled with financial stability, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Tipping your tattoo artist can contribute to a sustainable art community and support your local economy.

Discretionary income from tipping can have a significant impact on local artists’ continued education, skill development, and investment in high-quality equipment. For example, some tattoo artists may use their tips to attend conferences, buy new equipment, or take classes to advance their skills. By supporting your local tattoo artist, you are also investing in the art community’s overall growth and development.

Tipping Tattoo Artists: When and How Much? The Do’s and Don’ts of Tipping Culture

The timing of tipping can also be an essential factor in the tattoo artist tipping process. It’s customary to tip at the end of the session, but larger projects or tattoo series can vary. Many artists may prefer to receive larger tips after more extensive or longer projects are completed. It’s a good idea to discuss any questions or concerns you have with your tattoo artist before or during the session.

As mentioned earlier, the appropriate amount to tip can vary and should be based on various factors such as the quality of the tattoo and the cost. However, it’s essential to remember that it’s not appropriate to use tipping to negotiate or haggle. Tattoo artists typically set their prices, and tipping should be used as a way to show appreciation for their work, rather than a way to negotiate the cost.

To Tip or Not to Tip? Examining the Debate Around Tattoo Artist Tipping

While tipping tattoo artists is widely practiced, the necessity and benefits of tipping are still subject to debate. Some argue that tipping is not necessary since artists already charge for their services, and customers should not have to pay extra. However, others argue that tipping is appropriate and essential to compensate artists for their hard work and skill.

After talking to multiple tattoo artists and customers, it’s clear that the consensus leans towards the necessity and benefits of tipping. However, it’s important to consider the nuances of tipping culture, such as respecting an artist’s boundaries and recognizing when tipping might not be appropriate.


Tattoo artist tipping culture might not be straightforward, but it’s essential to recognize the hard work and artistic skill that go into creating a tattoo. Tipping your tattoo artist is a simple and effective way to show appreciation and support for their craft. By tipping your artist, you are not only supporting the individual but also contributing to a sustainable and thriving local art community.

It’s crucial to remember to be respectful of your tattoo artist’s boundaries and discuss any questions or concerns you may have about tipping. Let’s continue to recognize and appreciate the hard work and skill of local tattoo artists and support our communities’ growth and development.

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