The most common way to tip a tattoo artist is to tip a percentage of the total cost of the tattoo. 

Many people tip about 20% of the overall price to show some extra love to their tattoo artist, especially if they invested a considerable amount of time and effort into your tattoo work.

Of course, the tip amount can fluctuate depending on customization, color and shading, and more. So there’s plenty to consider when it comes to tipping your tattoo artist.

Let’s get into it. 👇

Understanding Tattoo Artist Tipping Etiquette

Before we discuss the specifics of tipping, it’s essential to understand the basics of tattoo artist tipping etiquette. 

The tattoo industry has its own set of rules, and knowing what artists expect will ensure you confidently and respectfully navigate tipping situations in the studio.

When you enter a tattoo studio, you’re not just paying for the ink that will be permanently etched onto your skin. 

You’re investing in the talent, creativity, and expertise of the tattoo artist.

Between client consultations and the actual tattoo appointment, a lot of work goes into the artist process. 

Even if you have reference photos, tattoo artists spend a ton of time drawing, designing, coloring and shading your art — especially if it’s custom. 

By tipping, you’re showing appreciation for the artistry and dedication that goes into creating a unique piece of body art.

And according to Sage & Serpent Tattoo in Nashville, TN, “Tipping your artist is a green flag.”

The Basics of Tipping in the Tattoo Industry

Generally, tipping in the tattoo industry is customary and expected. 

It’s an easy way to acknowledge your artist’s creative skill, effort, and time spent on your tattoo. 

However, the exact amount you choose to tip ultimately depends on a few different factors.

Most tattoo artists charge an hourly rate. This covers the artist no matter how complicated or large the design or where the tattoo is placed on their client. 

On the other hand, some artists charge by the design or location of the tattoo, calculating for technical difficulty and supplies.

No matter how tattoo artists charge for their work, they often rely on tips as a significant part of their income. 

Tipping generously allows you to show gratitude for their hard work and to help support their livelihood in a competitive industry.

What to Consider When Tipping a Tattoo Artist

When it comes to tipping for creative services, like getting a tattoo, it’s important to consider the effort and skill that goes into creating a piece of art on your skin. 

An easy way to calculate a tattoo artist’s tip is: The more work that goes into the tattoo, the more you should expect to tip.

When determining the appropriate tip amount for a tattoo artist, consider factors, such as:

The size and complexity of the tattoo:

Tattoos are usually unique to their person. You get to choose where it is, what it is, the colors, and more.

If the tattoo is customized or especially large, consider a bigger tip for your artist.

The artist’s experience and skill level:

Many tattoo artists charge by the hour and their experience level. A beginner tattoo artist might charge $80-$100 per hour.

An expert artist could charge between $150-$300 an hour, especially if they’re a famous tattooist.

The artist’s tattoo style:

Tattoo artists usually have a style they’re best at. Tattoo styles can include blackwork, neo-traditional, watercolor, realism, tribal, and more.

Depending on the artist’s style, some tattoos are more intricate and time-consuming than others.

The location on your body:

Some areas of the body are harder to tattoo than others. If your placement is a bit complicated, consider upping the tip for your artist.

The overall satisfaction with the final result:

This is a common consideration when tipping any service provider. If you’re happy with your tattoo, tip accordingly.

Aftercare supplies:

Many tattoo shops include aftercare in the price of your tattoo. If they don’t, make sure you budget accordingly, but don’t let it affect your tip.

Follow-up appointments:

Does your artwork require more than one session? If so, talk to your artist about how they’d like to handle tipping.

Ask them if they prefer being tipped per appointment or when the tattoo is complete.

Your relationship with the artist:

Do you have a long-term relationship with your tattoo artist?

If so, consider tipping more as a way of showing gratitude for their continued service. It helps maintain the positive artist-client relationship you two built over time. 

Location and cost of living:

It might seem odd to consider the cost of living when tipping a tattooist, but it could be helpful to the artist.

If their shop is in an expensive area, your tip could go a long way.

These elements play a significant role in determining how much you should tip your tattoo artist.

Remember: If the artist spent extra time and effort creating a complicated one-of-a-kind piece for you, a higher tip may be warranted to reflect the added value of their personalized service.

How to Determine the Right Tip Amount for a Tattoo Artist

Now that you understand the importance of tipping and the factors that influence the tip amount, let’s explore how you can determine the right tip amount for a tattoo artist. 

Percentage-Based Tipping

One common approach is to tip a percentage of the total cost of the tattoo. 

Because average tattoo prices vary between artists, the general rule of thumb is to tip a percentage of the final cost. 

Many people choose to tip about 20% of the overall price of their tattoo – just like at a barbershop or massage appointment.  

For example, a small wrist tattoo might cost about $100. 

Therefore, the average tip would be about $20. 

If you chose a larger design, like a sleeve on your arm –– or anything larger than 6-8 inches –– you’re looking at a tattoo that might cost thousands of dollars.

Which adds up to a pretty hefty tip.

The percentage-based tipping method allows you to reward your artist accordingly, no matter where or what your tattoo is. 

Keep in mind that getting a tattoo is a pricey decision.

(Oftentimes, you even need to put a deposit down before your tattoo appointment.) 

If you cannot afford to tip your tattoo artist, we suggest saving up until you can pay for the tattoo plus tip. 

Flat Rate Tip

This is much less common in the tattoo industry. A flat rate tip is a predetermined amount – no matter how long the tattoo takes, where it is, or what it entails.  

However, considering tattoo prices are not one-size-fits-all (because tattoos are different for everyone), it’s best to stick with a percentage-based tip for artists. 

How to Tip a Tattoo Artist

Once you’ve determined the appropriate tip amount, it’s essential to consider the method of giving the tip itself.


Cash is often preferred by tattoo artists. Cash tips provide immediate gratification and allow the artist to pocket the tip directly.

Cash tips are also not subject to payment processing fees, like credit card tips. This means the artist receives the full amount of your tip at the end of the appointment.


Credit or debit card tips are more convenient for clients than artists. Not many people carry cash anymore, so tattoo shops are used to accepting tips via card. 

If you want to include the payment processing fees in your tip – usually a couple extra dollars – so the artist doesn’t have to sacrifice some of their tip, it’ll go a long way in the artist-client relationship. 

Peer-to-peer payment apps

Peer-to-peer payment apps include the ever-popular Venmo, Apple Pay, or Cash App. Some people use Zelle or PayPal, too. 

While super convenient for everyone, app developers are cracking down on taxing income from services rendered. 

Here’s why you should stop tipping with peer-to-peer payment apps, like Venmo. 

Tipping for Tattoo Touch-ups and Corrections

Remember when we mentioned multiple tattoo appointments?

After getting a tattoo, there may be instances where you require touch-ups or even corrections. 

Understanding how tipping applies to these types of appointments is important to maintain a positive relationship with your artist.

Tipping for Multiple Tattoo Sessions 

Some designs are just that complicated. Some people have a low pain tolerance and need a break.

Whatever the case, some tattoos require multiple appointments to finish. 

Should you tip for multiple sessions? 

Again, it’s best to talk to your artist about how they’d like to handle tipping. They might prefer if you tip after each appointment, or they might ask you to tip when the tattoo is complete.

Tipping for Tattoo Touch-ups

Don’t worry if you need a touch-up on your tattoo, even if it’s new.

Touch-ups are a common part of the tattooing process. Sometimes, the ink may not settle perfectly or the colors may fade over time. 

(It’s crucial to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your artist to ensure the best healing results.)

In some cases, touch-ups may be necessary to enhance the overall appearance of the tattoo and maintain its vibrancy.

But should you tip for tattoo touch-ups?

When it comes to tattoo touch-up appointments, the general rule of thumb is yes, you should tip for the extra work required

Showing appreciation for the additional effort illustrates your understanding of the artist’s commitment to ensuring your tattoo looks its best.

Artists invest their time and skills into perfecting their craft, and tipping for touch-ups acknowledges their dedication to providing you with a high-quality tattoo that you can proudly display. 

Tipping for Corrections and Fixes

Unlike touch-ups, tattoo corrections or fixes are not as common. 

In these cases, tipping is usually not expected or required. 

However, if the original artist goes above and beyond to rectify the issue and deliver the outcome you initially envisioned (or a new artist takes a crack at it), expressing your gratitude through a tip is still a thoughtful gesture.

Artists take pride in their work and strive to ensure that their clients are satisfied with the final result. 

If you find yourself in a situation where a correction is needed, open communication with your artist is key. 

Providing constructive feedback can help them understand your preferences better and work towards achieving the desired outcome.

If you can’t talk through fixing a bad tattoo or you didn’t have a good experience in the shop, it’s OK to skip the tip.

Tipping Other Tattoo Shop Employees

While tipping your tattoo artist is crucial, it’s equally important to consider other key individuals who contribute to your overall experience in a tattoo shop.

Tattoo Shop Receptionist or Manager

Although the shop receptionist or manager may not directly participate in the tattooing process, they play an important role in ensuring everything runs smoothly. 

They help schedule appointments; maintain a welcoming, sterile atmosphere; and generally take charge of the overall operation of the tattoo studio.

These individuals often serve as the first point of contact for clients, providing essential information and assistance. 

However, it’s not customary to tip the tattoo receptionist or manager unless they’re also your artist. 

Tattoo Apprentice

If your tattoo artist has an apprentice who assists during the tattooing process, it’s thoughtful to acknowledge their contribution as well. 

Tattoo apprentices often dedicate countless hours to learning the craft, supporting the lead artist, and honing their creative skills. 

It’s not expected to tip the tattoo apprentice, but a small additional gratuity for their support is a kind gesture that recognizes their hard work and commitment to the art form.

Tattoo Shop Owner

Like booth rental at hair salons, some tattoo artists rent their chairs from a shop. 

Is it expected that you tip the tattoo shop owner, too?

Fortunately, it’s not. You don’t have to tip the shop owner unless they also did your tattoo.

You don’t have to feel bad about not tipping the owner either. Most of the tattoo artists renting chairs pay a portion of their earnings to the owner for space in the shop and/or supplies. 

Expanding your understanding of the tattoo shop ecosystem beyond the artist-client dynamic can lead to a more enriching experience, especially if you return to the shop for more work. 

By acknowledging the efforts of the receptionist, manager, and apprentice, you contribute to a culture of appreciation and respect within the shop. 

These individuals work together to create a welcoming and professional environment for clients, enhancing the overall tattooing experience.

Final Thoughts on Tipping Your Tattoo Artist 

Tattoo artists spend years honing their craft and perfecting their techniques, so showing appreciation for their hard work through a tip is a meaningful gesture.

Tipping your tattoo artist and sharing their work is also a great way to build positive relationships within the industry.  

“Tipping is never expected but always appreciated,” said Christian Elias, a tattoo artist at Holy City Tattoo Collective in Charleston, SC. 

“Take care of your artist, and they will take care of you.

As a tattooist, I believe in spreading the wealth. I’m grateful for every tip received, and when I spend hours with these people, I get to know them and do my best to support them if I can.”

By understanding tattoo artist tipping etiquette, determining the right tip amount, and considering other individuals within the shop, you can ensure that your appreciation is properly conveyed. 

Next time you’re sitting in the tattoo artist’s chair, don’t forget to tip generously and spread the love for this incredible art form.

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