How Much to Tip a Tattoo Artist (With Price Estimates)

Every service industry has unspoken rules about tipping. Tattooing is no different. While tips aren’t required, it is expected, so you’ll want to factor that into the cost. 

However, tipping is more complicated than most other industries because there are more factors to consider like the size of the tattoo, how detailed it is, and more. 

In this article, we’re breaking down

  • Exactly how much to tip
  • When to consider tipping a little extra
  • Tattoo shop etiquette you’ll want to know before your appointment.

How Much Are You Supposed to Tip a Tattoo Artist?

The short answer is about 20%. (Put the calculator away. Click here to jump to the Tattoo Tip Cheat Sheet.)

Generally, 15-25% should be the amount you tip. Where you fall on that scale will depend on a few other factors. 

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to tip your artist extra: 

You Got a Custom Design

If your artist drew a design just for you, they put a lot of time and effort into it. If it’s a larger tattoo, the artist definitely spent hours on it beforehand. 

For example, you should tip at a higher percentage for a full sleeve the artist designed just for you than a small tattoo or a quick touch up because the sleeve took them several extra hours of work.

You Appreciate Your Artist

Tattoo artists usually pay for all their own supplies, but they don’t get all the money they make from their tattoos. A large portion of the tattoo’s cost goes to the shop (usually 40-50%). However, artists do keep 100% of their tips. 

Tattoo artists will prioritize clients that tip. They’ll spend more time on their design, since they know they’ll get paid for that effort, and they’ll be more accommodating if the client needs to reschedule. 

Your Tattoo’s Size and Detail

If your tattoo is large or complicated enough that it requires multiple sessions, you should tip your tattoo artist. The bigger and more detailed the design is, the more you should tip them. 

This also applies to color. Color tattoos are harder to apply and take longer than black and gray, so you might consider adding to your tip if you got a color tattoo.

You Want to Create a Good Relationship

If you really love the artist’s work, there’s a good chance you’ll want to go back to them for another tattoo. Tipping well builds a stronger relationship between you and the artist. They’ll be more excited to work on your next tattoo if they know you value their art. 

You Had a Great Tattoo Experience

This doesn’t just mean that you love the design. If your artist made sure you were comfortable, checked in regularly about how you were feeling, and the station was sterile, you should factor that into your tip. 

When to Tip your Tattoo Artist:

You should tip after the tattoo is completely done. This can either be while you’re finishing up before you go to the cash register or after you pay at the desk.

If your tattoo is divided into multiple sessions, you should tip after each session.

A lot of tattoo shops don’t accept credit card payment at all, or their card reader is not set up for tips. Make sure you have enough cash or you can call ahead to see if the shop allows you to pay and tip with your credit card.

Tipping on a Budget, Don’t Like Your Tattoo, and Other FAQs

What if I don't like the tattoo?

If you don’t like the tattoo, you need to tell your tattoo artist (the sooner, the better). They might be able to make changes. Some artists will fix the tattoo free of charge. 

However, you should still consider tipping even if you ended up not loving the final result, especially if they:

  • Created a custom design
  • Did their best to keep you comfortable and answer all questions
  • Ensured a safe and sanitary setup
  • Talked you through the proper aftercare for the tattoo
  • Offered to fix the tattoo for free

Can I tip with gifts instead?

Most artists only accept money as tips. Gifts can be a nice way to show your tattoo artist some extra love, but it shouldn’t replace a cash tip. 

What if I don't have enough to tip?

If you don’t think you’ll have enough money to tip the full 20% on top of the tattoo’s price, you should tip as close to that as you can. Skipping the tip is considered very rude in most shops. 

If you really don’t have enough and you don’t tip for the tattoo, it’s recommended you don’t return to that tattoo shop. 

Does location matter?

Tipping your tattoo artist is expected in the United States. However, different parts of the world will have different views and customs on tipping. Do your research before, but when in doubt, offer a tip. 

Is there any other way to thank my tattoo artist?

You can show appreciation by leaving a review, giving them a shoutout on social media, etc. This does not replace a tip. Exposure is helpful, but it does not take the place of actual payment unless you and the tattoo artist have determined a trade beforehand. 

Other Tattoo Shop Etiquette: Don't be That Customer

DO:

  • Let your artist know if you’re taking any medications or tend to pass out easily.
  • Have reference pictures to show your artist. 
  • Call your artist if you feel sick. You’ll be in close proximity for a long time, so it’s better to reschedule.

DON'T:

  • Bring children to your tattoo appointment. There’s lots of dangerous equipment in the shop.
  • Show up drunk. It won’t “take the edge off.” It’ll make the tattoo worse because you’ll be dehydrated.
  • Bring a friend unless your artist said it’s okay.

Tattoo Tip Cheat Sheet

Wondering how much to tip for your tattoo? Here’s the most common tattoo tip amounts by price:

Tattoo
Cost
15% Tip: “Okay”
20% Tip: “Good”
25% Tip: “Great”
30% Tip:
“Amazing!”

$100

$15

$20

$25

$30

$200

$30

$40

$50

$60

$300

$45

$60

$75

$90

$400

$60

$80

$100

$120

$500

$75

$100

$125

$150

$600

$90

$120

$150

$180

$700

$105

$140

$175

$210

$800

$120

$160

$200

$240

$900

$135

$180

$225

$270

$1000

$150

$200

$250

$300

$1200

$180

$240

$300

$360

$1400

$210

$280

$350

$420

$1600

$240

$320

$400

$480

$1800

$270

$360

$450

$540

$2000

$300

$400

$500

$600

$2200

$330

$440

$550

$660

$2400

$360

$480

$600

$720

$2600

$390

$520

$650

$780

$2800

$420

$560

$700

$840

Tattoo Cost
15% Tip: “Okay”
20% Tip: “Good”
25% Tip: “Great”
30% Tip:
“Amazing!”

$100

$15

$20

$25

$30

$200

$30

$40

$50

$60

$300

$45

$60

$75

$90

$400

$60

$80

$100

$120

$500

$75

$100

$125

$150

$600

$90

$120

$150

$180

$700

$105

$140

$175

$210

$800

$120

$160

$200

$240

$900

$135

$180

$225

$270

$1000

$150

$200

$250

$300

$1200

$180

$240

$300

$360

$1400

$210

$280

$350

$420

$1600

$240

$320

$400

$480

$1800

$270

$360

$450

$540

$2000

$300

$400

$500

$600

$2200

$330

$440

$550

$660

$2400

$360

$480

$600

$720

$2600

$390

$520

$650

$780

$2800

$420

$560

$700

$840

Ever Wondered About Becoming a Tattoo Artist?

Curious about whether you’d make a great tattoo artist?

In the past, people who wanted to be tattoo artists had to go through a 2 to 4-year unpaid apprenticeship. Many hopeful artists had to endure abuse and hazing from more experienced artists in order to learn the bare minimum about tattooing.

Luckily, there’s now another option.

Get everything you need to learn from home - without quitting your job for a full-time, unpaid apprenticeship. 

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain. When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

SUGGESTED ARTICLES FOR YOU

MORE FREE CONTENT FOR YOU
July 23, 2021

If your shading looks choppy or is healing patchy and you don’t ...

Tattoo Shading Techniques
January 24, 2019

Image from Revelist We like to bring you the latest in tattoo ...

Everything You Wanted to Know About Fingernail Tattoos (and Were Too Afraid to Ask)

Our Community

Join the Tattooing 101 Community today and get free, instant access to tools and resources that take you behind the curtain of all things tattooing. From apprentice to shop owner, we've got you covered.