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Decoding the Etiquette of Tipping Your Tattoo Artist: A Guide to Show Your Appreciation

At Logan Square Tattoo, we frequently encounter diverse perspectives on tipping in the tattoo industry, acknowledging that navigating the realm of gratuity can occasionally pose challenges for clients.  As a studio, we charge a fair price for the work being performed, so tipping, while always appreciated, is never expected.

Tattoos are more than just ink on skin; they're symbols of unique self-expression, milestones, and cherished life memories. Behind every stunning piece of body art is a skilled tattoo artist who has poured their aesthetic, creativity, talent, and expertise into bringing your vision to life. As a token of appreciation for their hard work and dedication, tipping your tattoo artist is a customary practice in the tattooing community but it is not always expected. But navigating the intricacies of tattoo tipping etiquette can sometimes feel daunting. So, let's delve into the customs of tipping a tattoo artist and how to show your gratitude in the most respectful and meaningful way.

Understanding the Importance of Tipping: 

Tipping is not only a way to acknowledge the skill and effort of your tattoo artist but also a gesture of gratitude for their time, attention to detail, and personalized service. It's a way to show appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating your tattoo.

The Standard Tipping Rate: 

While there isn't a strict rule for how much to tip your tattoo artist, a standard practice is to tip between 10% to 20% of the total cost of your tattoo. However, if you're exceptionally pleased with the outcome or received exceptional service, feel free to tip more generously. Most artists appreciate tipping, but it isn’t expected. 

Factors to Consider: 

Several factors can influence the amount you choose to tip your tattoo artist. These include the complexity and size of the tattoo, the duration of the session, the artist's skill level and reputation, and your overall satisfaction with the experience. It’s important to think, is it a walk in shop or a custom studio? Often artists at walk in shops can be working for lower percentages and rely more on tips for their income.  In a  custom studio setting, the artist might make more from the appointment, but also has to put more time into the design.  For instance, we asked our owner, Gifford Kasen and he said “I generally factor the design time into my session rate, so I don’t need to rely on tips.” Additionally, if your tattoo artist provided additional services such as custom design work or accommodated last-minute changes, consider tipping accordingly to show you valued the extra time in making your design perfect for you. 

It is always a good idea to ask your artist their thoughts on tipping, especially if it’s going to be a multiple session piece.  If a custom artist says that yes they expect a 20 percent tip for their work, that could be an additional few hundred bucks for your session, so know what you’re getting into.  Conversely, I know many artists find tipping distasteful to actually offensive.  Tipping in America is much higher than other countries, so traveling artists might find a 5-10 percent tip to be very thoughtful.  Japanese culture finds tipping to be an insult, as they charge what the work is worth and tipping says otherwise.  

Expressing Gratitude: 

Tipping is not just about the monetary value; it's also about expressing genuine appreciation for your tattoo artist's work. A sincere thank you, a positive review, or a referral to friends and family can go a long way in showing your gratitude and supporting their business.

Tipping Etiquette During Multiple Sessions: 

If your tattoo requires multiple sessions to complete, it's customary to tip your artist at the end of each session rather than waiting until the entire tattoo is finished. This allows you to show your appreciation for their work and dedication throughout the tattooing process.

Alternative Ways to Show Appreciation: 

While tipping is the most common way to show appreciation, it's not the only way. Some clients choose to bring snacks or beverages to their tattoo sessions, write heartfelt thank-you notes, or even gift handmade artwork to their tattoo artist as a token of gratitude.

Remembering Your Budget: 

While tipping is a customary practice, it's important to remember that it's not obligatory. If your budget is tight or if you're genuinely unable to afford a tip, don't feel guilty, be open and honest with your artist. Instead, express your gratitude through other means such as leaving a positive review or referring new clients to your tattoo artist. 

In conclusion, tipping your tattoo artist is a thoughtful way to recognize their talent, hard work, and dedication. By adhering to the customs of tattoo tipping etiquette and expressing your gratitude in a respectful and meaningful way, you not only show appreciation for your tattoo artist's craftsmanship but also contribute to a positive and supportive tattooing community.

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