- Posted by Carl Hallowell
- On July 27, 2018
I get this question often from my customers. It isn’t an easy conversation to have! I always appreciate them asking though, and I always explain the situation as thoroughly as I can. The last time I was counseling a customer on the appropriate tipping procedure for your tattoo artist, I thought, I should write this down. It could benefit both customer and artist alike!
Why You Should Tip Your Tattoo Artist
A tattoo artist really appreciates tips because he is paying a portion of every tattoo he does to the shop that he works for. This portion depends on a few things, such as his experience, his tenure at the shop, etc. While a portion of your tattoo cost goes to the shop- all of your tip remains property of the artist. If your tattoo artist happens to be the shop owner, a portion of his fee will go directly towards keeping the lights on. So even the shop owner benefits from his client’s gratuity.
Tipping is by no means mandatory in this business. And any tip is very much appreciated, no matter how great or how small. However, as the understanding grows among the populace of just how hard it is to get quality tattooing put on, and how hard the tattoo artist works to achieve it, tipping your tattoo artist has become commonplace.
However, not every tattoo artist applies himself wholeheartedly to the job at hand! The tip serves to express gratitude for a job well done and an experience that was fulfilling. For work and/or treatment that did not impress you, I see no reason why that type of service should earn a tip at all. Dont choose to work with an artist like this in the first place! Seek out quality from the beginning, this is an investment in yourself that will last a lifetime.
How Much Do You Tip A Tattoo Artist
The amount of the tip can vary widely. I have had young customers give me their last $7 in their wallet because they loved the tattoo so much. I remember one telling me he would rather go home hungry and eat a peanut butter sandwich than to leave me without a tip. On the other hand, I have been royally spoiled by customers who are well off, and, in their appreciation, want to express their happiness with an unusually large tip. I have also had customers who are middle class and work hard for their money go over the top with their tip, in an effort to thank me, and the message was loud and clear. I recently had a long time customer who gave me a card as a tip. Inside it, I was shocked to find many bills. I love to work on this customer, and would do it for free if I were to hit the lottery. Since I have not, this customer let me know in no uncertain terms that the enjoyment of our work together was mutual!
The amount of the tip is not set in stone, as it is at a restaurant, for example. Sometimes, a single bill in a denomination of your choosing can suffice very well. Or, a nice round number that you round up to from your tattoo cost can work out very well. More and more, customers are adapting to a percentage based model for figuring the tip. I do like this method, as, the more in-depth the work is, the higher the cost of the tattoo, and the greater the tip. It is like having a big bill when eating out, or, having many guests at the table who the server must care for to satisfy the table. The tip grows, in relation to the work put forward.
If using the percentage based tipping system, we may consider following restaurant tipping protocol, with tips going from the 15% range, extending upwards to 20% for a really solid tip, and up to 25% or more to go above and beyond. It is really up to you, what you are blessed to be able to offer, and, perhaps most importantly, how happy you are with the work and experience that you have received. Any tip is appreciated greatly. It helps put food on the table and it also makes you proud because the customer’s tip lets you know that you did a good job, and that the customer is happy.
Paying And Tipping In Cash
It is also helpful to tip in cold hard cash, even when paying for the work with your credit or debit card. I guess at this point, it would be pertinent to note that cash payments for tattooing are always best, in general. If you know what your tattoo is going to cost beforehand, consider stopping by the bank a few days prior to get cash ready for the job. In the case of the credit card processing fees, the artist is charged around 3% for each transaction. It’s funny, or sad, really, how fast this can add up, over the weeks, months, and years of running a business.
Selecting A Tattoo Artist Who Will Deserve A Tip
As tattoo work is expensive, choosing a quality tattoo artist can be a daunting task financially. Large work that unfolds over many sessions is definitely an investment. In my opinion, tattoo work is something that you should maybe overextend yourself on, cost-wise. I find it un-important to spend beyond your means on most material things. Tattoos, though, are with you all the time, everywhere you go, for as long as you live, and are one expense most would advise you splurge on. In this case, perhaps you are living beyond your means a little bit for the tattoo artist you are choosing to work with. In that case, you know you are getting the best, and should be of a thankful mindset to work with him. However, he would rather see you come to him, and tip him on the low side or not at all, than to see you think that you cannot afford him, and go to a lesser artist, and pay less, therefore having more money left over to tip more for work that its worth less.
How To Tip For Multiple Session Tattoos
Finally, there are a few things to note here that are good to know and remember. Try and tip on the full amount of the tattoo. If you have already paid a deposit, and it will be subtracted from your session- your session price will be lower, so 20% of that amount will be lower than 20% of the total tattoo cost. In the event that the tattoo artist is offering you a deal on your tattoo, whether it is because you are a long time customer or just helped occupy his time at a slow period at work, you may consider tipping the artist a percentage of the normal price that the tattoo might have been. In the case where you are getting work done over a number of sessions, tip at the end of each session, just as you pay at the end of each session. Do not withhold the tip until the last session is finished, rather, divide your tip up and tip as you go along.
I think that covers just about all the aspects of tipping your tattoo artist, from the broader points to the finer subtleties, brought to you as only an experienced tattoo artist could. These tipping pointers are given to you straight from the horse’s mouth, and now you have an in depth understanding of how to tip your tattoo artist. Use this info in the way that best expresses you and how you feel about your new tattoo, and the artist who put it on. I wish you many more tattoos to come, and success in all of your endeavors! See you at the tattoo shop!
The Impact Of Your Tip: Support The Artist
The above essay was written by Carl Hallowell. If you are interested in traditional Japanese tattoos, schedule your appointment today with Carl Hallowell. Carl Hallowell stands as a beacon in Dallas’s tattoo industry. Each piece crafted by Carl is a testament to his dedication to perfection, making him the go-to artist for those seeking authentic and visually stunning tattoos. His commitment to preserving the traditions of tattooing has proven successful over many years, earning him the title of the best tattoo artist in Dallas.
As you step into his studio, remember that if you decide to tip, it is not just an acknowledgment of the masterpiece on your skin, but a contribution to the enduring legacy of traditional Japanese tattooing in DFW.