- Posted by Carl Hallowell
- On July 27, 2018
I get the “how much to tip a tattoo artist” 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 a Dallas tattoo artist, I thought, I should write this down. It could benefit both customers and artists alike!
First Steps To Tipping Your Dallas Tattoo Artist
First of all, 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 his experience, his importance to the shop, his tenure at the shop, as well as business things that balance the equation such as what supplies the shop provides, etc. While a portion of your tattoo cost goes to the house, all of your tips go directly to the artist. To a worker who gives some of his earnings over to a shop, it feels good to know that the tip is all his!
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 traditional American tattooing put on, and how hard the tattoo artist works to achieve it, tipping your tattoo artist has become very commonplace. So much so that, after finishing a job the tattoo artist has put 110% into, it is disheartening not to receive any tip at all.
Not Every Tattoo Artist Is Equal In Their Ability And The Tip Can Reflect This
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. Don’t 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.
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. This is heartwarming. 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. This type of thank you is heard 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!
Tattooing Can Be Expensive, But Quality Comes With Cost
As tattoo work is expensive, choosing a great 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 a car, and foolish to spend too much on housing. Tattoos, though they are with you all the time, everywhere you go, for as long as you live. 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 the mindset of a tipping him at least a little something. However, he would rather see you come to him, and tip him on the low side, 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.
We all know what station of life we are coming from, and how generous we can afford to be when it comes to tipping. The service person knows what station you are coming from too! It is hard, while I am being as descriptive and transparent as possible, to work on a session while the customer flashes expensive cars, clothing or jewelry, or brags of their wealth and good fortune, to be forgotten with no tip, or a meager tip at the end of the service. On the other hand, when working on a younger customer who is just starting out in life on their own, you don’t expect too much from their tip, but they can surprise you with their generosity! A lot of times, I guess the old adage stands true, “The rich get rich by being tight with their money”! Try not to let this attitude of frugality extend to the service industry!
Add A Tip Based On Percent
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 add to your credit card total as a tip 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, because the more in-depth the work is, the higher the cost of a 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 beginning in the 15% range, extending upwards to 20% for a really solid tip, and up to 25% or even 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. And the more generous ones just blow you away. It is very psychological, it makes you proud to receive the tip because it lets you know that you did a good job, that the customer is happy. In a weird way, it is like receiving a present. It makes us feel important.
Many tattoo artists in Dallas use the Square credit card reader for ease of use, portability, and the ability to link it to a personal bank account. When paying using this type of credit card terminal, a tip screen will pop up before taking you to the signature page. Three different percentage based tip options will pop up, and the amount of tip will even be calculated right there for you. Below the three options there will be a custom option, you can tap on this button to enter a tip of your own making, whether you wish to exceed the highest percentage offered, add a tip you had previously predetermined, or simply make sure the tip is a nice round number.
Cash Is Always King
Of course, You could always 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 always work the 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 Square reader, the artist is charged a flat rate of 2.75% 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.
Helpful Tips To Remember When Tipping Your Tattoo Artist
Finally, there are a few things to note here that are good to know and good to remember. Try and tip on the full amount of the tattoo. If you have already paid a deposit- the charge at the time of the tattoo will be lower, so 20% of that amount will be lower than 20% of the total tattoo cost. Also, 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 you. I wish you many more tattoos to come and success in all of your endeavors! If you’re looking for your next Japanese tattoo or traditional tattoo contact me today and see you at the tattoo shop!