How Much Should You Tip Your Tattoo Artist? We Asked an Expert

Booking an appointment for a new tattoo is always exciting, but there's so much more that goes into planning your session than just figuring out what design you want. There's deciding what area to ink, budgeting for the cost, and even figuring out how much you should tip your tattoo artist.

While it isn't mandatory, tipping your beauty providers is a good way of showing your appreciation for the work they do, especially if they're providing a service like tattooing, which requires an extra amount of skill and attention to detail.

"Those that tip well and often really let us know they see what we're doing as artists and how hard it really is, and that we're not just in service to them but creating an experience and exchange that has greater value than the one-time piece or experience," New York City-based tattoo artist Gianna Galli told POPSUGAR. "I charge a fair amount for my services and do large-scale/multisession work and charge an hourly rate I feel is fair compensation for my services, so I never expect tips. That being said, it's taken me a long time to get to that point in my career."

According to Galli, most tattoo artists typically have to pour at least half of what they earn from tattooing back into their businesses, usually for supplies, which, she noted, have tripled in price during the pandemic. "This is typically out of pocket since what is supplied by the shop might often be subpar, and a good tattooer will try and go beyond to make sure we're using quality products," she said.

Some artists also usually work very long hours in tattoo parlors that don't offer them insurance or worker's compensation, so the cost of mental and physical maintenance often falls on the artist.

So with all that said, how much should you tip at your next tattoo appointment? There's no one-size-fits-all approach to tipping, no matter what the service is for, but usually a tip that amounts to at least 20 percent of what you're paying for the service is a good place to be.

"If someone can afford to tip 20 or 30 percent, that always makes us feel appreciated and really makes a difference in our day," Galli said. "If someone can't afford that, it's always nice if they just say that. Your tattooer should be gracious about it."

As it goes for most luxury beauty services, tattoos can be expensive depending on where you live and whom you entrust to do the job. It's also a skill that takes years to master and sometimes even longer for those in the profession to become financially stable, so even though an extra $20 following your appointment would be appreciated, you shouldn't worry if it's not something you can afford. As Galli pointed out, "kindness is a great tip, too."