Home LifeStyle Expert tattoo artists talk to InStyle about tipping etiquette when you get new ink. From tattoo sleeves to minimal designs, this is the ultimate guide to tattoo tipping.

Expert tattoo artists talk to InStyle about tipping etiquette when you get new ink. From tattoo sleeves to minimal designs, this is the ultimate guide to tattoo tipping.

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Experts break down proper etiquette for ink.

It’s standard practice to leave a tip for our hairstylist, manicurist, and even makeup artist for when you go glam for special events. But what about your tattoo artist? If you’re looking to add new ink or considering your first-ever tattoo, tipping your tattoo artist is something that should be top of mind — and factored into your budget, since tattoos are often an investment.

To get a better idea on what the appropriate amount is, we turned to the experts to share the details. Here, what to keep in mind when considering how much to tip for a tattoo.

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The Right Tip is a Range

According to Pablo Gomez, a Brooklyn-based tattoo artist at Atelier Eva, tipping anywhere from 15 percent to 25 percent of the total cost is considered a good tip — regardless of the type of tattoo you get.

Dim, a resident artist at Blindreason Tattoo, considers 20 percent of the total price to be the average amount people tip for their new ink, especially in New York City. But, he says, this is still dependent on the individual client — and there are people who won’t tip at all.

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Tip Based on Service, Not Time

If you're going to calculate your tip with the average percentage mentioned above, then naturally, getting a larger tattoo will result in a more expensive process — and therefore tip. But our experts don't view the time spent or certain types of art as a way to gauge how much you should tip; tipping, they say, should be based on how enjoyable the service was for you.

"Like when you’re ordering a coffee and are treated rudely in the process, I don’t think you need to tip," says Gomez. "In tattooing, if you weren’t comfortable with the experience, or the tattoo itself doesn’t match what you and your artist spoke about, I don’t think a large tip — or any tip for that matter — is necessary."

When deciding to tip or not, he says to ask yourself the following questions:

    Did you feel heard during the consultation process?Did your artist give feedback and make the right changesDid you feel at ease during the session?Are you happy with the final results?
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If you are generally pleased with your service, then you can decide what works best for you and your budget.

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Heads up: There are obviously exceptions to the time rule, such as multiple sessions on large pieces. And, if an artist goes above and beyond to cater to your needs, then tipping generously is the right thing to do. "I once had a really hard time making my mind up on a design for a personal tattoo of mine, and my artist was exceedingly patient with me and went to great lengths to be sure I was happy," Gomez says. "This is something I tipped generously for."

Why It's Worth Tipping

Both Gomez and Dim say that tipping isn't essential, but it is a kind way of showing your artist appreciation for their service and for their work. "I don't believe it's necessary for you to provide a tip. In fact, it doesn't make a difference if you choose not to tip — even if you enjoyed the tattoo," says Dim. "I genuinely appreciate it when a customer decides to give me a tip, but please know that I'm not disappointed if they don't."

Gomez is in the same camp. "Every artist assigns value to their work the way they think is appropriate, which is the quoted price. So the tip really becomes a gesture of gratitude that tells me that the client feels like I gave more than what was expected," says Gomez. "And for me, this is the goal."

Your tip, if you want to give one, doesn't always have to be monetary, either. "It's important to note that gratitude can also be expressed through kind words and gestures, not solely through tipping," says Dim.

Bottom line: Although not mandatory — nor as expected as it might be in other industries — tipping is a great way to build a relationship with your artist and show your thanks for their service. Even if it's only a little bit, a little goes a long way.

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