What do you know (or think you know) about tattoo artists? I personally know a little. Not a lot mind you, as I am NOT a tattoo artist – merely a groupie. What I have gleaned is that there are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be a “real” tattoo artist, how hard (or easy) that particular job can be, and especially how much money you make.
In the past I have written about 10 Ways to Piss Off Your Tattoo Artist, Tipping and Your Tattoo Artist, and How to Act at a Tattoo Shop. Looks like I’m pretty opinionated about something I know only a little about.
As it turns out, however, some of my dearly held opinions are also shared by actual real live tattoo artists. The following article was submitted by a reader who is also a tattoo artist. Thank you A. for confirming many of my opinions and adding your voice (and some much needed credibility) to this blog!
THREE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT TATTOOERS
(If nobody says it, no one will know…)
(If nobody says it, no one will know…)
3. All tattooers are rich (so skipping your appointment wont matter).
While many people probably believe this is true because tattoos can get expensive, this is a misconception. Many people aren’t aware that when you hand over your payment at the end of your session, your artist is only keeping a percentage of that amount.
Every shop is different, but many tattooers don’t charge for drawing time or consultations, they pay for their own gear and supplies, and their taxes. They have families to support and bills to pay. So as in every industry, there are those that differ, but most tattooers make an average and honest living. And when they don’t tattoo, they don’t get paid. If you bail on your appointment, chances are that artist is going home with a big dent in their paycheque.
This is an uncomfortable topic but seemed necessary to address. Some websites will tell you that tattooers make enough money so you shouldn’t tip. Others say proper tipping etiquette is between 15 and 20 percent!
There are different circumstances to tip someone in a service industry. A waitress, who depends on her tip, is going to get at least 15% from a decent human being, regardless if she goes “above and beyond”. We tip our servers and delivery people out of respect, and because most of them work hard and aren’t making the big bucks.
When you tip a tattooer, it comes down to your personal experience. If you know that your artist worked incredibly hard on a custom design just for you, or gave you an unbelievable deal, or even if you are just so happy with your beautiful piece that you can’t stop smiling, then go ahead and tip.
And tip whatever you feel comfortable tipping. Some tip ten, some tip 100. Some tip with a gift, some with cookies. It depends on the client, and it depends on the tattoo. If all you can genuinely afford is a hug or a handshake, go for it.
And most importantly…
1. Tattooers just “whip up” custom designs for people in their spare time.
A friend recently expressed that she was under the impression that tattooers draw for their clients while they are at the shop, and get paid by the hour to do so. However, contrary to what reality tv show editors would have you believe, custom artists don’t create masterpieces in 15 minutes.
Many of them spend hours (if not days) every week researching, sketching, painting, photo shopping, and stenciling out custom designs for people (and on their own time from home). A custom design that would take 2-3 hours to tattoo can sometimes take 1-2 hours to design.
The reason most shops require an appointment and a deposit to book something is because tattooers would be drawing for prospective clients around the clock for free, without even the promise of commitment. No one wants their time wasted. Portfolios and consultations are important so that you know you are choosing the right artist for your tattoo.
(twitter shout out to the best caption for this photo!!)
Most custom tattooers love what they do and enjoy working with people. “Tattoo etiquette” is simply a matter of respecting a shop’s policies. Every client should be treated equally and with care, and there is no reason to expect more or less.
thank you again to A. for contributing