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payment and gratuity guideance | Tattoo hubTattoo

payment and gratuity guideance

a word on paying for tattoos

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Collecting tattoos is a rather expensive hobby.  A good investment, to be certain, considering tattoos are the only thing you can buy that you will use all day, every day, for the remainder of your life.  If you are thinking of getting tattooed, it is wise to focus on what tattoo you would like, and don’t worry about the tattoo cost.  You only have one opportunity to make the commitment to each area of your skin, so don’t make sacrifices to a lifelong commitment due to being short on cash.  If you cannot afford the tattoo you truly want, try saving your money until you can afford it.  Some clients who have difficulty saving their money find it helpful to bring in a little money when they can and sort of “lay-away” their tattoos.  Another option, is to get your tattoo completed in stages, so that you do not have to pay the entire cost all at once.  Many people take out a credit card solely for their tattoo, so that they can charge regular sessions and pay for the tattoo when it suits them, which is always an option, but one I would strongly caution anyone against unless you are very responsible with your finances.

Regardless of your method of financing your tattoos, when it comes time to pay, there are only two accepted forms of payment.


or by credit card.

no checks…  ever…  period.

By the “piece” or by the hour?  Be certain how your tattooer charges, and what your tattooer charges.  Some tattooers charge a flat rate for the tattoo or “by the piece”, while other artists charge an hourly rate.  While to some, a flat rate may seem preferable, my experience has shown otherwise.  If a tattooer has to offer a customer a flat rate price for a job, they are essentially doing figures in their head in an attempt to guess how long the tattoo will take them to apply, multiply that by the hourly rate they would like to get, and offering you that number.  The result is a number which is almost always inflated, to insure against the work taking longer than expected.  When paying by the “piece” for tattoos, someone ALWAYS gets shafted, either the artist, or the collector.  Play it safe and work with a tattooer who charges by the hour if you want a fair price.  HOWEVER, when a tattooer charges hourly, they need to be respectful of YOUR time as well.  If your tattooer is charging hourly rates, they need to be WORKING for the hours billed.  Due to the physical strain on the tattooers body, it is reasonable to take breaks, roughly once per hour to stretch, use the restroom, etc.  Otherwise your artist needs to be WORKING.  A tattooer charging by the hour who takes phone calls, very long smoke breaks, lunches, and seems overall to be wasting a lot of time and not getting much done, is milking the hourly rate to get as much money from you as they can.  Conversely, if you’re dealing with a tattooer who for any reason cannot help but take a lot of breaks and isn’t efficient with their time, it would make more sense to be charged a flat rate.

Normally, in respectable tattoo shops, payment is due when services are rendered.  This means you pay when the session is finished, not before it has begun.  Large tattoos are paid for session by session, so you only pay for the work that was performed that day. (any shop that demands payment before the tattoo is done is probably accustomed to working with a shady clientele who are often trying to run out without paying.  This may mean that you are in a shady tattoo shop.  If you are shady yourself, or are okay with getting tattooed in a shady shop, stay put and carry on.  If you don’t want to be tattooed in a shady shop, you might want to leave at this point).


Deposit money is applied to the END of your tattoo.  If you finish your tattoo in a single session, the amount you paid as a deposit (if any) will be deducted from the total cost.  If you are getting a tattoo that will require multiple sessions, your deposit will not be applied to the price of the session until the LAST session when your tattoo is completely finished.  Don’t make the mistake of showing up to your first appointment for a multiple session tattoo a few hundred dollars short expecting your deposit to be credited back to you.

GRATUITY (tipping):

Tipping is NOT compulsory for tattoo service, though it is customary.  Wether or not you choose to tip your tattoo artist is completely up to you.  As in any other service industry the idea of a gratuity is to reward excellent service.  If you feel as though your tattoo artist has exceeded your hopes or expectations, and has really made the whole experience enjoyable for you, then a tip is a great way to show your appreciation.  The most common question after “am I supposed to tip you?” that I hear on this topic is “how much is a good tip?”.  This is an awkward and difficult question to answer, and if possible try to avoid putting your tattooer on the spot with this one, and just read this…  If  a hard working individual can barely afford their tattoo, I think a large cash tip is unnecessary.  If Bill Gates gets tattooed in my shop, I hope he tips me at least half a million dollars or so.  Base your decision to tip or not to tip on how good  the service and product are, and choose the amount of the tip (if any) on what you can afford.  Large cash tips are always a treat, but even ten dollars can buying someone lunch, or a couple of beers.  Many clients bring breakfast tacos, a small souvenir from a recent trip,  or home raised eggs to share, and these are all wonderful and appreciated ways to “tip”.   I think the idea behind tipping your tattooer is to say “thank you, it’s worth what I paid, and more”.  I know that I could not put a dollar amount on the value of the tattoos Ive gotten over the years. I think all  veteran tattoo collectors know this, and this is why tipping has become customary in tattoo shops.

a word of caution to those who lack moral fiber:

If you have an appointment for a certain number of hours, BE PREPARED to pay for that number of hours.  In other words, don’t make a four hour appointment and arrive with only enough money to pay for three hours.  If finances are a problem, contact your tattoo artist in advance to discuss the situation and arrange for a shorter session.  Furthermore, it is very important that you NEVER allow your tattoo artist to work for longer than you have the money to pay for before bringing it to their attention.  This is very rare, but it does happen.  Accepting tattoo services without having the money to pay for them is a CLASS A MISDEMEANOR, will result in your arrest, a hefty fine,associated court costs, and attorneys fees for yourself and the tattoo artist, as well as payment of the services rendered, so PLEASE- don’t be “that guy”.  Be prepared to pay for the service rendered.

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