Ep. 42: Why I No Longer Accept Tip$

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to reconsider something in the industry I always took as a given. A new friend was telling me about her fabulous tattoo artist, someone I'd like to see as well and mentioned that the artist does not take tips. I was surprised, then thoughtful, then in action. 

 Effective immediately I no longer accept tips for my work. 

I think it's important to process such a drastic decision out loud on the podcast with y'all, while at the same time encouraging you to tip your artist if they haven't, like me, decided to no longer accept tips. 

Listen in to understand how I am navigating this shift in the daily dealings of my work, and to heed my advice to those looking to show appreciation for their artists in creative and meaningful ways. 

You can connect with me, Micah Riot, as well as see my tattoo art on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/micahriot/

Micah's website is www.micahriot.com 
The podcast is hosted on Buzzsprout but truly lives in the heart of Micah's website at:

Episode Transcript:

Speaker 1: 

Hello, my darlings, hello. This episode's coming out on the 21st of September of 2023. And today I'm gonna talk to you about why I no longer accept tips from my work. A couple of weeks ago, I was at my friend's pool party and I met some new people and one of her friends had this gorgeous, gorgeous back piece and I was like who did your back piece? It was just really one of the most stunning back pieces I've ever seen in my life. It was black work, it was decorative black work, it had some leaf motifs and it had some borders and I was just stunned by it. So I had to know who it was, because I've been actually looking for a black work decorative black work artist to finish my left sleeve, maybe do some other stuff on me, and so I started asking about the person's artist and the person will tell me about their artist, and one of the things they said about this person was she charges I believe it was 250 an hour, does not accept any tips, and I was like, okay, huh, odd, why not? And the friend said, well, she just raised her rates to the point that she thought was appropriate for her work and she just feels like that's a good rate and she does not accept tips. And my first thought was like, okay, cool, but like I wouldn't do that because I like tips. I mean, who doesn't like more money, right? And it's a way that we people providing a service feel like we know that we did an extra good job and the person's extra happy because they gave us an extra big tip or tip at all or whatever, even though we don't expect it. I certainly don't expect it and don't get hurt when people don't. I do notice if someone seems particularly happy and then they leave me a particularly nice tip. It's nice for my ego. And my next thought was like, but it doesn't have to be that way. I also have clients who haven't, who did not tip and were super grateful and happy about their tattoo, and of course I believe them. And I also have clients who bring me gifts. I literally have clients bringing me a full meal. One of my clients always brings me like actual gifts, like one time it was some traveling like coffee, mugs and chocolate, and she's brought me like this, really beautiful, like big box of coffee and a gorgeous sketchbook, just like this, really beautiful, like paper, beautiful cover. So I get like real ass gifts kind of on a regular basis, and especially with those folks like when they have already shown their gratitude and their excitement about working with me. Like letting them also tip me on top of that feels kind of shitty. So I thought about this for a while for the last couple of weeks and I decided to do away with tips myself, because tips are fucking awkward. It's fucking awkward to be charging somebody a bunch of money. A bunch of money feels like real money To me. Every time I charge somebody money, I'm like this is a lot of money and like, yes, most people make more than I do at their regular jobs with their benefits and et cetera, like their adult person jobs, but it still always feels like a lot of money. I came from. I come from not a lot. My family didn't have much extra. I spent my teenage years staying living on the couch of our living room of a tiny bedroom apartment mom and I shared. I drove a really old car for my first car Like I didn't. Anyway, I didn't come from much, like I didn't come from poverty, but I didn't come from much. So every time someone pays me a bunch of money and then tips me on top of that. It feels like a lot and I'm grateful and I'm excited and also I feel guilty and that's my shit, Like for sure, that's my shit. That's not my client's shit to deal with, but honestly, tips are awkward for all of us. I think the only time it's not awkward is when somebody like sends it to me later, or when they slip me some cash and I'm just gonna ease stuff for myself. There's parts of this job that are harder than other parts and I'm constantly looking for ways to make them easier. And one of the ways I can make this job easier and my life easier and my interactions with my clients easier is to do away with the tips so effective. Now I no longer accept tips. I mean, of course, if you're just like no, I must tip you, like here's money and like you should have money at me, I will take your money. But as far as all of your concerned, I am not expecting tips. I don't accept tips and my rates have increased. So this is the other piece right. So I don't have to rely on tips. I'm gonna increase my rates. I'm gonna raise them up to 300 an hour, which is the going rate. A lot of the people who are tattooing in the Bay have less experience than me. A lot of them are charging three and 400 an hour, so it is time. My rate is now 300 an hour with no tips. And now I'm gonna tell you why you should tip when you go to get tattooed as long as you're going to get tattooed not by me or somebody else who does not accept tips. You should tip because most tattoo artists do rely on tips. Most tattoo artists work in shops and the shop takes a cut, and the cut is usually somewhere between 30 and 50%, so your tattoo artist is not getting the amount that they are asking you for, and most tattoo artists are not in the Bay, so, yes, their expenses are less than ours, but also in other parts of the country and the world it's less customary to charge high prices for your tattoo art, and so a lot of people are charging less than we do here, and it's just fucking expensive living these days. So tip them, especially if they work in a shop and they're not the boss, they're not the owner. Tip them. If they have children, tip them. If they have elderly parents you know about that, they take care of. Tip them. This job is not easy. We don't have benefits, we don't have paid time off, we don't have sick days that are paid, we don't have paid vacation, we don't have covered healthcare. For the most part this is the case. People are self-employed, even in shops. So shops don't provide all those things for us the way that a big person job might for you or somebody else you know. Tip them Unless they told you they don't accept tips. Tip them, especially if you loved your tattoo, especially if they were so nice to you and accommodating and you really felt like you were seen as a full human in your session. They put that extra effort in. It's hard enough to be tattooing. The human element is, you know it's kind of half the job. But a lot of tattoo artists don't take care of the human element of this work. And if they did, if you felt taken care of in all the ways, tip them. As far as how much to tip those other tattoo artists, 20% is nice, but also, if you can't afford 20%, just do whatever you can. And if you can afford more, you can do more if you want. Depends on what you got charged right. And the other thing is you could also like Bring something really fun for them to have, like that's really shows your appreciation to. If you want to show Appreciation but you can't afford to tip or can't afford to tip much and you would like to show extra appreciation, like little trinkets that we can keep in the shop, because we're all little collectors of treasures, we're Squirrels and crows and goblins, like. We like to keep little treasures around. Gems, little figurines, like fidget toys are nice to have also in the shop. So those kinds of things, kind of decorative stuff, art prints yeah, things like that. Plants, of course. Like somebody brought me an orchid a couple of years ago. It's still Ivan, it's still giving flowers, it's pretty. Every time it blooms again, I think about that person. Really, every time I water it I think about the person who gave it to me. So if you want your artists to think about you fondly each time they do stuff around their shop, like dusting or moving things around, bring them a cute little trinket Stickers, pins, whatever. You get it. Okay. So that's, that's it. That's it for this episode. This really felt important to tell you about. It's a big change for me, since I've always Accept that and relied on tips in my career and I find it difficult to charge what I'm worth. So this is an exercise and doing that and also not Expecting extra and not, you know, not really removing myself from that piece of the ego centric validation that can happen sometimes around tips and tipping and and also putting pressure on clients, like clients who tip usually Feel pressure, tip always, and etc. So, yay, I feel like this is an interesting piece of the puzzle that I haven't covered. Thank you to my friend's friend who told me about this practice and Thank you to the tattoo artist that I heard about who is practicing this. I do hope to actually get in her books very soon and maybe even bring her on the podcast. She sounds like a really interesting human, very thoughtful. Thanks y'all. Thanks for listening. I love you and I will see you next week. Have a great week and a great weekend.