Should You Tip an Artist When Buying Their Artwork? (Explained)

When a bartender renders excellent service, you tip him. In the salon, you tip your hairdresser for a job well done. When a valet returns your car in a good condition, you offer a little extra for the job.

I am not in the habit of tipping even when I am impressed with a particular service. However, when I walked into an artist-owned shop and bought a painting, the work was so outstanding that I thought to drop a tip. Of course, I knew it was a norm to tip people for their services, but I never thought of tipping artists when buying their artwork.

You should tip an artist when buying artwork. It is customary and a sign of appreciation to offer a little more for something you are impressed with. If a painting or other piece of art appeals to you and you decide to purchase it directly from the artist, a tip will be appreciated.

This was what I learned after I added a few extra dollars to the original amount I was to pay for the painting. Although the extra cash was little, the artist favored me with an appreciative smile and some ideas on how to preserve the artwork I had bought. I have to admit it was satisfying to commend an artist for an exceptional creation.

So, if you’ve been wondering if you should tip an artist, I’ll show you all the reasons and situations where you should.

Why should you tip an artist?

Should You Tip an Artist When Buying Their Artwork?

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If you’re a person who loves tipping people for a job well done, then tipping an artist will be second nature. However, some people find this unnecessary. I fell into the latter category until I learned otherwise.  

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Artworks are quite expensive and many consider it a waste to offer extra cash for something that costly. For you to want the artwork in the first place means that you love it. Irrespective of how costly that painting is, a little bonus would not hurt. 

You should consider the time and effort that the artist put into creating the artwork. Many spend hours in front of the canvas, sketching, drawing, and painting, sometimes repeating the process until they find the proper inspiration. 

Unlike some types of art, artworks take a while to complete. Depending on the creative approach an artist uses, some could take weeks to develop an art piece to perfection.

While tipping is not mandatory, it becomes more necessary if the artwork is custom-crafted or done on consignment. Creating custom artwork to a person’s taste can be tough. Thus, when an artist meets up to your expectations, tips serve as encouragement and appreciation for a job well done.

A great example of this is the case of a tattoo artist. The artist has designed a tattoo specifically for you (commissioned art) and you’ve agreed on a price. After meticulously recreating the design on your body it is generally accepted that you should plan on adding a tip to the agreed-upon price.

When feeling appreciated, an artist will only want to make the next art piece better than the last, in order to impress their customers.

You should also remember that artists have to spend money on several things. They have to buy supplies, pay bills, and still cater to other needs. Though a tip might not solve all their problems, it goes a long way in supporting them.

Extra cash for a job makes an artist happy, regardless of how little it is. So, if you’re not going to tip an artist for any other reason, do it to make the artist happy.

Times to tip or not tip for art

Here are some specific situations that will help you decide if a tip is warranted or not.

Do Tip:

  • When purchasing original art directly from the artist. Especially if he or she has gone above and beyond for you in any way (i.e. artists personal shop, art fair, etc).
  • Be purchasing artwork that was directly commisioned to the artist by you.
  • When purchasing art from a shop run by an artist collective. An additional tip will help the art collective continue to promote all of it’s artists.

Don’t Tip:

  • When buying art from a sales person at a gallery.
  • When purchasing art online (wall art, reproductions, digital art, etc).
  • There’s no need to tip if buying art at an auction house or coffee shop.
  • If your buying art that is being resold (i.e. private party, estate sale, etc.)

How much should you tip an artist?

Customarily, you should tip an artist an additional 20% of the total cost. This is not a hard and fast rule and you can decide to go beyond it or below it. However, this percentage has become a norm where tipping is concerned. 

Different ways to tip an artist

Should You Tip an Artist When Buying Their Artwork?

When offering extra money for good service, do so discreetly. You can decide to slip the money into the actual amount of the artwork or offer the tip in a special envelope. That way, your offer is more appreciated and valued by the artist. 

When you think of tipping, the first thing that crosses your mind is giving extra money. This idea is a general concept surrounding tips. But, tipping is not always monetary.

You could tip an artist, by recommending their service to another person interested in purchasing artwork. A referral brings better clients to an artist which also means more cash.

Aside from this, sharing the artist’s work on social media platforms is another way of tipping the artist. These platforms make it possible to reach as many individuals as you wish. With this exposure, interested individuals will willingly patronize the services of such artists.

Though you never offered extra monetary value in these cases, you have increased the artist’s audience base with your personal recommendation within your circle of influence.

Do I tip an artist for a commissioned work?

Commissioned work is a service an artist offers to a person in exchange for money. Every individual has preferences and expects these artists to create the commissioned artwork to suit them. There are different types of arts that a person might want.

For instance, you could commission an artist to create paintings that’ll be best for interior design. Or, you could want a pencil sketch portrait of yourself. In the latter case, an artist will need clear photographs as a reference; for the former, the artist could paint based on your ideas.

The prices of commissioned artworks vary and depend on the type of artwork. The specifics of each art piece will determine the time and effort the artist must put into it. After proper evaluation, both parties will come to an agreement about the price of the artwork.

This raises the question of tipping when commissioning artworks. The reason is that both parties have reached an agreement, and have decided on a price. So do you still have to tip the artist for a commissioned artwork?

Whether the artwork is commissioned or uncommissioned should not affect your decision to tip the artist. After payment of the agreed amount, you can offer a bonus to the artist if the artwork is exceptional and you are happy with the outcome. 

However, it is a different case when you’re not happy with an artist’s work. If this is the case, there is no reason to consider tipping the artist as you’re unsatisfied by the result of the artwork.

If the reverse is the case, you should consider offering a little more. But, remember that tipping an artist is not mandatory; it is a matter of personal choice.

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