How to Pay Tattoo Shop Employees

by Maude Coffey; Updated September 26, 2017

There are two ways that tattoo shop owners can pay their employees, and an owner can decide which system is most beneficial. When paying by percentage, the more money a tattoo artist generates means higher income for the owner. The amount continuously fluctuates, however, leaving the shop owner estimating the income each month. Booth rental is optimal during slow periods at the tattoo shop. The owner receives a set amount of money regardless if the tattoo artist has made money or not that week or month. This it does not allow the shop owner to make higher amounts during a peak season.

Items you will need

  • Tattoo shop
  • Employees
  • Business checking account
  • Business checkbook


Step 1

Determine how much income you will need monthly to keep the bills paid at the tattoo shop. Remember to not only factor in bills such as rent and utilities, add in additional costs such as licensing fees and advertising costs.

Step 2

Figure in the costs of supplies and determine if the employees will be responsible for the supplies or if the owner will be.

Step 3

Offer a fair percentage to the employees. Professional tattoo shops usually offer 50 or 60 percent to the employees per tattoo--60 if the tattoo artist is responsible for their own supplies and 50 if they are supplied by the owner.

Step 4

Pay the employees daily with cash, and write checks weekly for credit card sales. Keep records of each payment for the shop's yearly taxes. Most tattoo artists are independent contractors and are responsible for their own taxes, licensing and insurance.

Booth Rent

Step 1

Create a weekly or monthly date for the money to be due.

Step 2

Decide the amount for the weekly or monthly booth rent.

Step 3

Collect the money from each employee at the beginning of the week or month.

Step 4

Keep records of each payment for yearly taxes.


  • Hire an accountant to help with yearly taxes.


  • File your taxes each year as required by law.

About the Author

Maude Coffey retired after 10 years working as a professional body modification artist in the tattoo industry. She is certified in principles of infection control and blood-borne pathogens. Coffey received additional training and classes, such as anatomy, jewelry standards and aftercare, from the Association of Professional Piercers. Coffey aims to educate about safe tattooing and piercing practices while writing for various websites.