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Fringe Economy: Tip Jars

2016 to ~2020
Photo: tip jar with decorative pigs on either side.

Project Description

This is an ongoing documentary series started in late 2016.

On the surface these tip jars display the various creative (and not so creative) approaches service workers ply for more compensation. On a deeper level the request for tips demonstrates the insufficient hourly pay that typical service workers receive, as well their desire for approval and the relationship between buyer and seller (which can have a discrete tension).

Furthermore, tip jars speak to the decades-long income plateau of the middle class, as once high-paid manufacturing jobs have moved abroad, fringe benefits have declined and job security has transformed into 'gigging.' The rising cost of living is heavily driven by the strength of the finance and tech sectors, while service economy workers try to find a footing.

Photo: tip jar from above
Tip Jar No. 68, Moka Origins, 2020.
Photo: tips loosely sitting on glass counter
Tip Jar No. 56, Sunac Market, 2019.
Photo: plastic container used as tip jar.

Tip Jar No. 52, Golden Dumpling, 2018.

Photo: tip jar still life seen from above

Tip Jar No. 64, Irving Farm Cafe, 2018.

Photo: metal can used for tip jar.

Tip Jar No. 59, Bookery Cafe, 2018.

Photo: bright yello box used as a tip jar

Tip Jar No. 49, Mikes Donuts, 2018.

Photo: plastic jar used as a tip jar

Tip Jar No. 59, Williamsburg Falafel, 2018.

Photo: collage cardboard tube used as a tip jar.

Tip Jar No.3, Broadway Pizza, 2018.