Business Overview

Dr. John Martin, a professor at London’s University College, once said, “Life depends on science but the arts make it worth living.” One of the most popular modern forms of expressing ourselves and sharing our love of art is through tattoos. Tattoo artists turn their client’s visions into reality through the process of inserting pigment into the skin’s dermis with needles.

Who is this business right for?

Tattoo shop owners who have found the most success are fully engulfed in the art community. They value free expression and recognize that art comes in many different forms. Tattoo artists with an entrepreneurial spirit and the drive to take their career to the next level should consider opening their own studio.

What happens during a typical day at a tattoo parlor?

Tattoo shop owners spend a majority of their day with clients. Before starting a project, the artist and client will meet for a consultation. This is to ensure they are both on the same page regarding the vision of the piece. The customer will either arrive with an idea and let the artist draw the plans, or they will come with a drawing in hand. Once the specifics are ironed out, the artist can start on the tattoo. Some pieces can be completed in a couple hours, while others are an ongoing project to be completed in multiple sessions.

Your work will require a lot of tools, all of which must be sterile. Some shops use an autoclave to sterilize needles and equipment, while others have shifted to using disposable equipment. Whichever route you choose, part of your day will be spent ensuring you have all the ink and supplies necessary to maintain a safe and sterile tattoo shop.

Downtime can spent drawing, painting, and dreaming up new ideas for custom tattoos. This offers you additional work to add to your portfolio, pieces to decorate your studio or sell on the side, and could also be put on display online to attract new customers to your business.

What is the target market?

This varies from shop to shop. Some studios accept walk-ins and have standard art hung on the wall for clients to choose from. They accept custom jobs, but the bulk of their income is supported by walk-in traffic. Others are looking for more inspiration in their work. They have put in their time in the tattoo business, and reserve the right to turn down any piece that doesn’t represent the brand they’re building for themselves.

How does a tattoo parlor make money?

Owners earn their income by tattooing permanent art on their customers. Generally several artists share studio space. They either pay rent to the owner, or pay the owner a commission on each piece they do in the shop.

What is the growth potential for a tattoo parlor?

The tattoo industry yields an average of $2.3 billion annually and nearly 40% of 18-39 year olds now have a tattoo. While many owners choose to keep their business small and intimate, there are some, such as Inksmith & Rogers who’ve found success opening multiple locations. The key to long-term growth is hiring only stellar artists to represent your brand.