How To Start Your Own Tattoo Shop

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 10, 2020
    Last Updated: November 10, 2020

Tattooing is now accepted around the world as true art. More people than ever before are enjoying the benefits of this art form, and, as a result, the industry is growing each year.

The average cost to open a tattoo shop can be $50K or higher. While this is true, the increase in demand for tattoos means you can quickly recoup your investment if you play your cards right.


Understand the Related Costs for Opening a Tattoo Shop

For most people, the cost of the process will matter. When you are first starting out, there are two things to remember:

  1. Some steps prohibit tattoo studios because of health regulations
  2. It can be difficult to establish your business as a professional if you do not have a storefront

There are several things you must invest in before you open your tattoo shop. Some of these items can be found for deals and discounts, so it is a good idea to budget for these accordingly. Some of the things you will have to invest in include

  • Signs
  • Wall art
  • Tattoo equipment
  • Website
  • Portfolio of work
  • Tables
  • Shelves, cabinets, and displays

You can learn more about the necessary equipment below.

Get to Know the Ongoing Costs and Expenses

Aside from the standard expenses related to running a storefront, you will also have to cover supplies and marketing costs. You will go through a lot of ink and gloves, along with quality cleaning supplies. When you first start out, some artists and business owners spend more than $1,000 per month on supplies; however, this varies based on how busy your business is.

How Will Tattoo Parlor’s Make Money?

Owners will earn income by placing permanent art on customers. Usually, you will have one or more artists in the space who will pay rent to work there, or the owner will pay a commission to bring more artists in.

What Can You Charge Your Customers?

Most customers are charged a per-hour rate. Other projects can be charged at a flat rate. The hourly rates for the average tattoo artist range between $80 and $350. The more experience an artist has, the more of a name they can make for themselves, and the more money they can charge for their services.

Remember, what you can charge is also determined by your local area. Certain parts of the U.S. can charge more than others, so be sure you know what is considered competitive in your local area – this can usually be done with a little market research.

Learn the Tattoo Art Form and Industry

Take time to learn the tattoo business and invest in proper training. You do not have to be a tattoo artist to become a tattoo shop owner. However, it would help if you had an understanding of the business side of things. If you are new to tattooing, sign up for an apprenticeship to ensure you know what to do.

If you are a non-practicing shop owner, make sure that you spend plenty of time researching the profession. Another option is to partner with an experienced tattooist. This will provide you with the know-how and expertise to succeed in this field.

Know the Local Regulations

Contact the county, state, or city health department to determine the regulations for tattoo shops in the area. The laws related to sanitation and tattooing vary across the county; however, regardless of where you live, there will be specific limitations and regulations you must follow.

You can use the information at the AAA Tattoo Directory, where you can find an entire list of states and the tattooing prohibitions and regulations. The local area’s governing divisions can direct you to the appropriate agencies to help you find all the information needed for the required license and permits.

Create a Business Plan

Like any other business venture, you must create a business plan and learn about software to help you with your tattoo venture. The business plan you create outlines the specific amount of capital needed to begin your shop and allows you to calculate future profits.

There is also an array of software programs available to help you build your business plan. You can hire a professional accountant to help with this.

Keep in mind, the name of your business is another important consideration. It can also be extremely challenging. If you do not have a name in mind, you need to do some brainstorming to develop something that works and catches the attention of potential clients.

If you are opening a sole proprietorship, you may want to operate your business with a name besides your own. Make sure you register your business name once you have selected it. This will help ensure that no one else can use your great idea.

Purchase Business Insurance

Similar to permits and licenses, your business requires insurance to operate lawfully and safely. With the right business insurance, your business’s financial well-being will be covered if a loss occurs.

Several types of insurance policies exist for different businesses based on the risks they face. For tattoo shops, starting with general liability insurance is smart. Another type of insurance policy you should have is workers’ compensation insurance, which is required by law if you have employees.

Select the Right Location

You need to find a location for your tattoo shop that offers plenty of foot traffic that is within the areas where your permits are valid.

Remember, visibility is a huge part of building a successful business. While it depends on the building you choose, you may have to make alterations or improvements to accommodate your artists and ensure the facility has all the needed equipment.

You may have to add partitions, electrical outlets, plumbing, and sinks. If you rent a building, be sure to acquire permission, in writing, from the property owner before any renovation.

Open a Business Checking Account

To protect your personal assets, you must use a dedicated business banking account and credit card. If you mix your personal and business accounts, your personal assets, such as your car, home, and other valuables, will be at risk if your business is sued.

It is also a good idea to learn how to build credit for your business. This will ensure you have the ongoing capital you need for continued growth.

Create a Marketing Campaign

It would help if you created an advertising campaign to begin marketing your new tattoo shop. If you want to ensure you have access to an ongoing flow of clients, you must have a strategic marketing plan in place long before your shop’s grand opening.

Some of the steps you should consider taking include network marketing, social media marketing, and distributing fliers and other printed materials. You can also invest in radio and television ads and even word of mouth. It would help if you tried to start your marketing campaign a minimum of 30 to 60 days before opening your tattoo shop – or when you have set the opening date.

Furnish the Tattoo Shop

Decorate and furnish your workspace, office areas, and reception area. Purchase and install all the needed furnishings to accommodate your clients and artists. The work areas should include reclining chairs – like the ones at a dentist’s office – large mirrors, supply carts, lighted tracing tables, and more.

Your reception area also needs shelves, chairs, couches, counters, and locations to display basic art designs. If you plan to offer body jewelry, you also need glass display cases. The office area will probably need a file cabinet, chair, and desk.

Purchase the Needed Supplies and Equipment

Before you open your tattoo shop, be sure you are properly stocked with all the proper equipment, materials, and supplies needed to function efficiently and properly. The supplies and equipment needed for tattooing usually include tools to sanitize your equipment, latex or plastic gloves, plastic spray bottles, ink paper towels, needles, ink, and tattooing machines.

Hire Professional Staff

Hiring a professional team of tattoo artists to staff your studio is a must. Depending on your shop’s size and the clients you expect to generate, you will probably need at least a few professionally trained individuals. Before scheduling your grand opening, evaluate the potential clients you will serve and make sure you have plenty of artists on-staff to handle these clients.

Opening Your New Tattoo Shop

If you are wondering how to open a tattoo shop, the information here should help you get started. With this information, you can feel confident that you will be well-prepared for the challenges you will face in this industry.

Remember, you are going to face an array of challenges when you open a tattoo shop. To ensure you can overcome these challenges, you need a plan. This plan will serve as your guide to help you make it through the tough and challenging times you may face along the way. This is a growing industry, which means you will likely recoup your initial investment quickly.