Whether you’re an apprentice about to get licensed, a tattoo artist working in a larger studio environment or a studio manager looking to open a brand new business, starting a tattoo shop or studio can be a bit intimidating when you start the process.
While of course, being able to practice your art in ways that people can enjoy for a lifetime is highly fulfilling and fun, tattooing is still a business, and there are things you’ll need if you want to run that business to the best of your ability.
No matter what your style of tattooing is, you’ll need a few things to get started. Whether you’re planning to get your business started right away or you’re just starting out and looking to do a bit of research, you can’t go wrong with most of these must-haves. Here are the seven things you’ll need if you’re starting a tattoo shop.
Your Tattoo Machine
If you’re a tattoo artist, you likely already have a tattoo machine. If you need a new one, however, your transition into your new business could be the perfect time to find one. Whether you prefer a pen or a rotary style machine, finding a high-quality tattoo machine that makes you feel comfortable as an artist is one of the most important parts of your tattoo business.
Whether you’ve picked up your preferred ink brand during your apprenticeship or you’re still figuring out what works best for you, getting your ink selection down is one of the main ways you can prepare to open your tattoo business.
While those who mainly do black and grey or traditional might have an easier time figuring out exactly what they need, it can be nice to have a vast selection of inks and colors just in case you want to try out something new for a walk-in or custom client.
A Private Space
Each business is different — tattooing or otherwise — but even if you want an inviting street-facing shop with natural light, having at least a room or corner for client privacy might make a lot of people more comfortable, especially those getting more intimate tattoos. If you’re planning a completely private studio, this won’t be a problem. If you’re not, it might be something to think about.
Tattooing is a sanitary practice. As someone who is interested in the tattooing industry, you likely already know how seriously tattoo professionals take sanitation and cleanliness.
In the era of COVID-19, you’ll likely need additional cleaning supplies that might not always be found in tattoo shops. For example, you’ll likely already know to keep gloves and alcohol on hand, but you’ll also want to keep masks and extra paper towels around, just in case.
Tattooing Chairs and Tables
You never know where someone is going to want their tattoo, from their head to their toes. This means you’ll need the proper furniture to set up your clients in comfortable positions.
Usually, artists will have a fold-out table — similar to a massage therapist — and a chair, as well as a stand to rest limbs like arms. You might not think about all of these pieces until you need them, so making sure you have exactly what you need is highly important.
You can’t always trust the daylight to help you along. Whether your appointments stretch late into the night or your studio doesn’t have the windows you desire, proper lighting is a must for the best tattoos.
Usually, LED lighting is the best, and you can find a variety of free-standing lamps that will fit your needs. It’s usually best to have more than one so you can see from multiple angles while you work.
More Artists — If You Want Them
Lastly, if you’re starting a tattoo shop, it’s your choice if you want to hire other artists to work alongside you. The environment of a private tattoo studio is actually quite different from that of a collective tattoo shop.
Usually, private studios don’t take walk-ins and require custom appointments and scheduling. On the other hand, a tattoo shop with many artists often feels like a more collaborative experience. Really, it’s up to you and what kind of business you want to run.
Starting a Tattoo Business
Starting a tattoo shop or studio is just like starting any other business, except this business will allow you to do what you love and give people art that they can carry with them everywhere they go. Once you have what you need, you can get started on working toward that dream, no matter where it takes you.