How to Open the Tattoo Shop of Your Dreams

There are more than 26,000 tattoo shops operating around the United States as of 2023. If you’re a tattoo artist looking to open your own shop, you must bring your A-game to hang with the competition.

A lot more goes into a successful shop other than the tattoo work itself. The following guide will explain how to start and run the tattoo shop of your dreams.

Read on and take your tattoo career to the next level by opening your own tattoo parlor the right way.

Understanding the Industry

Before anything else, get familiar with the tattoo business and seek out professional training. It’s not totally necessary to become a tattoo artist before opening a shop, but it helps to understand every part of the industry.

If you’re currently an amateur tattoo artist, finish an apprenticeship so that you get the right training. You can find out more at if you’re interested in furthering your tattoo knowledge.

It’s also a good idea for shop owners that don’t practice tattooing to partner with a tattooist. They can help offer insight into the business and what customers tend to want from shops and artists.

Study Local Regulations

Get in touch with your county, city, state, or health department to learn about any regulations affecting tattoo shops in your area. Note that laws concerning tattoo shops and sanitation tend to change from state to state.

It’s also true that some tattooing laws and regulations apply to every location. You can find a complete list of rules and regulations for your state by using online directories for tattooists.

You can also contact local government divisions to get a list of relevant agencies. Through these agencies, you can gather more information about permit and licensing applications.

Naming Your Shop

Once you get some of the basics out of the way, you can start coming up with names for your tattoo shop. The name you choose should echo the shop’s style and identity. It’s part of what makes your tattoo shop stand out from others. 

Also, make sure that the name you want isn’t already in use in your state. You don’t want your tattoo business to infringe on any trademarks or you’ll have a major setback before you even get going.

Luckily, there are several free online tools you can use to find out the availability of tattoo shop names. Once you settle on a name that isn’t already taken, you must register it via your state government.

Defining Your Business Structure

The business structure of your tattoo shop affects the taxes for your business. It also affects what you need to file each year and how much personal liability you have in case something goes wrong with a customer or staff member.

Limited liability companies, C corporations, and S corporations make up the 3 most common structures for tattoo businesses. Each business structure has its own pros and cons depending on your preferences.

It helps to work with a lawyer or accountant to go over the advantages and disadvantages of each structure before making a decision.

Choosing a Tattoo Shop Location

Sometimes the difference between the success or failure of a tattoo shop hinges on its location. It’s important that your shop has good visibility, accessibility, and regular foot traffic.

Although, prime locations for your shop might not always fit your budget. If nothing else, make sure the location has plenty of space for your equipment, and know that you can always scale up and move later on.

You may need to budget for remodeling the space for your shop as well. Not only for aesthetics but to make the setup works for tattooing. You might also have to change a few things in order to comply with different safety and health codes.

Examples of renovations include adding partitions, plumbing, sinks, and electrical outlets. Keep in mind that you’ll need to get permission from the property owner before starting renovations if you rent instead of own.

Permits and Licenses

You’ll need to have all your permits and licenses in order before you open the doors to legally run your tattoo shop. Examples include permits for sales tax, health, and zoning along with a business license.

You’ll also need a tattoo artist license for yourself and your staff before serving customers. The licensing process involves receiving board approval, passing a written NIC Theory test, and different State Law examinations.

Equipment and Supplies

When it comes to equipment and supplies, it’s important to go for as much quality as your budget allows. Doing so protects the safety of your clients and also gives them a reason to come back again.

Essential gear includes things like tattoo machines, ink, needles, gloves, and equipment for sterilizations. You also need to budget for furniture, lighting, signage, and other decor that fits your brand.

You should also invest in a trustworthy system for inventory. It will help you to keep track of your stock and reorder supplies when needed so that you can always accommodate customers.

Hiring Employees

Most tattoo owners don’t intend to run their shop alone and hire staff. Employees help out with different tasks like reception, booking appointments, cleaning, and tattooing clients.

It’s best to look for people who have experience tattooing or working in shops beforehand. They should also have the right certifications and a professional portfolio put together so that you can determine if they match your shop’s style. 

Before hiring anyone, develop your shop policies, procedures, and expectations so that you can train employees accordingly. 

Marketing Your Shop

If you want your new tattoo shop to survive, you’ll need to start attracting clients right away. Start by making a website that’s mobile-friendly and includes relevant contact information and business hours.

Next set up profiles on popular platforms like Yelp and Google My Business so that people can discover your shop. It’s also important to have a presence on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook where you can show off your shop’s tattoos. 

You can also use social media platforms to run sales and special events happening at the shop. It’s even a good way to keep former tattoo clients engaged and help turn them into repeat customers.

Opening the Tattoo Shop of Your Dreams

Remember this guide and follow each step to help open the tattoo shop of your dreams! Remember to cover the basics, but also stay creative with your branding to separate yourself from other shops.

Take a look at the rest of our blog for more small business ideas and tips to make them successful.

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