How to Start a Tattoo Shop


Familiarize yourself with the business and acquire proper training. You don’t necessarily have to be a tattoo artist to own a tattoo shop. However, you should have a solid understanding of all aspects of the business. If you are a novice tattooist, complete an apprenticeship to ensure that you are properly trained and always buy top quality tattoo supplies from suppliers like

As a non-practicing shop owner, complete a significant amount of comprehensive research regarding the profession or partner up with an experienced tattooist.

Research Local Regulations

Contact your local health, city, state or county department to find out about tattoo business regulations in your area. The laws regarding tattooing and sanitation vary considerably across the country, but no matter where you live certain rules, regulations and limitations will exist. The AAA Tattoo Directory offers a complete list of states and their tattooing regulations and prohibitions. Your local governing divisions can also direct you to the proper agencies to obtain more information about applying for any required permits and licenses.

Begin a Business Plan

Create a business plan and explore tattoo business software. Every start-up needs a comprehensive business plan, and tattoo studios are no exception. Your business plan is an essential tool in outlining exactly how much capital is needed to start your tattoo shop, as well as calculating future projections and profit. Many software programs are available to help you create a business plan or you can acquire the assistance of an accountant.

You can also obtain tattoo business-specific software to help track profits, loss, clients, artists, inventory, payroll and all other aspects of the shop.

Find a Location

Settle on a location with high traffic within the perimeters of where your permits are valid. Depending on the type of building you choose, you may have to make some improvements or alterations to accommodate your artists and properly equip the facilities. This may mean adding partitions, sinks, plumbing or electrical outlets. If you are renting space, acquire written permission from the property owner prior to any rehabilitation, and all state required permits.

Work on a Marketing Campaign

Develop an advertising campaign to market your tattoo shop. To ensure a steady flow of clients, you must have a strategic marketing plan already in action prior to the grand opening of the shop. This might include distributing fliers, social media and network marketing, TV and radio ads, or old-fashioned word of mouth. Plan to start your marketing campaign at least 30 to 60 days prior to opening the tattoo shop, or even as soon as you have set the opening date.

Furnish Your Space

Furnish and decorate your work, reception and office areas. Buy and install all necessary furnishings to accommodate your artists and clients. Work areas will include several reclining chairs – similar to dentist’s chairs – tables, lighted tracing tables, supply carts and large sized mirrors.

The reception areas need a counter or desk, chairs, couches shelves to display “Flash” – basic art designs – and display cases if you are offering body jewelry. The office area generally requires a desk, chair and file cabinets.

Purchase Equipment and Supplies

Before opening the shop, make sure you are well stocked with all the supplies, materials and equipment needed to properly and efficiently function. Tattooing equipment and supplies typically include an autoclave for sanitizing instruments, tattooing machines, needles, ink paper towels, plastic spray bottles and plastic or latex gloves. Office equipment might include a computer, adding machine, telephones and printers.

Hire Qualified Staff

Hire professional tattooists to sufficiently staff your studio. Depending on how big your shop is and how much clientele you expect to generate, you’ll probably need at least one or two professionally trained tattooists. Before your grand opening, evaluate your potential amount of clients and be prepared by hiring a sufficient amount of professionally trained tattoo artists.