First, you’ll need a workspace and the best tattoo supplies. Some artists cut down on costs by working out of their home. If you’re thinking about taking this route, consider two things: many states prohibit home studios due to health regulations, and it’s more difficult to establish yourself as a professional without a storefront.

When choosing a location, research the areas you are considering. Are they already saturated with tattoo shops? What’s their reputation and what other services do they offer? Pick a location that has a good deal of foot traffic. You never know who will walk through you door and inquire about a that custom piece they’ve been considering.

Even if you don’t plan on regularly hosting other artists, set your space up with multiple rooms. You never know what direction you could decide to go later and many tattoo artists travel, taking on guest spots as they move about the world.

Here are a few other items you’ll need to invest in before opening your tattoo shop. Many of these items can be purchased used at a reduced rate.

What are the ongoing expenses for a tattoo parlor?

Aside from the standard overhead expenses incurred from running a storefront, your only ongoing expenses are marketing and supplies. You’ll go through a lot of gloves, ink, and cleaning supplies on a daily basis. When first starting out, artists report spending an estimated $600-$1,000 per year on supplies.

Who 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.

How much can you charge customers?

Customers are typically charged an hourly rate, although some projects are inked for a flat fee. Hourly rates range anywhere from $80-$350. The longer you’ve been in business and the more of a name you make for yourself, the more you can charge.

How much profit can a tattoo parlor make?

Successful tattoo artists have reported making less than $15,000 their first year. However, as you make a name for yourself and your shop, the potential is there to make well over $100,000 annually.

What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Tattoo Parlor Name Generator

If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.