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How to Open a Tattoo Shop : A Step-by-Step Guide

February 27, 2024

9 Min Read

how to open a tattoo shop business
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If you love art and want to turn it into a career, a tattoo shop is an opportunity that matches you perfectly. So, have you ever dreamed of turning your passion for art into a career? You are in the right place. Now, starting a tattoo shop will be a great way to express your creativity in a profitable business.

The goal of a successful tattoo parlor, whether it’s a local destination or a renowned establishment that attracts clients across the country, starts with a solid foundation

So, let’s explore the different aspects of starting a tattoo shop, to make sure your business continues to grow and stand out in the competitive world of the tattoo community.

Why is the tattoo industry booming?

Before we go into the details of how to start a tattoo shop, let’s first look at why it’s a good idea to do so.

The tattoo industry is booming. According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, the global tattoo market is projected to grow from $2.04 billion in 2023 to $3.93 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 9.87% during the forecast period. This growth can be seen by factors such as:

  • The increasing popularity and acceptance of tattoos among different age groups, cultures, and professions
  • The rising demand for customized and personalized tattoos that reflect one’s identity, personality, and preferences
  • The availability of a wide range of tattoo styles, designs, and colors to suit different tastes and needs

Have you ever wondered how the journey into professional tattooing begins? Let’s take a page from the life of Eden Kozokaro, known as Kozo,  his adventure into the tattoo industry is a great example of following one’s passion and turning it into a successful career.

Kozo’s story, shared in an interview with Cool Hunting Studio, age is but a number when it comes to pursuing your dreams.

This story is a key lesson for anyone dreaming of a career in the tattoo industry, success isn’t bound by age but packed by passion and hard work. It’s a strong message to young artists everywhere, affirming that dedication to their art form can pave the way to a fulfilling and successful career, regardless of when they begin.

1. Learn and master tattooing

Becoming a great tattoo artist requires more than just technical skills. It also requires artistic vision and dedication to your craft. You need to learn and practice the methods, styles, and safety measures that are important for the tattoo industry.

But tattooing is not only about using a tattoo machine accurately. Your clients will appreciate tattoos that reflect their personal stories and values. To be a successful tattoo artist, you have to keep updating your skills and knowledge with the latest trends in the tattoo industry.

2. Prepare a tattoo parlor business plan

To start and run a tattoo parlor that excites you, requires a detailed and comprehensive business plan.

A tattoo shop business plan is a road map of how you will meet the challenges of your business. The plan will outline your objectives for the store, market research, financial projections, and deployment options.

Good business planning helps in making smart decisions and also attracts potential funding from investors and lenders.

Remember that the right business model is crucial to making your dreams come true.

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3. Get financing in order

To start and run your tattoo business successfully, you need to secure enough funding. Estimate how much money you will need for rent, equipment buying, and licensing fees for your business location.

Here’s a simplified breakdown of the estimated startup and operational costs for a tattoo shop.

Estimated Expenses:

Startup Costs Estimated Cost
Rent for Business Location $1,000 – $4,000 (per month)
Equipment Purchases $5,000 – $15,000 (initial)
Licensing Fees $500 – $2,000 (annually)
Insurance $2,000 – $5,000 (annually)
Marketing & Advertising $1,000 – $5,000 (initial)
Utility Bills (Electric, Water, etc.) $200 – $600 (per month)
Miscellaneous Supplies (Ink, Needles, etc.) $500 – $1,000 (per month)

Your costs may vary depending on the size or location of your business you choose. It is important to remember that some expenses recur monthly or annually, while others are one-time investments.

Like most businesses, starting a tattoo business requires a significant initial investment.

You can check income sources, e.g.

  • Business loans
  • Crowdfunding
  • Angel investors
  • Small business grants
  • Personal savings

A solid foundation of your financial needs and a clear plan for managing these funds are important in ensuring the financial health and sustainability of your tattoo shop.

4. Register your tattoo shop

To make your tattoo business a legal entity, you need to select a business form, such as an LLC, and register it.

By doing this step, you secure your assets and enhance your business’s credibility. It is also important to register with the IRS( Internal Revenue Service) and obtain a business license to operate legally and gain your client’s trust.

5. Find a space for your tattoo shop

A good business location is essential for tattoo studios. Choose a place that is easy to see and reach, and make sure it is inviting to potential clients. Areas with a lot of people passing by can greatly improve your shop’s visibility and draw in the people around.

Your location must comply with all regulatory requirements, otherwise, you avoid being granted the license to operate your tattoo business.

Finding a balance between an area crowded enough to sustain your business without being overfilled with competition is key. Consider these factors carefully:

  • Traffic Patterns: Look for spaces that are easily reachable, have a good amount of foot traffic, and are in a popular area.
  • Demographics: Target areas frequented by your potential customers.
  • Competition: Assess the number of existing tattoo shops in the area to avoid overcrowded markets.

You need to understand these elements to estimate how many customers will visit your shop and how profitable it will be.

6. Obtain necessary permits & licenses

To operate your tattoo studio within the limits of the law, it is important to adhere to the legal framework established by your local and state jurisdictions

This requires the necessary documentation and approvals, including a Department of Health permit. These measures are to ensure that your facility maintains a clean and safe environment for your clients and tattoo artists.

Having this compliance not only ensures the legality of your operation but also establishes your business as a reputable and trustworthy company.

The basic documents and approvals you need are:

  • Business Permit: This document allows you to work in a specific location.
  • Department of Health Approval: This approval by the local health authority confirms that your studio meets the hygiene and safety standards required for tattoos.
  • Tattoo Artist License: This is required for anyone practicing tattooing within your business.

It is important that the list above is not exhaustive. Laws can vary greatly depending on your location, so it’s best to consult with local government officials and legal experts to fully understand the relevant requirements for your business and location

7. Get a business insurance

To keep your tattoo shop safe and secure, you need to have the right kind of business insurance. This will cover you, your staff, and your customers in case any problems occur.

You should get insurance that protects you from lawsuits, damages, and injuries. Insurance helps you deal with unexpected situations and plan for the future of your tattoo business.

Some of the common insurance categories to choose from:

  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Commercial Property Insurance
  • General Liability Insurance
  • Business Owner’s Policy

Different types of insurance may apply according to the business depending on the tattoo industry. Insurance is important because it protects you from financial losses and risks that may arise due to unforeseen events.

8. Get tattooing equipment & tools

Having completed the legal prerequisites for opening your tattoo parlor, the next step is to acquire the necessary equipment and tools for your tattooing services. It’s essential to select high-quality and reliable products to ensure the satisfaction and safety of your clients.

Good tools also help your artists do their best, making your shop known for its quality.

Your inventory should include essential items such as disinfectants, dyes, gloves, needles, pigments, sketching paper, and tattoo machines with ink and needles that are important for detailed work.

You should also consider the operational and comfort needs of your shop. This includes a computer with design software to create and modify tattoo designs, and your workspaces with lighting, furniture, and storage for tools and materials.

Don’t forget to provide your clients with oral and written aftercare instructions, and ensure your shop is outfitted with mirrors and informational materials like tattoo magazines for inspiration.

9. Outline marketing strategies

You need a good marketing plan to get more customers for your tattoo shop. Use social media to show off your artist’s work and talk to other tattoo lovers.

Some ways to market your shop are by working with other businesses, joining local events, and offering deals to get people’s attention.

By doing market research, you can make a marketing plan that helps your shop get more popular and keep your customers happy.


If you love tattoo art and want to open your shop, you need to prepare yourself for the business aspects, the legal aspects, and the customer aspects of opening a tattoo shop.

You need to have a clear business plan that acts as a legal business entity, a business license, business insurance, and health and safety compliance. You can use AI business planning software to help you create a comprehensive and realistic tattoo shop business plan You can also check out some business plan examples for inspiration.

You also need to hire professionally trained tattoo artists, find a good location, and invest in a business bank account, a business credit card, and a business name. You should also create a website and social media platforms to market your shop and display your work.

By focusing on these foundational elements, you position your tattoo business for success, ready to set the path in the competitive and ever-evolving tattoo studio.

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About the Author


Upmetrics Team

Upmetrics is the #1 business planning software that helps entrepreneurs and business owners create investment-ready business plans using AI. We regularly share business planning insights on our blog. Check out the Upmetrics blog for such interesting reads. Read more


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