How to Start a Tattoo Shop Business in UK USA (Business Plan)

tattoo shop business

Do you have these questions in your mind?

  • Cost to set up a tattoo shop?
  • How do I set up a tattoo shop?
  • How to start a profitable Tattoo Studio?
  • Can I run a tattoo shop from home?
  • What licenses are needed for a tattoo shop?


In this article, you will find answers to all your questions. So grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is a Tattoo Shop Business?

A Tattoo Shop Business is a place where tattooing is done professionally. However, it is more than just inking but more of an art-based skill upon which you can build a business.

A tattoo artist is a professional artist who creates and applies tattoos based on the client’s request. Many studios have hundreds of images the client can choose from.

To get inspiration you can look into these tattoo artists:

  • Chris Green
  • Jonathan ‘JonBoy’ Valena
  • Josh Young
  • Katherine Von Drachenberg
  • Matt Daniels
  • Brian Woo aka Dr. Woo

Market Insight: The tattoo industry is estimated to be more than $3 billion and is getting more popular daily.

tattoo shop business

Is the Tattoo Business right for me?

Here are some facts to consider when deciding if this business is for you:

The Pros: 
  • Customer satisfaction regularly. 
  • Great community. 
  • Be your boss!
  • Low start-up costs.
  • No specific qualifications are needed. 
  • The power to accept or decline any potential customers.
  • Easy exposure through social media.
  • Unlimited income potential.
 The Cons:
  • Possible income inconsistency.
  • Physical strain on fingers, hands, wrists, neck, and back.
  • A competitive industry.
  • Perfectionism. 
  • Risky. 

An everyday overview of work for a tattoo artist:

- Cleaning up your studio

- Equipment management

- Rough Sketches (Practice Sketches)

- Client Meetings

- Training apprentices

- Social Media (Promoting the shop)

- Tattooing!!

tattoo shop business

How much investment do you need to start a Tattoo Business?

Startup costs for a Tattoo Shop depend upon various factors:

  • Type of studio you aspire to accommodate (depends on location)
  • Variety of services you plan to offer
  • The staff you plan to hire/ team size
  • Type and size of clients
  • Advertising tools and channels
  • Various types of equipment needed
To give you a benchmark, the estimated cost of your business would range from $5,000 to $50,000, depending upon the location and the amount of staff you are willing to hire.

Here are some of the equipment you’ll need and their approximate costs (per item):

1. Tattoo gun $500 - $1000

2. Inks $100

3. Tables / Chairs $1000

4. Autoclaves $100

5. Needless $10 (set)

6. Mirrors $200

7. Sanitizer $50

8. Disposable Razors $20 (set)

9. Disposable latex gloves $15 (set)

10. Business permit ($200 - $400)

11. Insurance policy ($55 - $100 / month)

12. Furniture for the waiting area $500

13. Tattoo Software, Computers, POS $1000

tattoo shop business

How much does a Tattoo shop business make?

In the United States, an average tattoo shop makes around $60K – $300K, with an average profit margin of 20 to 55%. 

While in United Kingdom, an average tattoo shop makes around $30K – $250K, with an average profit margin of 25% to 50%. 

Remember, as a startup, your goal should be to keep your costs low and depend on your skills.

Starting small is no shame because you can gradually learn and grow.

tattoo shop business

Trends and Challenges in Tattoo Shop Business

Trends in the Tattoo industry include:

  • Millennials are the most likely age group to get tattoos. 
  • The trends lean towards a more nostalgic and abstract form in the tattoo industry. 

Challenges in the Tattoo industry include:

  • Mistakes or injuries have been the biggest worries leading to significant problems of lawsuits.
  • Negative press from allegations of racism and sexual abuse has been the recent worries in the industry. 

Some of the niches that a tattoo shop might decide to major in to stand out include:

- Predesigned tattoos

- Custom-designed tattoos

- Tattoo removals

- Piercings

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tattoo shop business

Common 6 mistakes to avoid by a tattoo artist

1. Getting the Initials wrong
We all have seen those horrendous tattoos where the mistake of a single letter in the word changes the whole meaning of the tattoo!

In such a case, rechecking the initials of the word is usually advised. Of course, it’s always better to ask the recipient about the accuracy of the word, or you can look it up on the internet.

2. Own up to your mistakes!
A single mistake in a tattoo can ruin the business and cause a lot of embarrassment in the recipient’s life. When this becomes the case, either refund your customer or offer to cover up their tattoo with any other choice they had in mind.

3. Ask to know about pre-existing medical conditions
Failing to inquire about a pre-existing medical condition can result in complications that could cripple you or your business.

If the equipment used during the procedure is not sanitized correctly, you could pass infections to your innocent clients. And if someone is HIV+ or has any other transferable diseases, that’s also unsafe for you.

4. Use the right domain name!
Having the right domain name reflects your business and gives you a competitive edge regarding search engine optimization. Finding a name resonating with your business can be crucial to the company’s growth.

5. Market on social media!
If you habitually populate your pages with your daily gigs and designs, a pool of fans and potential clients will flood out to your studio!

You can leverage ads on the social media platform to showcase some of your best work to people within your country or city.

6. Always uphold professional standards
When you launch the business, ensure you take all the necessary procedures and equipment with you.

Your level of professionalism and thoroughness can make customers trust you and recommend you to others as well.

Market Insight: The tattoo removal market is growing by 18% yearly.

tattoo shop business

Hygiene Standards required in the Tattoo Shop Business

In a Tattoo Shop Business, preventive measures and cleanliness should be of utmost priority to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Some steps that you can follow are:

  • Using disposable gloves during the tattoo session.
  • Protect the tabletop with a protective sheet made of paper and plastic.
  • Covering the front of the electric transformer with disposable plastic wrap.
  • Use dropper bottles rather than spray bottles.
  • Only using disposable ink caps, razors, and plastic cups.
  • Cover Tattoo machines with a well-suited plastic bag.
  • Chair where the customer sits should also be adequately covered.
  • Never touching the newly tattooed skin without gloves

TIP: For new studios, make hygiene a top priority. At the same time, many will only notice the regular cleaning and sanitization of the equipment you do every day; some will, which gives you a chance of getting more recommendations than others.

tattoo shop business

Legal Requirements for your Tattoo business

Some of the legal requirements for your tattoo studio are:

  • Register with your local Environmental Health Department, which regularly inspects your studio to maintain your registration.
  • If you copy other artists’ work, you could infringe on copyright laws. 

Also you should Comply with the following:

  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. 
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992); protects you and your employees from sustaining an injury or illness. 
  • Complying with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998) ensures that the equipment is maintained, and inspected regularly. 
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (2013) states you must report all injuries, diseases, and dangerous events. 
  • Tattooing of Minors Act (1969), prohibits tattooing in people below 18 years of age. 
  • General Data Protection Regulations and the Data Protection Act 
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tattoo shop business

How do I get more tattoo clients?

The idea of business is abstract without customers, the real deal is to bring clients. …. Right?

So, here are some pointers to help you get your first client.

  • Use your social circle 
  • Reach out to local small businesses – cold call & email
  • Run Google, Facebook & Instagram Ads
  • Network in Linkedin
  • Organic SEO and Blogging
  • Quora Answers, Reddit Network 


The lessons learned from your first customer are going to be valuable and will help you tremendously throughout your journey.

tattoo shop business

Tattoo Permits and License in UK & USA

In the UK,
It is illegal for a Tattoo Shop Business to tattoo who are not licensed by their local council. Contact your local council and who will help you get in touch with the organizations necessary.

In the US,
They expect you to have some experience before allowing a license. Before setting up your business, you should do an apprenticeship of at least three years in The Alliance of Professional Tattooists and work under the direct supervision of a licensed tattoo artist and learn operating machines.

tattoo shop business

Tattoo Shop Business Insurance 

Your Tattoo Shop Business needs insurance to operate safely. It will protect your company’s financial well-being by covering the losses.

Business insurance for your tattoo studio in the US:

  • General liability insurance
  • Tattoo Artist Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Body Piercer Liability Insurance

Business insurance for your tattoo studio in the UK:

  • Professional Liability Insurance
  • Employers’ Liability Insurance
  • Design and Copyright Infringement
  • Contents Coverage
  • Treatment Risk Insurance
  • Income Protection Insurance


Starting your tattoo studio can be a very profitable and fun business.


People choose to get tattoos as a form of self-expression or a way to commemorate a significant event or person, creating better opportunities for profit in the tattoo business.


Gain some experience in the field and when you think you’re finally ready, go for it!


Happy Tattooing!!!

Want to Save Time in your Business Launch?

  • How to Create a Business Plan
  • What is Market Research, USP, Niche & Positioning
  • How to find a suitable name for your business
  • How to create your brand image (Logo + Branding)
  • How to Register Your Business
  • How to Register for Taxes
  • How to get Licenses / Permits
  • How to Open a Business Bank Account
  • How to Get Business Insurance
  • Which Payment Processing Terminal (POS) to buy
  • How to get Funds for your Business
  • How to do Sales & Marketing – Offline & Online
  • Why have a Website / Blog / Social Media
  • How to build & train your Dream Team
  • How to provide Excellent Customer Service
  • Buying an Old Business Vs Franchisee Vs Own Brand from Scratch

Handpicked inspirational Youtube videos for you

I’m a Tattoo Artist | My Life – YT Channel ‘Glam, Inc’

Inside Tattoo Artist Dr. Woo’s Secret NYC Tattoo Shop | Behind The Craft – YT Channel ‘GQ’

Brooklyn’s King of Tattoos : Mike Perfetto | Tattoo Age – YT Channel ‘Vice’

A. In the United States, an average tattoo shop makes around $60K – $300K, with an average profit margin of 20 to 55%. 

While in United Kingdom, an average tattoo shop makes around $30K – $250K, with an average profit margin of 25% to 50%. 

A. You need an estimated amount of around $50K to start a tattoo shop. Most of the startup cost will be used to buy tattoo equipment and studio infrastructure / furniture. 

A. You don’t need any specific qualifications to open your tattoo studio business but you may need a good understanding of how business works and what you have to do to make it profitable.  

A. In the US, to obtain a Tattoo License you must successfully complete a three hour Infection Control Course conducted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Health Academy. 

In most states, you can contact your local council for the license to tattoo or other body art procedures. You also need to register both yourself and your business premises. 

A. It is illegal to perform tattoos in unlicensed locations for a licensed tattoo artist. You also cannot allow an unlicensed person to give a tattoo on your premises as a professional and licensed tattoo artist.

A. Yes, a tattoo artist can be sued for copyright. The artist can sue for infringement only if they register the creation or tattoo art with the United States Copyright Office. 

A. Top 5 Tattoo Locations USA:

1. New York City

2. Los Angeles

3. San Francisco

4. Las Vegas

5. Miami

A. Top 5 Tattoo Locations UK:

1. London

2. Manchester

3. Glasgow

4. Birmingham

5. Bristol

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