How to Start a Tattoo Shop at Home


Now more than ever, having a Tattoo is increasingly accepted by mainstream American culture and fashion. With this trend, more and more people are looking at how to start a tattoo shop at home.

Take a look at Tattoo trends vs. Perfume, Cosmetics, and Fashion over the past  year. (Trends provided by Google Trends)

Other than a few spikes in cosmetics, Tattoos outperform 3 of what would be thought of as being the highest trends in the beautification of people.

There is no wonder that the demand for talented Tattoo Artists is greater than ever in America and around the world.

If you have the talent, it would be nice to start your Tattoo shop from home where you can make $100 hour or more.

Offering the service from home would provide you with some advantages but will also include some disadvantages or roadblocks.

Let us start with what you will need to do before you start your Tattoo Shop at Home

Tattoo Artist Talent and training. If you do not already have the training to perform Tattoos then it is recommended that you complete an apprenticeship so that you receive the proper training. You can still start a Tattoo shop without the training and talent by hiring a Tattoo artist. It would be difficult to start a home-based business by hiring an artist and may be better suited for a Tattoo shop in the retail or commercial building.

Contact your local health unit or county health department to understand the health regulations and required certifications to start a Tattoo Shop. The rules vary from one area to another so do not assume you know what is required. Once you have your shop setup you will require an inspection and approval before you can start tattooing.

Check with your municipality about zoning restrictions and requirements about starting a tattoo shop in your area. Attempting to start a shop in your home will have several challenges to overcome. In many areas, there may not be any option for allowing a tattoo shop in your home. Then you will have no choice but to try and find a place to open a shop that meets the zoning requirements.

The truth is…the idea of having a tattoo parlor at home may not be an option in many North American areas.

Regulations in America generally state that it is illegal for a licensed tattoo artist to do their work in an unlicensed location and it is also illegal for an unlicensed tattoo artist to work in a licensed tattoo business.

That said you may be fortunate enough to live in a home that is located in an area with the proper zoning for a tattoo business or have an apartment or home that has a storefront type business zoning below your apartment…which would be just like having a tattoo shop at home.

There are always examples of extreme cases where people do not follow the rules and make it harder for those who do want to follow the rules being able to open their tattoo shop at home.

Check out this recent article showing you just how badly some people will run a tattoo business from home and will still have the option to reopen if they fix the noted concerns.

-Create a Business Plan. Creating a plan will provide you with goals to meet at dedicated times. There is nothing worse than jumping in a business with 2 feet first not knowing where you want to end up. A business plan on how you will start and manage you Tattoo Shop will allow you to check in on your progress as your business grows. A business plan is also an important tool if you need to secure some financial assistance to start up or manage your business.

Here is a free sample template provided by BDC –  Example Business Plan

Training and Paperwork all complete?

If “yes” then continue, otherwise read and follow the steps above

How to get customers to come to your…uhmm basement to get a Tattoo.

To most Tattoo customers, the idea to go to someone’s private home, in most cases in a basement Tattoo shop is not exactly an easy sell.

Going to a private home for a haircut is not so bad. Getting a bad haircut is something that we can live with for a few weeks.

The idea of getting a botched Tattoo is another story.

It will be even more important to show that you are an artist with talent and follow safe techniques. It is one thing getting a botched Tattoo job, but to get an infection or disease would be the worse.

Marketing your Tattoo Shop

Inspection Certificate – If you followed the earlier directions you would have received a “Pass” or permit from your health department to run your Tattoo shop. You would be instructed to post that permit to be visible, but it is recommended that it be emphasized for your customers to see it as a sign to comfort their concerns. It will show them that you take the necessary steps to ensure optimum infection precautions.

-Business Permits- Along with the health inspection certificates, it is wise to place your business permits in a place that you can emphasize to your customers that you are running a legitimate Tattoo shop. They will have an increased comfort knowing that you are not trying to hide anything and that you are registered the same as any Tattoo shops found in any strip mall.

-Customer Service- If possible, create have a reception area for your customers. Create a scheduling system where you do not have people waiting too long for their turn. An advantage of having your own Tattoo shop is the flexibility you have with scheduling -take advantage to have breaks between customers.

-Online Presence- Create a website that not only showcases your Tattoo work but also have it setup for customers to interact, comment and provide feedback on your Tattoo shop and works. You can set up a scheduling system on your website where people can choose dates and times that you are available for a consult. This will free you from having to take a number of calls for booking and schedule while you are doing Tattoos.

You can create a website on hosting sites like Wix. …Not my choice or recommendation.

When you can host websites and learn everything there is to know about online business by visiting and trying out Wealthy Affiliate. I chose Wealthy Affiliate as my hosting site for this website you are on now and for 3 other websites that I manage.

Time to open your Tattoo Shop!!!

List of what you will need to open your shop.

Tattoo artist equipment. If you have the training and practice then you likely already have your Tattoo Machine Gun and related tools. If you need more you can get terrific prices at Amazon as shown below.

Tattoo Machine:

Shader Tattoo MachineShaders are used to paint ink and pigments onto the skin. Shaders are set up with more needles and in a straight line. Shader guns run slower but require more power having to move more needles. A higher coil count is suggested for shader machines which will increase the weight of the Tattoo gun.

Liner Tattoo MachineLiners are used to outline of the image on the skin. Liner guns generally run fast and require less power as they use lesser needles, 1 to 7 placed in a circular configuration. A lower coil count makes these guns lighter than a shader gun.

Tattoo Machine Needles:

Tattoo machine needles come in various configurations for Liner or Shader Tattoo guns. They come in sterile individually packaged disposable or as stainless steel reusable. Always check with your local health unit or department about the type of needles or tips to be used. In most cases, sterile disposable needles are recommended for Tattoo shop owners.

Tattoo Machine Grips:

Tattoo machine grips help the Tattoo artist avoid getting hand cramps. Generally, larger grips are used by those with larger hands and smaller grips for people with small hands.

Tattoo Ink:

All the other tools would be useless if you didn’t get ink. Many brands and colors exist and of course, you have the endless variations when you mix and shade your colors. It is also recommended to get ink cup caps and a cup cap holder to place your ink in so you can dip your Tattoo needles.

Tattoo Stencil Transfer:

Unless you are a truly gifted Tattoo artist most will transfer a stenciled image of what they will Tattoo onto the skin first. They will draw or print an image onto a transfer paper then that specialty paper can transfer the image onto the skin.

Bacitracin Zinc Wipes:

To avoid infections after a Tattoo job it is recommended to use a Bacitracin Zinc wipes to disinfect the skin post-tattoo. I’ll repeat the importance to get the appropriate training and information from your local health department in regards to pre and post-tattoo care.

Green Cleaning Soap:

Green Cleaning soap can be used for pre-tattoo skin preparation, stencil application, cleaning post-tattoo. It can also be used for cleaning surgical or tattoo instruments before sterilization.

Ultrasonic Cleaner:

To disinfect equipment between clients you will need to disinfect your equipment. Again, your healthy unit or department will provide you with the recommended information for ensuring proper sterile techniques are followed in your shop.

Seating, tables, and lighting:

Both the customer and artist must be comfortable while the Tattoo is being applied. The customer may be seated for hours and the artist may need to place themselves in awkward positions to get the job done. It is important to have comfortable chairs and support with excellent lighting. If budget allows, a recliner chair resembling a dentist chair would allow the customer to be placed in a comfortable position no matter where the Tattoo is being applied. It will also allow the customer to be elevated to a comfortable height for the artist. Room lighting should be set up to ensure the least amount of shadowing occurs and adjustable pinpoint lighting can also be used to highlight the work area.

Surface protection and cleaning solutions:

You will want to protect the surface your client is placed on, whether it is an armrest or reclining chair. It is recommended to have a disposable and non-permeable surface protection. You will likely be instructed by your health unit/department to clean all surfaces where your client may have contact. Check with your local health department for specific instructions.

Some of the best prices for the above listed and related equipment can be found at Amazon

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of contacting and following the instructions from your local health unit or department along with getting the required business and zoning permits for your Tattoo shop.

I hope the above list encourages you to follow your dreams and your artistic creativity. I have heard of some local Tattoo artists that charge in the order of $100 / hour. I would love to become a Tattoo artist but unfortunately, I do not have the artistic abilities to be a Tattoo artist.

So I will stick with my current online business as blogger and affiliate marketer. You can read more on  how to become a blogger /affiliate marketer here==> How to become a blogger from scratch

Have any comments or questions? Place them below I would love to hear from you.

About the Author Paul

My online journey started in 2008 when I was tired of working for somebody else. I searched the internet for years trying to find out how to make a living from home with an online business. In 2015 I finally found the information and support from a website just like this one

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