Tattooing - it’s one of the oldest art forms known to man… no really! For thousands of years countless civilizations have decorated their skin in an attempt to make a bold statement about something they felt was intrinsic to their existence. Of course for the most part, modern day tattooing is a far cry from the tribal branding and declarations of allegiance from yesteryear, but the influence of this rich heritage is in evidence across the world. This is particularly the case for us in the UK as many historians claim that the very Island of Great Britain takes its name from the word Britons which literally translates as "people of the designs”- a comment upon the tendency of the ancient inhabitants of Northern Britain to decorate their skin with tattoo like markings. Right that’s the history lesson over!
For tattoo artists, business has never been better. What was once the reserve of sailors, bikers and those with a generally flippant attitude towards life has flooded its way into the mainstream with ? of Adults in the UK having at least one tattoo. This relentless increase in popularity continues to this day and keeps the demand for up-and-coming tattoo artists very high. Fantastic news for the arty, creative type with a desire to run their own business, but of course there are a number of things which need to be given careful consideration before you begin. So we have ‘inked’ this quick guide on some of the things that you need to be thinking about in order to get your business underway.
Becoming a Tattoo Artist
Tattooing is a highly regulated industry and to practice as a professional you will need to fulfill a number of essential criteria laid down by the government. There is only one route which can be taken in order to become a qualified tattoo artist - you will need to gain an apprenticeship with an existing licensed parlour and train under the other artists there. A tattoo artist apprenticeship lasts for around 2 ½ years full time and will (most likely) be unpaid. Further to this you may also be required to provide your own equipment. Once enough work experience has been gained and you are proficient at tattooing unsupervised, a licence to practise must be obtained from the local council.
Even though the popularity of tattoos continues to grow, this doesn’t mean that you should jump in willy-nilly and start a shop in any old place, it will need careful consideration. By carrying out comprehensive market research at this stage you will give your business the best possible start in life. Some of the things we reckon you should consider at this stage are;
On a very basic level, you need to gauge the vibe of the area that you are considering as a location. The fact of the matter is that people aged 18-30 are those most likely to get a tattoo and therefore you need to think about the demographics of the area. Are there any particular institutions such as universities which might provide a higher concentration of this age group? Likewise, are there any reasons why this particular area may have a lower than average proportion of this demographic? You will be able to access the populatipn statistics of your area by visiting of the website of The Office of National Statistics and following the links to the 2011 census data.
Find out who your main competitors will be. Remember that tattoo parlours have a large catchment area as people are willing to travel a significant distance in order to access their services, so it is wise to expand your research beyond the immediate vicinity of your prospective location.
Consider a few questions like: What prices do these competitors charge? Are they known for any particular style of body art? What is their reputation amongst the local community?(The internet can be a great source of information, but be careful not to base your research solely on what you find there.) If there are no tattoo parlours already located in your area is there a reason for this? Do you know if there have been any tattoo parlours in the past which have failed (of course this doesn't mean that your business will fail but it might be worth looking into why they were unsuccessful to avoid making similar mistakes).
Some specifics about tattoo studios
Due to the nature of the work carried out in a tattoo parlour (the use of needles and presence of significant amounts of blood) it’s no surprise that the government has put in place very strict minimum standards for any premises in which tattooing is carried out.
Planning Permission- If you are opening a new business (rather than taking over an existing one) there is a good chance that you will need to apply for planning permission from your local council, in some cases even if you are planning to operate the business from your home. The rules vary slightly depending on what area of the country you are in so pay a little visit to the government's planning portal for businesses to check the details.
Environmental Health- All tattoo parlours must be registered with their local authority’s environmental health department. Once your premises is ready to be opened, a representative will carry out an inspection of the space and the equipment you will be using to ensure that they reach the standards required by local legislation. Health and Safety will be main concern of this inspection with particular attention being paid to cleanliness, hygiene and the use of correct equipment. For a more in depth look at regulations and some great advice visit the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health .