Hot! The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!

IT STARTS WITH BASIC RESPECT

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Tim with “Crazy Eddie” Funk

Aloha, tattoo fans! Due to the overwhelming and encouraging response we got with the “Tattoo Shop Pricing” article I did a while back, Tattoo Road Trip and I thought it would be a good idea to expand on the topic a bit more, as far as the day-to-day operations of tattoo shop life are concerned. I mean, after all, if we’re going to tell everybody we are professionals, we should act like it.

One thing that really grates my cheese is to walk into a tattoo shop and hear blaring music, so loud that it is impossible to hold a conversation with anybody. This is not a matter of musical taste, folks. This is simply about business.24422 488606491182991 486346523 n 224x300 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!

Back in 2005, I did a tattoo convention in Fresno, California. It was a fun show in a nicely lit hall, with plenty of elbow room. My old pal Tom Allen was M.C.-ing the show. He was doing a fine job until some other young man took over to provide commentary about an art fusion project going on up on the stage involving several artists. Microphone in hand, this guy proceeded to utter every explicative known to the English language. It went on for some time and I have to say it was very annoying and I called Tom over to complain. His response was the same I hear every time I bring up the subject: “This ain’t Disneyland, pal.” Then, after I told him about some jerks who were scrubbing mag tubes in the public restroom sinks, Tom told the young man in question and then ridiculed me, complete with expletives, over the P.A. system with full amplification. Real classy.

190397 184708474906129 1146647 n 285x300 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!My question to you readers and everybody else in the tattoo business is this: Is this how we want to represent ourselves to the public? Are we professional tattoo artists or not? We all know that the Reality TV phenomena does not accurately represent us, so why feed into the B.S.? It has taken decades to bring tattooing out of the back alleys and biker bars into the present. Why would we want to contribute to everything that is wrong with tattooing? Aren’t we having enough trouble with every Tom, Dick and Mary opening a shop on every corner these days? Perhaps we cannot control those Reality TV spawn, but we can control ourselves. I must confess, I miss some of the mystery and danger of the old days. Walking into a tattoo shop was an experience of awe and wonder. But, it was dangerous back then, because they reused the same needles over and over for months! It was dangerous because, if you didn’t like the horrible mess the guy did on your arm, he would beat the snot out of you if you didn’t pay! It was mysterious because they told absolutely nobody how tattooing was done. If you asked, they would beat the snot out of you! If you somehow found out how to tattoo and opened up in the same town, they would burn your shop to the ground. Then they would beat the snot out of you again.282569 221396997903943 2096183 n 225x300 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!

Times have changed. Shops are everywhere. Everybody is competing for the same dollar. Even if your work is excellent and theirs is nothing short of a scab factory, that customer base can be ruined by a poor attitude towards the clientele you so fervently try to acquire. Walking into a tattoo shop that smells like armpits, cigarettes and sounds like a Demolition Dirby vs. Godzilla Cuss-a-thon Porno Extravaganza will turn anybody away, including me.

There is a tattoo convention in Southern California that I do not attend anymore. The main resaon is that the promoters are not tattoo people. It shows in how they treat the artists. They treat the artists the same way many shops treat their customers: like cattle. I don’t like being treated this way, so why should I treat my customer like that?

Here in Hanalei, Kauai, I don’t have a “big-city-get-em-in-get-em-out” kinda shop. It’s a small 750-square-foot. space with enough room for three artists and a big, wool-carpeted showroom. I have a good-sized teak trophy case along a wall that has lahala matting and a straw roof. The walls are painted a comfortable gold color with lots of paintings and assorted eye candy on the walls. There are hand-carved Tikis everywhere. We have about thirty books of our line drawings arranged by subject matter on a viewing table (with stools), so people can browse and ask questions. We also have a futon couch against the wall. I let people come in and look around a bit, then I let them know, if they have any questions, to “fire away.” Even if they are just browsing. I always tell them to have a blast with their visit to Kauai on their way out the door.

283036 221485874561722 6438506 n 300x199 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!The most common comment we get from customers is that our shop really makes them feel comfortable and at ease. If they inquire about our sanitary practices, I keep all our certifications and licensing framed on the wall at eye level to inspect. I keep an eclectic music mix on my laptop with about 4,000 hand-picked songs that shuffle all day long. Everybody loves the mix. I have stuff like Harry Manx, Tool , Led Zepplin, Billie Holiday, Nirvana to Enigma. The idea is to have something that appeals to everybody.

Occasionaly, I will allow customers to bring their own CDs. I do not allow “growl rock” or “gangsta rap.” If anybody is going to do any cussing in my shop, it will usually come from a struggling customer that’s getting tattooed on his knee. Seriously, I don’t want my shop to be intimidating in any way. Here are some other ideas:

261599 217932331583743 3185750 n1 300x116 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!HEALTHY DEPOSITS
The most obvious way to tell if a customer is serious or not is to get a deposit for their appointment. (Some shops charge for consultations. I think that is just being greedy.) If customers are not willing to lay down a deposit, then I know they are not ready, for one reason or other. There is no shame in not being ready. I never give them a hard time about this. But, I always remind them that deposits are not refundable, no matter what the circumstances are. (The only exception is when weather makes it impossible for them to get to the shop.) The amount varies from shop to shop, but I suggest a sizable amount to make sure they show up. I take a $50 cash deposit for smaller projects. That way, if they don’t show up, they can’t rescind the charges on their credit card. I charge $100 or more for a sizeable project that requires a fair amount of drawing time. In short, do not make appointments without a cash deposit and never over the phone.3487 488607444516229 884057793 n 177x300 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!

CHARGE FOR DRAWING TIME
Yes, you should always include the drawing time in the price of a tattoo. If a customer complains about the $500 tattoo only taking 2½ hours, when we charge $150 per hour, I remind him that the drawing took an hour. Then, after I bandage them up, I sign the original drawing and give them a copy. I also remind him that I will never tattoo anybody else with the same design. It’s theirs. It’s a nice touch that adds a little professionalism to the experience and makes people feel special.

STAND FIRM
Another way to maintain professionalism is never to bargain with a customer. If they don’t have the money, I suggest they come back when they do. I don’t want anybody walking out the door regretting their tattoo for any reason. I think everybody should get what they want (within reason). Allowing the customer to control the process only lowers their respect for you. We talked about this in my pricing article. You can be firm without being insulting. Calling the customer a “cheap ass” won’t win you any points.

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I do not allow customers who are not being tattooed into the work area. This is extremely unsafe. Two reasons for this: First, they want to touch everything. Second, they can say or do things (by telling them a joke or asking them to look at something) that will cause the client being tattooed to move or jerk about. I’ve been to too many shops and conventions where there is a party going in the booth. Usually, when you explain this to a customer, they understand and appreciate that you are taking extra steps to insure their safety. If you need someone to hold your hand while you’re getting tattooed, then your money might be better spent with a big dish of ice cream with sprinkles. Come back when you are all grown up.

LOOK SHARP, FEEL SHARP
Pull your damned pants up! Honestly, people! Do you think dressing like you just came off a scaffolding covered with paint and ripped-up jeans makes you look cool? Looking neat and clean goes a long way in how customers interpret your level of professionalism. A nice haircut, a trim beard or fresh shave, clean clothes and shoes can tell your client that you know what you are doing. Sloppy appearance only serves to make you look like a slob. You wouldn’t want your shop to look like a garbage truck, so why would you want to look like the garbage man? I really admire guys like Mark Mahoney and Bill Loika, artists who dress up for work.40748 507632539190 7112731 n 300x225 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!

HIRE A SIGN PAINTER
Don’t be a cheap ass, dude! Nothing looks worse than poorly executed shop signs. If you don’t have the skills, spend the money. It takes a real professional to make you look professional. Same goes for your advertising and business cards. This is especially important for your convention banners. When I was in Calgary last October, a guy next to me had a banner that showed some guy blowing his nose into a woman’s mouth. The guy was an excellent tattoo artist, but I don’t think he understood the damage he was doing to himself by using that image. Is this how we want to represent ourselves to the buying public?

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Constructing a collection of well-photographed tattoos is a must! Blurry, out-of-focus, yellowy photographs only serve to make you look like a ’70s biker shop. People want to know what they are getting for their money and even if you are an excellent tattoo artist, your poor photography skills make you look like you are not! Invest in a good camera and read Tattoo Road Trip’ s new photography column and go to www.wasteoftalent.com and check out some of the excellent, hand-tooled leather
portfolios they make.

TATTOO OR PORNO SHOP?
I think you have to make a choice. Many shops these days sell all kinds of unsavory items, like bongs and dildos, to make ends meet. I personally do not believe these belong in a tattoo shop, even though at least one person a week comes in here and asks me where to get weed. This is an unfortunate side effect of the new breed of tattoo shop. At a show in Chicago a few years ago, I saw dildos on display at eye level to any passing child. I realize that the promoter has to sell booths, but I feel that this was way, way more than inappropriate for a tattoo convention.24422 488606491182991 486346523 n1 224x300 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!

LEARN HOW TO SAY NO
I went over this in my pricing article, but saying no to gang-related and racist themes will not only keep those unsavory characters out of your shop, it will also help you sleep at night. I’ve done some tattoos that I am not proud of and I don’t want to be known as a whore, so I let people know what I am not comfortable with. Doing hand and neck tattoos on young people who are not in the tattoo business really makes a bad impression in the eyes of the general public, not to mention, decreasing their chances for employment.

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The most important knowledge one can gather in the tattoo business involves safety for all concerned. You cannot call yourself a professional tattoo artist or piercer unless you have completed certified blood borne pathogens training specific to tattooing, plus Advanced first aid and CPR training. I am not talking about those cheap Internet courses, either. Having a customer pass out in front of you and standing there like a scarecrow is just plain dangerous. If you do not know how to respond, you do not belong in this business. Having a customer become injured or die because of your lack of training could cost you everything you have. And it could cost a customer their life! Lack of knowledge in preventing cross contamination can infect your entire shop, its workers, their families and everyone who comes in and out the door. The Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT) and the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) have excellent courses.

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Check from Larry Flynt for Skin&Ink column

 

BE PUNCTUAL
If you have an appointment at noon, then you should be set up and ready to tattoo by 11:45 a.m. Your coffee is already finished and you’ve already made your trip to the bathroom. And, let’s face it, smoke breaks are a complete waste of everybody’s time. Sometimes, when it’s slow, I like to invite the customer to sit down and we draw out their design together. Otherwise, it is ready to view when they come in for their appointment. There is only one thing worse than having your tattoo artist show up late, unprepared and spewing excuses while he leaves again to go smoke and your appointment starts an hour after it was scheduled. The one thing that is worse is to own a shop whos eartists are constantly late. I’ve fired every single artist who pulled this trick. It shows that they have no respect for the clients, the shop, for me and no respect for themselves or tattooing.

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Don’t be a dick. Be a dude! If you say you are going to do something, then do it… even if it hurts. If you give a low quote, then stick with it. It’s not their fault, it’s yours. If you raise your prices this year, you cannot expect the client to adjust to a quote you already gave last year. If you do, that makes you a liar! Don’t make empty promises just to be liked or to keep the peace. If a project is above your head, then refer it to someone who is proficient at it. If you set an appointment, show up. Give a little extra to the tattoo virgins. Give a break to your regulars. Apologize when you screw up. Don’t talk smack about other shops or artists and don’t listen to their smack, either. Concentrate on your own art. You don’t have to be the best artist in town to be successful. You just have to treat people right.541946 488605741183066 1035704435 n 223x300 The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop, Dammit!

HELP OTHERS
A few years back I knew a really cool guy named Big Matt, who worked for a neighboring shop. Matt was a horrible tattoo artist. I begged him to come over to my place and I would show him some better ways to do things. We didn’t have to tell anybody about it, I just wanted to help him get better. He never did. He may have been a hideous artist but he had tons of customers. Another gal named Jenny worked at the same shop as Matt and was a very fine tattoo artist. One day Jenny was complaining to me that Matt had only been working there at the shop for one year and he had over a dozen backpieces going. In eight years at that shop, she hadn’t done one single backpiece. She could not understand why he was so busy and she wasn’t. I told her the answer. It’s because you’re a bitch, Jenny. People don’t want to get tattooed by a nasty, self-centered witch. I’ve been getting tattooed off and on since 1972. I’ve been half way around the world and gotten tattooed by some great artists and some not so great artists, and I don’t really care how great you are; if you’re an asshole, I don’t want you to touch me. I don’t want that negative mana attached to my skin.

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With Jack Rudy

In summation, I can honestly say that after having been self-employed for thirty-six years, I know, for a fact, that you cannot please everybody. Some people are so picky that nobody can please them. Sometimes one of us has a bad day. Sometimes the planets line up just right and other times they don’t. Some pieces are so good that I have a hard time believing I actually did the work. Not everything I do is a masterpiece, and I cringe at my older creations, just like you do. No matter how good we are or how good we think we are, there is always someone else around us who is better and someone who is not. This is a simple fact. All we can do is the best we can and treat each other with dignity and respect.

Faithful servant to the trade,

—Uncle Tim, Blue Tiki Tattoo, Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii

18 Comments

  1. Tim, this article and the one you wrote on pricing are two of the best articles EVER on Tattoo Road Trip. These should be mandatory reading for anyone wanting to be in the business. Although I am sure you will get your share of hate mail for this last article, it is right on the money! I have been getting tattooed since 1975 and been in the business since 1988 and, as you mentioned, kinda miss the mystique of the way it once was. Maybe some of the respect for others in those days was out of fear, but it was still RESPECT! Not much of that around these days for sure. Please keep up the great writings!

    Steve Anderson, Custom Body Art, Medford,Oregon

  2. Thank you, Steve. Of course, there are always people who will have something negative to say. I’ve never claimed to be Donald Trump or Filip Leu. I’m not perfect and neither are they. All I can do is write from my own personal experience and try to improve on a daily basis. Being self-employed for all that time taught me a lot. If people want to act like asses towards their customers, then all I can do is wish them luck. I’m too busy trying to pay attention to my own progress to argue with anybody who just doesn’t get it, you know? Thank you for your kind words. Let the games begin…….

  3. Thanks for the article.
    It reminded me about going to get my first tattoo in Amsterdam from a well known individual in a well known basement shop. I mustered all my courage when I dealt with him (as he was gruff and intimidating) and made my appointment. I showed up with my desired image on the appointed day and time and was told “no I don’t want to do that”. He was not interested in doing any changes or modifications; in fact he was not into doing anything at all. I slunk out embarrassed.
    I even called him the next day asking if I had done or said something wrong and he arrogantly said no, nothing just didn’t want to do anything and hung up on me. As you said, “just an ass towards their customer.”
    Here I am years later and very happy that he rejected me.
    I am much more learned about the history of tattooing, the business itself, the differences between old school and new, and tattooers and tattoo artists; and even what makes a good or bad image.
    I realize now that his work was over rated at best and while he has numerous friends in the business and a fairly high profile most people who know him , know he can be an arrogant asshole. His business success and difficulties in dealing with people is reflective of that.
    I am honored to have work by Dennis Dwyer, Juli Moon, the Dutchman, Tattoo Molly among others and consider them friends with whom I havbe things in common. I am also fortunate to have numerous old time friends in the industry. Lucky me.

  4. This is an unfortunate part of the business. Although I do not know all the facts in this case, this might be what we refer to as “Rock Star Syndrome.” I have been guilty of this but make an extra effort to be more flexible, when it comes to dealing with the public, especially now that Reality TV has tainted the public perception of tattooing. We are servants, not gods. Thank you for sharing your experience… and good luck in future dealings.

  5. Nice article, Tim.
    Aloha.
    -Noah

  6. Great read for us new tattoo shop managers! With the knowledge that is available these days from people like Tim and Bob Baxter, you just can’t go wrong.

    Dan Vertz, Van’s High Caliber Tattoo, Kennewick, Washington.

  7. Yeh but your work’s less than mediocre. Who cares?

  8. My name is Jordan. I recently read some of your articles on Tattooroadtrip.com. I greatly appreciate your enthusiasm and wisdom! I just wanted to thank you for your time with the articles. I visited your website which was also a great find! I plan to visit you when you make it to Gold Coast because I’m originally from a little up north in Santa Cruz. I’m currently following my own tattoo path and it led me to San Diego. It’s been a wild ride thus far and I try to be the humble kind of tattooist with the nose to the grind stone.

    Again, thanks for the insight and I hope to meet you some day in the future.
    I’ve included a link to my portfolio and if you have time to check out some of my work I would greatly appreciate it and any critiques are totally welcome.

    Good luck in all your endeavours!

    –Jordan LeFever

  9. Angelina Michon

    Hello sir! I recently read your “The Right Way to Run a Tattoo Shop” article on tattooroadtrip.com. It was spot on. After reading the article, I decided that you may be the best man to advise me on a matter I’m currently dealing with.

    I work in a tattoo parlour. I am their head body piercer. The shop I work for is brand new, just opened. Already tho, I have noticed A LOT of, what I think, are serious issues with how the shop is run, the lack of professionalism, various other things. I won’t bore you with a novel of what’s wrong at the shop. Short version is that the owner hired a manager who, by her own admission, has no managerial/ supervisor experience, has never worked in the body mod industry, and is squeamish around needles. She is incompetent in every facet of her job and the shop is suffering for it. Another, now former employee, raised the issue and was not only told to never come back but has been bad-mouthed ever since.
    I want to help get this shop running smoothly, as I have the skills necessary to do so, but I don’t know how to bring it up. I don’t want to come across as “trying to take over” or as condescending or insulting. After seeing how the last person who mentioned the ridiculous manner in which the shop is run was treated, I don’t want to set myself up for a war. I am legitimately only trying to help.
    Do you have any advice on how I can bring the laundry list of what’s being done wrong to the attention of the owner without him taking it the wrong way? How would you handle this situation? I am on the verge of leaving this shop all together because I don’t want my name associated with a poorly run, shoddy business. I would love to stay tho, as long as some changes are made and I am more than willing to help solve the problems.

    I thank you for taking the time to read, and hopefully reply, to my email. I know you’re a busy man and I genuinely appreciate any time you spare to advise me in this matter. Again, thank you so much! Have a good one!

    -Angelina Michon

  10. Dear Angelina:

    I’m glad you enjoy the articles. Sounds like you have the problem that plaques many shops these days. It’s being run by infantile egomaniacs who know absolutely nothing about the tattoo/piercing business. It is a difficult problem bringing up solutions to problems when there are people in charge with no business acumen. It’s like trying to explain brain surgery to a garbage man.

    My advice would be to take the owner aside from the rest of the crew (preferably after the shop closes) and explain it to him or her as gently as possible. Having a list handy is a good way to itemize each problem one by one. If the owner is not interested in improving the efficiency of their operation then moving on to another opportunity is probably the best move. You can’t beat a dead horse.

    It’s as simple as this.

    I wish you good luck with your career.

    Aloha
    Uncle Tim
    Blue Tiki Tattoo

  11. Aloha Tim
    Thank you for sharing your insights to the overall running of a successful Tattoo Studio it was a fantastic read. Just over 14 months ago my fiancé and I opened our own studio and we are very happy that we have ticked all the boxes you have described as important. However in the last week we have unfortunately lost one of our artists whom has been with us since just after we started. It was a very sudden departure and was effective immediately. She informed us it was entirely due to medical conditions. Only days later we discovered she had contacted a large number of her clients and offering them to have their work completed at her home. We were completely shocked and very disappointed in the way she carried herself. Aside from dobbing her in to authorities how do we best handle this situation? Do we let those few
    Slide and focus on keeping ourselves together for us and the rest of our staff and clientele or do we chase those she has contacted? To date we have basically let it slide and tried not to let it drag us down completely. We feel it maybe a situation of the grass is greener on the other side. That maybe she feels she doesnt need us? Have you ever had to deal with this type of behaviour from an employee? How can we prevent this from happening again? Also due to the shock departure she had been paid a lot of money in advance by way of deposits for work she is now not completing? Do you pay your artists the deposits as they come in or only as the work is completed?
    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and we would truly appreciate any advice you may have for us. We are a family owned and run business and we are caring considerate people but we don’t want to be walked all over because of this.

    Kind regards from Australia
    Erin & Junior

  12. Some damn good advice. A lot of people should read this.

  13. Great article! I got my first tattoo last night as a walk-in at a wonderful tattoo shop near me. The place was clean (and even had an amazing Koi pond), there was no music playing (if there was it wasn’t loud enough to be a memorable aspect of the experience) – instead the artists were talking with the clients as they went. All of the artists have over 15 years experience. I was able to talk to a woman I could see who was also getting her first tattoo about 15 feet away from me while I was waiting for the artist working with me to complete the sketch (that’s how quiet it was in the shop). I felt very comfortable getting my tattoo done at this shop. The artist I worked with was incredibly professional and was very personable and enthusiastic about the simple piece I wanted done. I was lucky that this talented man was able to tattoo me that day (he had a no-show and usually schedules out 2 months). The prices were a bit on the high end but I don’t mind paying more for a great artist who made me feel comfortable while getting my first tattoo (I ended up being charged less than the original quote, however). There’s something to be said for a shop that is comfortable for the first time client and the client who has multiple intricate tattoos. I will definitely be going back to this artist at this shop again.

  14. Thank you for this! I have been researching tattoo shops for a novel I’m getting ready to start writing in a few days. This article has helped me so much more than anything else I’ve read. I even visited a local tattoo shop (where I get all my ink done) for help and while the guys there are awesome, they weren’t able to help me learn much about the inner workings of a shop. I am definitely going to look up your pricing article that I’ve seen mentioned here!

    Thanks again!

  15. Hey Tim,
    Awesome article! I am at the beginning stages of opening a shop for my daughter who is talented beyond my wildest dreams & I agree with everything you said, based on my personal experiences with various tattoo shops & over-sized artist egos. Cussing, smoke & “snort” breaks, doggin’ the work people already have on their bodies, more talkin’ than tattoin’, loitering friends who are rude as hell & so on. I have big plans for my shop & my daughter & Boy, do I wish you were closer to help me with this process. I’m so confused right now as far as where to begin the process. Already have fantastic artists on board, but I so need some direction for licensing & where to go for help. But I just wanted you to know after a bizzilion hours of Google searches, I’m so glad I found your articles. Best of wishes to you.

  16. Howzit… I was browsing online last night and came across an article you wrote on operating a tattoo shop.. very informative and I learned a thing or two… My name is Aldon aka Mystik… I’m opening a tattoo shop in kekaha “Mystik Tattoos”… I was wondering if you have any advice, that would be greatly appreciated… I rarely get out to hanalei but I would like the chance to meet you and talk stories… I’m very opened minded and take constructive critism very well… I’m always looking to learn and improve in the art of tattooing… I’m not a rockstar, just a humble student trying to learn all that I can about the biz… I would love to tell you about me and would appreciate to hear anything that you have to say.. thanks for taking the time to read my email…

    Much Aloha,
    Mystik

  17. Uncle Tim Heitkotter

    Actually, I’ve moved to California. Not doing street shop stuff anymore but all I can tell you is that first you polish your craft in as many shops as you can and master as many styles as you can THEN open a shop.

    Only by spending a few years in other established “legitimate” shops, can you learn the ins and outs of the tattoo trade enough to survive as a business and as an artist. Most tattoo artists these days get about 4 months of limited training, have a falling out with their master then open up right down the street from them. That’s why there are WAY too many shops these days. It’s a modern phenomina I can only contribute to “Reality TV”.

    Getting an art degree is always a good idea if you want to catch up with today’s highly skilled artists with formal art training. A business degree is advised as well. Then, of course I recommend taking the APT BBP course (not the stupid internet courses) to learn the proper way to tattoo without contaminating everything around you.

    My skills as an artist and as a business man came with 36 years of self employment. I had to learn things the hard way. I made many mistakes but I am still here and I still make money and expand my clientele list every day. Experience is the one thing you cannot buy. But, you can buy an education.

    Opening up your own place and cut throating your neighboring shops just to attract business is not the way to go. It will only alienate your from people who are trying to do things the right way and still make a decent living/provide jobs for others. Cut-throating is disrespecting the trade and sending a message to people that tattooing is cheap entertainment and not the highly evolved art form that it really is. If you know your trade, you won’t have to….people will seek you out because you are a highly evolved/skilled artist….not because you are cheap.

    I wish you luck and advise you not to rush into anything that will cheat you from success as a tattoo artist. Kauai is a very expensive place to operate a legitimate business. Most businesses fail within the first 6 months because of what I am talking about. I was there for 8 years and sold the business for a healthy profit.

    I appreciate that you enjoyed my articles. I’m glad the public is getting something out of them. Thank you for your inquiry.

    Aloha
    Uncle Tim
    http://www.uncletimtattoo.com

  18. Hi Tim!
    Thank you for this article, it was really interesting, helpful and straight to the point. I am not long in this industry, (been tattooing professionally since 2012) and on top of all am self taught artist, due to that fact, i was very sensitive about getting everything right and prove it to myself and to all those around who try to belittle and demotivate me- that they were wrong.
    I have also had bad experiences with lots of negativity in this industry, which was killing me from inside, and affecting my mood pretty hard. It was a very rocky road up..and I wanted to be just myself, which seemingly was contradicting a lot to what “tattoo world” is all about..i wanted to stay true to my principles and values, down to earth and focused on what i like doing. Its been a year now that i have opened my own studio, which i run solo, and even thou it is a lot of work and at times getting overwhelming, i am so content i done this move and gone ahead to have a business of my own, a place where i can treat people nicely, without any drama, where i can do my art and in be in focus. And even thou i won’t describe my small studio as something super duper fancy and screaming, i try to keep to the minimum as i see the place as a temporary, as well the country i live in right now, but most important things are there, and the ambience (from what i am being told by my clients, is really calm, relaxing and nice) which is what i was aiming for …
    I was pleased to know for myself that pretty much everything you noted in the article is the way i see running a business myself, guess it is a matter of a common sense and logic to start with after all !

    Thank you for your time and input!
    ~Elle

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