Open a Tattoo & Piercing Studio

A tattoo studio (also called a tattoo parlour) is a place where tattoos as well as body piercings are done. I will look at the various business models in this industry.

To open a tattoo studio you don’t have to be able to do tattoo’s personally, many people open one as a way to make more money from an investment perspective, whether they own the property or not.

There are various business models in this industry, here are a few of them:

Neon tattoo sign

The owner of the tattoo studio charges each tattoo artist a commission on every job he does, in exchange the studio owner provides the venue, basic supplies and sometimes receptionist to take appointments. Example: If a studio has five rooms, and he charges a 25% commission to artists and each artist make an average of R20 000 a month, then the studio owner takes home R25000 (R5000 x 5). Commissions will vary circumstance to circumstance but can run as high as 40%.

Here the studio owner charges the tattoo artist to rent a room the same way some hair salons rent out chairs, this is usually on a weekly to monthly basis. And you still provide the basics, latex gloves or whatever is required, which can be picked up at medical supply stores.

Rent + Commission
Here the studio owner charges a bit less rent, but makes it up by charging a commission (but less commission than the commission structure above), often in the region of 10% in addition to the rent.

Employer with salaried staff
Here you take on a bit more risk with the potential of more profits, you have tattoo artists work for you 9-5 (or whatever your opening hours are) and you pay them a weekly or monthly salary. Like you would pay any other staff, the success of this model depends on some variables, such as tattoo artist reputation and location, yes you have to consider those for the above mentioned models as well when deciding on commission percentage. But here you have to apply your mind even more, as now you have the property rent expense, tattoo artist expense and all the equipment and materials he needs, needles, gloves, piercings etc. and the receptionist to take calls and make appointments.


As I have stated you don’t have to be a tattoo artist or body piercer to be successful in this business, but if you are then it’s even better because you will be making your profits and taking from others to cover the running costs of the studio. You just have to make sure that you are fair with the way work that comes through the door is distributed.

Sales and Marketing
This is a business that does well on visual social networks such as Instagram and Facebook, where you can share your work and get followers. But this is also a word of mouth business, so you have to sign up artists with good reputations. Many tattoo artists don’t want to have the schlep of managing a shop but also don’t want to work from home while their cat or dog might come jump on them while they working. So they go the studio route and hire a room.

Tattoo artist at desk

Type Service
Equipment Venue, shop fittings, tattoo machine, needles
Materials Ink, sterilisation materials, cleaning materials
Guide Tattoo equipment & Supplies list

Though this list may appear extensive, you can also start with the most basic items and build up your tools and supplies with time. Remember, do not skimp on the quality of supplies you purchase!

Sector Tattoo & Piercings, Body art