Most professional tattoo artists are drawn to the business out of love for the art, craft, and community of tattooing. But any artist who dreams of opening their own shop must understand that tattooing is also a business. In order to run a successful professional tattoo shop, you’ll need both tattoo supplies and business supplies. There’s a lot to consider and acquire, but PainfulPleasures is here to make it simple.
A COMPREHENSIVE TATTOO SUPPLY LIST
There are a few major categories of supplies that every tattoo shop should have. Below we break them down and list the essential tattoo shop supplies within each category.
Front-of-shop supplies and equipment are critical to helping you efficiently process and track sales and inventory. While they’re not nearly as exciting as tattoo machines or other tattooing supplies, they’re absolutely necessary for building and managing a successful tattoo shop.
The point of sale (POS) is the time and place where a merchant calculates the amount owed by a customer for goods and services and charges them that amount. In short, your POS is where money changes hands. These days, digital POS systems have largely replaced traditional cash registers in most small businesses due to their convenience and simplicity. With a good POS system, you’ll not only be able to quickly ring customers up and process various types of payments, but also track and manage data and systems critical to the success of your business—sales, inventory, customer relations, and staffing.
There are many different POS options on the market today, and knowing which one best suits your tattoo shop will require some research and consideration. One strong option for many tattoo shops, however, is the REV23 Tattoo Management Studio, a tattoo-industry-specific software suite that contains a built-in POS in addition to many other useful features such as a virtual receptionist, scheduling and communication tools, payment tools, client data and release tracking, email marketing integration and more.
To easily track inventory and sales, a UPC barcode system is critical. And in order to scan barcodes, you’ll need a barcode reader. In addition to simplifying checkout and inventory tracking, some barcode scanners can also read the specialized barcodes found on driver’s licenses, which is especially useful to tattoo shops, which must verify the age of their clients.
CREDIT CARD READER
No business operating today can survive without a credit card reader. While some retail POS systems include an integrated credit card reader, many tattoo studios prefer an external reader that can handle not only credit card payments, but read driver’s licenses and gift cards as well.
Every sale you make generates a receipt, and that means you need a receipt printer. While many POS systems enable merchants to send receipts to customers’ email addresses, you must still be able to provide physical copies. Depending on your software skills and accounting methods, physical copies may be useful for you as well.
REFERENCE BOOKS FOR ARTISTS AND CLIENTS
While tattooing involves plenty of imagination, it also requires reference. By stocking your shop with tattoo reference books, sketchbooks, and flash sheets you can help clients describe their envisioned designs more clearly and provide artists with a useful source of inspiration and reference when creating new designs.
These days a lot of small business marketing is done online. But because tattoo shops provide an in-person service and are often built through community and word-of-mouth, it’s also important to establish a real-world marketing presence. That means printing business cards, signage, promotional banners, stickers, posters, magnets, or other materials that help establish your brand and reputation in your community. With the PainfulPleasures online Print Shop, getting all of your physical marketing materials in one place has never been easier—just choose which items and sizes you’d like to print and submit your digital designs to our expert printers.
With the front end of the business taken care of, you can start shopping for tattoo artist essentials to stock your workstations. These tattoo supplies and equipment are absolutely necessary for tattooing safely, comfortably, and expertly.
GLOVES – LATEX AND NITRILE
Latex or nitrile gloves are one of the most basic and essential safety and hygiene supplies in every tattoo shop. Because you’ll be wearing a new pair every time you work on a client, you’ll need to keep them well-stocked.
High-quality tattoo needles are necessary for taking your designs from concept to completion for your clients. PainfulPleasures carries one of the largest selections of both traditional tattoo needles and needle cartridges you’ll find online, from the best brands in the business.
Stainless steel tattoo trays are one of the best tools for keeping your station clean and organized while you work. Many artists today use disposable cartridge needles, which can only be loaded with a single color of tattoo ink. For pieces that require multiple inks and needles, a tattoo needle tray can keep them organized and help minimize transition times during sessions.
Before you can tattoo on the skin, you’ll need to make sure that skin is clean and clear of hairs that could become entangled with the tattoo needle and affect ink depositing. That means disposable razors are a must-have for every tattoo artist.
There are plenty of health and hygiene regulations that tattoo shops must abide by, and the use of sharps containers to safely contain and dispose of used needles is one of the most important.
COVER SHEETS FOR CHAIRS AND HEADRESTS
Sterile single-use barriers are another important health and hygiene supply for tattoo shops to keep on hand. These medical barriers help keep work surfaces, clothes, and furniture protected from contamination.
In order to stay physically comfortable and stable while you work with clients, it’s important to have a good artist chair. A high-quality hydraulic artist chair allows you to make adjustments to the height and position of your chair in order to best accommodate your specific body size and posture.
ADJUSTABLE TATTOO CHAIR
Your clients’ comfort is just as important as your own, which means a quality tattooing chair is a must-have for any tattoo shop. A good client chair will have multiple points of support and adjustment, allowing you to position the client in a way that’s comfortable for them while allowing you to work easily.
To make sure you’re nailing the details of your designs, it is useful to keep a magnifying lamp on your station.
Good lighting is absolutely necessary for tattooing clearly and precisely. If you’re in need of additional or directional lighting in your workspace, try a floor lamp or adjustable workstation lamp.
Tattooing requires a lot of different tools, supplies, and parts. The best way to keep them clean and organized is to use a tattoo workstation, which is basically a toolbox for tattoo artists. With multiple drawers, shelves, and electrical sockets, a high-quality tattoo workstation is one of the most functional and efficient pieces of furniture you can put in your tattoo shop.
Sterile ointments help keep clients’ skin moisturized during tattooing, allowing for smoother and cleaner contact between the skin and the tattoo needle and aiding in the depositing of ink beneath the skin surface. They can also be used after tattooing to aid in recovery.
Tattoo machine covers are another important safety and hygiene supply, providing a barrier between your machine and any airborne or bloodborne contaminants during tattooing.
TATTOO AFTERCARE PRODUCTS
As every tattoo artist knows, good aftercare is essential to ensuring the quality and longevity of a tattoo. You should carry a range of tattoo aftercare products to send your clients home with when their session is done.
When creating designs for a client, you’ll probably start on paper or a tablet. But to transfer that design onto a client’s skin for tattooing, you’ll need a thermal printer and thermal transfer paper.
STENCIL PAPER AND SOLUTION
Stencil paper allows tattoo artists to draw their designs by hand and create a duplicate that can be put into a thermal printer. The tattoo stencil solution allows the design printed by the thermal printer to be transferred onto a client’s skin.
Many types of artists use lightboxes, including tattoo artists. Lightboxes allow for easy tracing, transfer, and adjustment of designs.