Simply put, tattoo artists are artists. Being a “starving artist” is often exaggerated, and we don’t want to be broke like any other artist. So here are four things you can do to encourage business into the studio if you want to generate more money and attract more clients:
1. Have a website, first.
No matter how unique your tattoos are, they are useless if no one ever sees them. Setting up a Facebook business page, an Instagram account, and a Twitter account can help you get far, but no matter how you customise these sites, your page will always appear identical to the others. Your shop website is an opportunity for you to showcase your aesthetic, and since you write a lot of it, it also allows you to showcase your personality. Contrary to popular belief, if two artists work at the same level, clients will likely choose the one they feel more at ease with, even if they charge a little bit more. Additionally, a website offers you unrestricted room to display your portfolio, your store images, and your work galleries, which also makes your consumers feel at ease before they even enter the building.
To create your shop website, you don’t need to be a web genie or the best graphic designer in the world; if you’re tech-phobic, Squarespace makes hosting a gorgeous website ridiculously simple. If you have photographs to work with, it takes around 20 minutes to have your site up and running. Don’t skimp on your photography is the only advice I have. You indeed have some camera knowledge. Perhaps your father’s brother, nephew, or cousin’s ex-roommate took a photography class at some point, but hiring a professional photographer to take and edit your photos is worthwhile. If money is an issue, you can always look for a photographer that will accept tattoos in exchange for photography; just make sure to look through their portfolio and sign a contract before you start parting with your ink.
2. Engage in some practice.
The first thing in the morning, the last thing in the evening, and the doodling on the Starbucks receipt that makes your barista grin are good times to practise your art. It can be difficult to quit creating when you’re having a great time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve.
The local Japanese painting workshop I attended was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Although I favour neo-traditional tattoos over Japanese-style ink, studying a new style made me realise how little I knew about colour schemes and that particular design. Bring business cards because it can be a terrific experience and you’ll meet many locals. It’s not a good idea to just throw them at someone, but if you’ve been chatting with them for a while, it’s a terrific way to establish a relationship and confirm that you are a tattoo artist. This brings to mind…
3. Get cards to give out. Preferably, stickers, but even then.
Seriously. I frequently hear that business cards are no longer useful, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, particularly for tattoo artists. There is no assurance that someone will remember your name even if they can recall your store. It is almost certain that they will forget. Yes, even your “very original” nickname will likely be forgotten. Two workarounds exist for this:
Keep business cards on hand or place them at your workstation so that people may quickly find them in their wallets and remember you.
Get business card-style stickers with the information about your shop, and then write your name in Sharpie on the back.
However, stickers have an additional issue: people constantly want to stick them on things. This means that if you printed stickers in the shape of business cards, your information would probably stick everywhere else in town. Free advertising may sound appealing, and it frequently is! It’s typically fantastic, but the individual you supplied your information to no longer has it. The other drawback is that you have no control over where that sticker ends up. I can attest to this because I have personally received calls from churches that have discovered my stickers hidden beneath their pews. Stickers are a possibility. However, I’ve found that standard business cards work better.
4. Join forces with a good cause.
Everyone has a cause they are passionate about, whether it is supporting breast cancer research, your local humane society, or a children’s hospital that requires money. You can significantly contribute to these important causes despite what you may think. Every year, tattoo parlours work with their local community to support many charities, and your participation in this movement will do you good. This is one instance where being kind truly pays off.
The biggest advantages of holding a charity event are that it helps you become more involved in the community, it helps dispel the stereotype that tattoo culture is “tough, delinquent,” it increases (positive!) awareness of your studio, and it can raise a tonne of money for a cause that you genuinely believe in. Here are a handful of the studios that have truly improved their neighbourhood if you need some motivation:
Over $17,000 has been raised by Wild Bill’s Tattoo in Roseville, California, for the UC Davis Children’s Hospital to support paediatric research and the care of local children.
In order to collect money for The Torch, a non-profit food truck that provides food gratis to people in need, The Shop collaborated with Shöne Foto in Fowlerville, Michigan.
The Asheville Humane Society benefits from an annual fundraiser called Paws for a Cause held by Freaks and Geeks Tattoo Sideshow in Asheville, North Carolina.
As I said, these are things you should want to do; if you aren’t willing to volunteer your time and get enthusiastic about the money raised (that you would be essentially giving away), you’d probably want to avoid hosting an event, but it gives you a fantastic opportunity to utilise your status as a tattoo artist for beneficial change. It will undoubtedly increase both your and your cause’s prominence.
If your artwork is truly horrible or your store is a rotting health hazard, none of these things will ultimately matter, but if you’ve reached a plateau, they can assist you to boost foot traffic. Reputation-building takes time, so keep in mind that no method will work for you instantly. Just remember that the outcome will be worthwhile.