How to start a tattoo business in South Africa

How to start a tattoo business in South Africa

This is a guide on how to start a tattoo business in South Africa.

Tattoos have come a long way from being seen as taboo. More and more people now see them as harmless body art and have disassociated them with all the taboo things they used to represent. More and more people are getting tattoos each year in South Africa.

Here are some of the requirements for starting a tattoo business.

1. Licenses

It’s easy to draw on paper, but not so easy to ink someone’s body. You need to have a license that allows you to work as a tattoo artist. This license is not just given to anyone, you will have to go through a tough process to obtain your license. You should be a certified tattoo artist; you should have worked a certain number of hours and performed a certain number of tattoos before being licensed.

2. Operating premises

Operating premises are very important for any business that deals with clients physically. You will need to rent a space, working from home is not recommended at all. The size of the premises you rent will be determined by the number of artists you plan to have. Will you be the sole tattoo artist or will you hire other artists?

It’s not uncommon to see tattoo studios with extra space just to rent out to other artists. Most of these artists are usually traveling artists or just artists that can’t afford to lease a commercial space.

You will either have to rent out an office or a storefront, renting a storefront is highly recommended for new tattoo parlours. The main benefit to renting a storefront is that you will get a lot of walk-in traffic. It will be easier for people to notice your studio and walk right in for a few minutes, which might lead them to booking apartments. Working out of an office is generally reserved for people who already have a lot of clients.

Your location should preferably be in a busy area, it must also be very accessible.

3. Renovations

You might rent out a space that used to be a restaurant or furniture shop; you will need to remodel it to match the feel of a tattoo studio. Renovations will include painting, putting up art and buying furniture. Furniture might include things like a couch for your clients to sit on while waiting.

4. Insurance

A lot can go wrong while tattooing people; which might lead to them suing your tattoo business. The best thing to do is to get insurance that will cover you in such cases.

5. Marketing

Operating out of a storefront is a form of marketing in itself. However, it can take time before people really start noticing your parlour. You are going to have to do some forms of marketing if you want to reach a wider clientele sooner.

Word of mouth usually works very well. A lot of people that are getting a tattoo for the first time usually know someone who has a tattoo and would much rather be referred to a tattoo studio because of trust. You will have to provide exceptional services in order to get clients through word of mouth.

Try to give discounts to first timers, these should not be people who already have tattoos but are getting one at your studio but people who have never done a tattoo before. This is a great way to encourage them to get a tattoo and they will likely use your services for their next tattoo.

Digital marketing will also bring you a lot of clients, there are tattoo shops with over 3.5 million followers on Instagram and the hashtag “tattoo” has been used over 60 million times. This just shows the volume of tattoo enthusiasts that can be found digitally. Open social media pages, focus on Instagram, you can leave out the rest, try to get a website for your tattoo business. You can get a website for only R1 200 from Promta Web Services.


Starting any business is not easy, your main ongoing expenses will be utilities and supplies. You will have to buy supplies very often. This was a guide on how to start a tattoo business in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. How to make tattoo license?

  2. How to get license for tatooing

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