Industry Deep Dive Tattooing Guide

Industry Deep Dive: Promo for Tattoo Artists and Piercers

A far cry from the days where tattoos were reserved for sailors heading out to battle – tattoos and piercings are now so mainstream that these mostly small businesses comprise a $3 billion-per-year industry. And it’s still growing! In this guide, you’ll find out just how promo products fit into this not-so-niche industry and how you can help your local artists and entrepreneurs with the power of promo!

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TATTOOING AND PIERCING Since the beginning of time, humans have had the desire for self-expression, to show off our individuality amongst the crowd. Whether that’s wearing colorfully dyed clothing, painting our bodies and faces, or fixing our hair a certain way. Tattooing and piercing stems from these desires and is a practice almost as old as the human race itself! Today tattoos may hold significance in the form of an accomplishment, represent a loved one, a fandom (the fan community surrounding a piece of pop culture), ties to an ancestral culture, religion, and so much more. The oldest known tattoo tools, primarily turkey leg bones with sharpened ends, were found in Tennessee in 1985 and estimated to be from around 5520 B.C.E. However, the oldest recorded evidence of a tattoo on a human was a mummy found in the Ötztal Alps in 1991, dubbed Ötzi the Iceman, dating all the way back between 3360 - 3100 B.C.E. The next widely practiced generation of tattoos were called Hand-Poke or Stick-and-Poke, created by tapping a piece of wood embedded with a thorn or specially designed tattoo needle into the skin. This practice originated from the traditional origins of non-electric tattoos and can still be seen today. These types of tattoos are prominent in the South Pacific area and in many other parts of the world and cultures where they represent a deep connection to spirituality. Today, what we know as modern tattooing, emerged in the early 20th century, popularized by artists like Bert Grimm and Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins (yes, the guy from the rum), with a bold, limited color palette design originally called American Traditional. Now, artists all over the world have honed their own style and skills to create a magical plethora of designs as wide-reaching as any other art form. Image: Tattoos found on Ötzi the Iceman Image: Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins

TERMINOLOGY WALK-IN SHOP A tattoo shop where walk-ins are welcome, and no appointments are needed. Artists at these shops will also have their own clients with appointments. Most walk-in tattoo shops also o er piercing. LINER Used to create the outline of the tattoo or small details. SHADER Used for coloring and shading. AFTERCARE How you care for a piercing or tattoo a er it has been completed. PIERCING NEEDLE A hollow needle that a professional piercer uses to punch a hole in the skin. Piercing needles come in di erent gauges for di erent types of piercings. GAUGE The term gauge refers to the size of a piercing. Standard piercings for earlobes are 18g. For other parts of the ear, face, or body parts, they can range from 16-12g. The lower the number, the bigger the hole. MICROBLADING The process of using a small, handheld razor blade to create hair-like whisps to enhance or shape eyebrows. SANIDERM, DERMSHIELD, SECOND SKIN A clear adhesive bandage that the artist will directly put over a fresh tattoo. This traps the plasma, ink, and blood for a quicker, better heal. COSMETIC TATTOOING Cosmetic tattooing, also known as permanent makeup, is done to enhance certain features like eyebrows, lips, eyes, or even adding freckles. APPOINTMENT ONLY An appointment only shop is usually a private establishment where walk-ins are not welcome, a client must make an appointment with their desired artist beforehand. SCRATCHER An unlicensed, untrained individual who usually tattoos out of their home. TATTOO MACHINE Instrument which pierces the skin at a high rate of speed to inject ink under the dermis. Just like any industry, it’s important to know what’s what in the tattoo and piercing industry! Here is a quick glossary of terms to help you understand what people are talking about. Source:,

INDUSTRY STATS 145 million Americans have tattoos. Millennials represent 47% of all people with tattoos. The tattoo industry is worth over $3 billion – and that includes piercing and cosmetic tattoos as well as the aftercare market. 15% of people have more than 5 tattoos. There are over 20,000 tattoo shops in the US. The oldest tattoo shop in the world is in Razzouk, Jerusalem and is more than 300 years old. 92% of people with tattoos do not regret them. While 70.9% of tattooists are male, and only 29.1% female, about 61.6% of piercers are female with only 38.4% being male. 61% of Americans have a piercing.

So, you want to add these businesses to your client roster? That’s awesome! But what kind of products can you pitch? We can help with that! • T-shirts • Stickers • Enamel Pins • Patches • Hoodies • Popsockets WHAT KIND OF PROMO? PROMO IDEAS FOR TATTOO SHOPS Remember, tattoo artists, shops, and piercers are all small businesses! Some artists are shop owners but many individual artists will rent booth space at a shop, similar to a hair salon business model, and manage their own book of business. Both shop owners and individual artists are most likely looking for small ways to promote their brand and gain recognition. Source:,,


As promotional products professionals, we know that kitting is the future! A kit can be completely customized at any price point for the shop, artist, or even both! A great example would be an aftercare kit! Here are some suggestions to include: LET’S TALK KITTING! KITS FOR TATTOO ARTISTS AND SHOPS KITS FOR PIERCERS Work with the shop or artist to design an exclusive box or package design! A non-scented lotion like Lubriderm® or CeraVe® Saline spray Aquaphor® Stickers Aftercare guide An extra piece of Saniderm™, Dermalize®, or SecondSkin™ Stickers Aftercare guide

Aftercare companies are ones that sell special products for tattoos. Some well-known industry brands are Hush ™, Mad Rabbit®, and Saniderm ™. From sample kits for shops to sponsoring tattoo conventions - and all the swag - the promotional possibilities are endless for these aftercare brands to get their products visibility. AFTERCARE

TATTOO CONVENTIONS & EVENTS THE VILLAIN ARTS TATTOO FESTIVAL TOUR This festival is the biggest convention in the United States! They visit over 25 cities each year. LITERARY INK A nerdy convention with a wizarding world theme! GOLDEN STATE TATTOO EXPO This expo is hosted by Inked Magazine. INK MASTERS TATTOO SHOW Another traveling tattoo show, they visit about ten cities a year.

OTHER EVENTS Many shops will often host their own events; these events are called flash days! You can find shops or individual artists doing flash days, and they’re usually themed to a specific day or holiday. They might include: • Friday the 13th • Halloween • May the 4th • 420

The tattoo and piercing industry is about artistry and expression, celebrating who you are as a person, showing your wins, losses, or simply things you just plain like! The promotional products industry is the perfect partner to help these artists paint the world in vibrant, bold colors. “I haven’t done my best yet… only my best so far.” Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins

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