Tattoo Tips & Tricks

How to manage a tattoo shop

By 28 June 2022 July 8th, 2022 No Comments


Wondering how to manage a tattoo shop? Most tattoo studio owners are also Tattooists. There are many steps involved in managing a successful shop. Most owners hire a studio manager to take care of the daily duties involved in running the shop.

The tattoo studio manager first has to decide how how they want things done. Normally the the studio manager is required to discuss with the owner how they want things done. You will need to know the procedures to be followed and the special requirements of each individual tattoo artist. Plus, all of the regulations the studio must follow while effectively managing the business.


The studio managers role, is too provide support to the team and a point of call to funnel information between the client and the artist. Whether it be a small tattoo studio that only requires one or two of these roles. Or a large tattoo studio that requires multiple individuals in each area of creative and resource management.
Without this integral role, much of the management of each project falls on the tattooists’ shoulders. This Allows them less time for the creative and design aspects of each piece and the actual creation of the artwork itself.

How to manage a tattoo shop – MANAGING CREATIVE PEOPLE

Being a personable character is an important trait for a Studio Manager. Creative people are notoriously difficult to manage so there is quite a bit of biting your lip and picking the right moment to approach difficult subjects. Patience is very often required when you are – as Karen like to say – ‘herding cats”!
A happy studio makes for an enjoyable work environment. Creative people don’t do well in unhappy spaces and it’s very often the studio managers job to keep things on an ‘even keel’. This involves a lot of people management but increased productivity and an all-round warm fuzzy feeling makes a tattoo studio a great place to work.
The Harvard Business Review published a post called Seven Rules For Managing Creative People a while back. It’s patronising tone and the assumption that “creatives” are a bunch of brats demanding a different set of operating instructions. Quite Honestly my reaction was ‘give me a break’.
There is – however – an art to getting the best work out of creative people on a consistent and efficient basis and it definitely can be tricky business.
Conjureing the next brilliant tattoo idea out of thin air, requires  a combination of inspiration, hard work, experience, intuition, and confidence, Nurturing an environment that promotes this and managing a workforce of creative professionals definitely requires a certain degree of sensitivity to individual skills.
 “Creatives are individual people and have unique things that motivate them. So when you respect understand that, that’s a pretty good cocktail,” says Evan Fry, executive director of creative development at Crispin Porter


This aspect of a good studio managers role is far too often overlooked. When we think of creativity, we think of people doing the hands-on executionWhen we think of creativity, we think of people doing the hands-on execution or performance: the artists.
But there’s another type of creativity. This is the same creativity that makes the the film director, the conductor, the creative director, the record producer, the entrepreneur.

And the studio Manager.

When you’re managaing, you don’t get to do the fine detail and you often don’t see much of the limelight. But you do get to shape the big picture. Instead of creating each individual tattoo you get to be the person who builds an amazing, successful creative team working in a great environment.
So if you really want to work on the ‘big canvas’. The tattoo studio managers role might be for you.


Of course, as with any role, there are challenges. Learning to say ‘no’ but providing an alternative is a key tactic to managing difficult creatives. As is understanding and navigating team politics and balancing individuals wants and needs on a professional and personal level.
Most creative workers use the right-brain style of learning and working, which is a visual, random, emotional and somewhat impulsive style of learning. According to data compiled at Western Michigan University. Right brain people like to work with sound in the background (note all those ear buds around the studio), like to move about while thinking about concepts and generally start with a big idea and narrow it to the details.
Karen does all of these things amazingly! We simply couldn’t do what we do without her. Her professionalism and client communication skills a a huge part of the experience of booking and getting a tattoo at Modern Electric.
It all comes down to communication, respect and teamwork. She is constantly re-evaluating our processes and learning how to balance constraints and freedoms to achieve the best end result.
Creative people think in a way that is likely to challenge the more structured through process of managers. It may be frustrating but the same thought process that challenges the rules, is the same process that got you incredible results on a tattoo project. Appreciating this difference is key.
The skills she uses to run the studio were gained through years of experience running busy receptions for some of the biggest hotel chains in the country. She believes that the hospitality industry is an ideal background for anyone wanting to become a tattoo studio manager.
“Any previous experience in a client focused role will stand you in good stead. Good communication skills are a must as there’s a lot of talking and organising to be done in a busy shop”

How to manage a tattoo shop – ROLES

Still wondering how to manage a tattoo shop? Here’s a small breakdown of the Tattoo studio managers roles. The amount and complexity of these tasks will depend on how the owner decides to run the business and the size of the shop. You will need to schedule time for all these duties, as needed. The amount of time needed will depend on whether your role is simply ‘front of house’ or more involved where you may be responsible for all the accounts payable/receivable and other accounting tasks.
  • Physically take inventory at least once a week.
  • Place any orders to replace used items in inventory
  • Check the appointment schedules of each artist to see what is on the agenda for the day.
  • If artists have individual work schedules, check these schedules as well, to see when each of them is available for appointments.
  • Appointments and schedules may be kept electronically on the computer, physically on a calendar or both.
  • Pull out any necessary client paperwork or artwork on file for the appointments scheduled that day.
  • Ensure the proper paperwork (electronic or otherwise) is completed and on file prior to the clients arrival.
  • Assign daily tasks to individual employees. You, as shop manager, will probably take care of most of the financial aspects, scheduling and ordering, but there may be other duties that you hand off to other people.
  • This includes cleaning the bathroom, taking out the rubbish and sweeping/mopping floors. As a shop manager, you may do these extra tasks yourself or assign them to other people.

How to manage a Tattoo Shop –  Skills:

Managing a Tattoo studio and creative people is not simple task. There are no perfect ways to keep everyone happy and productive. But as a manager you have the opportunity to create the ‘big picture’. Be creative in an entirely different way. You get to create an environment that fosters constant communication and freedom to let your team do what they do best.
You might have to get out of your comfort zone to do it, but in the end it will be worth it.
  • Team management skills
  • Time management skills
  • Client relations skills
  • Accounting skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability skills

Tools of the trade:

  • Word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word
  • Spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel
  • Invoicing software
  • Complex production equipment
  • Project and event scheduling applications