Tattoos are seen by many as works of art and one of the ultimate forms of creative expression. If you are a practicing or aspiring tattoo artist, or an entrepreneur with a deep appreciation for tattoo art, opening a tattoo shop in Florida is a good idea. Keep in mind, however, that Florida's regulations for tattoo artists are quite strict--they will be your biggest hurdle when it comes to starting your business.
Get practice creating tattoos by apprenticing under a licensed, experienced tattoo artist. You will need to pay whomever you apprentice under an agreed-upon fee. Apprenticing is not required, and you do not have to take any art or drawing classes to become a tattoo artist. Alternatively, scout out talented tattoo artists to work in your shop.
Find a medical doctor or dentist that is licensed by the Board of Medicine to provide you with “general supervision.” In Florida, no one can lawfully tattoo someone unless this requirement is met. The medical professional supervising you will give you and your staff a semi-annual review and quarterly training, but he will not need to be in the shop from day to day.
Develop written procedures with your supervising medical professional regarding safe tattooing practices, after-care counseling of clients, and treatment of problems that may occur during the tattooing process.
Make copies of your shop's regulations, and keep them posted in your shop and on file for employees. You will need to show proof of regulations if asked by the Department of Professional Regulation or the Board of Medicine.
Apply for a license to tattoo with the Department of Professional Regulation after you have secured a medical professional to provide your shop with supervision.
Find a space to lease for your tattoo shop that is at least 600 square feet. Such a space will cost you between $750 and $1,100 per month. Your location should be in a secure area, but also one that is easily accessible. Downtown areas and locations near college campuses are ideal for tattoo shops.
Buy tattoo equipment from a reputable company such as King Pin Tattoo, Superior Tattoo, or Tattoo Hype. Plan to spend about $3,500 on supplies for each tattoo artist, which include tattoo guns, ink, sterile needle packs, sterilizing spray (you can get the spray from a professional beauty-supply store), sterile gauze, and disposable gloves.
Launch a website or informational blog that contains information about your licensing, training, prices, policies, hours of operation, and contact information. It is also useful to include tips for potential customers about how to prepare for getting a tattoo, what to expect, the risks, and how to care for their tattoo.
Make a portfolio of you shop's best work and display it on your website, in addition to having printed photos available for customers in a bound notebook. This can provide inspiration for customers, but it will also show them how talented a tattoo artist you are.
Unless your employees are working as independent contractors, you will need to get employer identification numbers (EIN's) from the IRS website. In addition, have employees fill out I-9's ensuring they can legally work in the United States.
Do not try to tattoo anyone in Florida unless you are licensed and under the supervision of a medical professional. If you get caught tattooing without a license, you will be charged with a second degree misdemeanor.