What Is A Private Tattoo Studio?

When I first started getting tattoos, I was confused when an artist said they worked out of a ‘private studio’ on their Instagram page. Is it an invite only kind of set up? Are they still safe to get tattooed in? But really it’s pretty simple.

A private tattoo studio is an appointment-only private space where one or more tattoo artists work out of. They’re still licensed tattoo studios, but you usually won’t be able to walk in off the street and get a tattoo without an appointment. 

How is a private tattoo studio different from a normal tattoo studio?

A normal tattoo studio will usually have a traditional storefront on the street. You’ll see a sign for the tattoo studio, opening hours advertised, and there might be flash in the window to give you an idea of some of the tattoo styles on offer. There will usually be multiple artists working, and a front desk with a receptionist. You can walk in straight off the street and get tattooed there and then if an artist is available, or make an appointment if nobody is free.

A private studio is different. For a start, you usually won’t see them on the high street or a sign advertising where to find them. Most of the time you can’t get a tattoo in a private studio without an appointment, so a walk in won’t be an option. Instead, you’ll need to book in directly with an artist by sending them a message on their preferred platform.

Why do tattoo artists have private studios?

Tattoo artists can work in private studios for a range of reasons.

The biggest advantage for a tattoo artist is usually financial. To work in a traditional high street studio, tattoo artists will have to pay a percentage of the income from each tattoo to the owners of the studio. Private studios tend to work differently, as the overheads are lower and the artists will usually pay less shop fees (or none at all if they operate the private studio themselves).

Tattoo artists also might prefer working in private studios because they don’t want to deal with walk-ins, or work around lots of other people. Private studios allow tattoo artists to work in a quieter environment, with more flexibility over the hours they work. 

Is it worth going to a private tattoo studio?

Your absolute priority when deciding where to get a tattoo should always be the quality of the artist. If you love an artist’s work and they work in a private studio, then it’s definitely worth getting tattooed there.

However in my experience, there are some advantages of getting tattooed in a private studio if you suffer from anxiety.

Less people around

The biggest advantage is obviously the relative lack of people.

Some high street tattoo studios can have multiple artists working in there at once. If each of those artists are working with a client, and some of those clients have brought people with them, there could be upwards of 20 people in the studio at once. This can be overwhelming, and make an already stressful experience even worse. 

In a private studio, things tend to be far more quiet. I’ve been tattooed in private studios where it was literally just me and the artist – the whole atmosphere was way more chilled, and I really enjoyed it.

It also means less distractions for the artist, meaning they’re less likely to get interrupted when tattooing you. I always hate when someone interrupts an artist while they’re tattooing me, as I find the stop start approach makes it a lot more painful.

This can be particularly important if you are getting a more sensitive or intimate area tattooed and would prefer to have less people around.

Flexibility with hours

While high street tattoo studios will usually be limited to rigid opening hours, artists working out of private studios have more flexibility about when they work. For example, you might be able to get an appointment on a weekday evening after you’ve finished work, which is very rare for conventional studios.

High quality work

Realistically, a tattoo artist can only work out of a private studio if they have enough demand to fill their books without the support of a traditional high street studio, so you can usually rest assured that the quality of their work will be good.

Are private tattoo studios more expensive?

This is completely dependent on the studio and the artist.

Like I said, artists who work in private studios are usually in high demand, which means they can charge higher hourly rates. I usually find this is worth it, due to the quality of the work, the speed at which they tattoo, and the added benefits of getting tattooed in a private studio.

However this can go the other way in some cases – due to the money the artist is saving by working in a private studio, they may be able to charge their customers less.

How to locate a private tattoo studio

One of my biggest anxieties is over going to new places. I like to research exactly where it is beforehand, which includes finding it on Google Maps, going through the route on Street View and planning where I’m going to park. I hate getting lost and avoid it at all costs.

This is usually pretty simple when you’re going to a high street tattoo studio, as there will be a storefront you can find and a map listing for the studio. Private tattoo studios can be harder to find, because they can be contained in bigger buildings, and won’t necessarily be visible on Google Maps. They might not even have a ‘front door’, so you could turn up to the address and not even see where you need to go.

If you’re going to a private tattoo studio and you’re unsure where it is or how to get in, the best thing to do is ask your artist. They’ll be able to tell you where to go, the best place to park, and how to get into the building if it’s not obvious. I’ve been to private tattoo studios where I’ve had to phone/message the tattoo artist to let them know I’m there, so they can meet me outside and walk me in.

Can a private tattoo studio be in someone’s house?

No, a private studio should still be in a dedicated space, not somebody’s house. Somebody tattooing out of their house is most likely a ‘scratcher’ – an unlicensed amateur doing tattoos illegally, likely not following safety procedures and putting out poor quality work. Don’t be fooled by scratchers claiming to run ‘private studios’ out of their homes.

If you are unsure about a private studio, ask to see the tattoo licence for the property. This is required by law regardless of the type of studio.

Hopefully that has told you everything you need to know about private tattoo studios and cleared up any confusion. Some of my best ever experiences getting tattooed have been in private studios, and now that you know exactly what they are you can get tattooed in one in confidence.

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