Doubling in UK tattoo studios ‘thanks to surge in DIY-tattooists and unscrupulous owners’ – but they’ve ‘run out of skin’

DIY-tattooists and ‘unscrupulous’ studio owners have been blamed for ‘doubling’ the number of UK inking parlours in a decade – but experts warn they have ‘run out of skin to ink’.

The nation had 1,637 tattoo parlours in 2014 yet stats show it boomed to 3,394 last year – a surge of 107%.

However, a study by BoldData claims 2024 has seen the rapid expansion stop and begin to reverse – and for the first time in a decade the number has started to decline.  

John Foster, secretary of the British Tattoo Arts Federation (BTAF), blames some of the boom on a surge in ‘unscrupulous’ non-tattooists opening studios for the money to be made from hosting and training ‘naive’ beginners.

They say the availability of cheap equipment and training online has flooded the industry with DIY-tattooists to the point where studios were overstaffed.

They’ve warned the dip in studio numbers is a warning that the market is ‘saturated’ and is filled with artists who leave the trade early when they realise there’s not enough work.

John said: “My view is that many studios were opened by non-tattooers because they saw, sometimes falsely, that there was huge amounts of money to be made.

“They opened then overstaffed the shops with newcomers to the trade who were finding it easier to obtain knowledge and often-inferior equipment from the internet.

“Also unscrupulous tattooers have been charging vast amounts of money to the naive to teach them.

“All this absolutely saturated the trade and so many artists working in studios that were overstaffed couldn’t make a living or worked without paying taxes.

Picture credit: Kennedy News and Media

“Tattoo studios and artists reached saturation point and now it is stalling or falling until it levels out.

“The amount of new artists who come into it then fade quickly away is not good for the trade as no long-term experience is being built up.”

London has the most studios with a whopping 289, while Manchester and Birmingham follow behind with 157 and 58 respectively.

The UK is third to Germany and the USA in the global rankings and is home to 8 per cent of all studios in the world.

For more information on the study, please visit –  

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