Coronavirus: What has changed?

Written by IYNK

Coronavirus is impacting almost every business sector in profound ways. The tattoo industry was struck particularly hard, alongside beauticians, as they were some of the last commercial premises that were allowed to open after lockdown.

We spoke to Aron Cowles (@aroncowlestattoo), artist and owner of A Fine Tattoo Establishment, the acclaimed tattoo studio in Stratford-upon-Avon.

“Closing down for 4 months was so surreal. The worst part of lockdown was not knowing how long it would last, making it more difficult to communicate with new and existing clients. We used the time well, freshening up our studio, creating designs, and drawing as much as possible.

Unfortunately, I think the government showed a huge disregard for our industry in letting Hair Salons and Barbers go back to work before Tattoo Studios, despite our shops being some of the most hygienic places around.

I think online consultations and bookings were already very prevalent in our industry and coronavirus will have pushed things even further in that direction.

We in the Tattoo industry now face the same dilemma as the rest of the economy. The balance of keeping people safe and healthy against the financial impact of a second lockdown.”

Aron Cowles

Renowned London based tattoo artist Rakhee Shah (@rakheeshah) echoed these thoughts.

“Adaptation is key to any business and I feel that although the virus has put many limitations on all industries due to the nature of how we work it has also inspired some to push forward and adjust their ways of working and reaching their clients. Sadly as it’s a close contact service the daily operating of the studio has to be adjusted.

As with most industries, digital marketing has become key to increasing your reach with clients. For some, it’s an unnecessary evil but in order to move forward adjusting to the way the world is moving is vital.

If there’s a second lockdown I fear it will change a lot in the industry especially tattoo conventions in the future. We may need to get used a new ‘normal’ but we will do our best to work as we did during the first lockdown and continue producing artwork at home and hope all the arts and cultures can survive the storm.”

Rakhee Shah

It is not just the artists and studios that are having to evolve their businesses. Jam Sakhawat, CEO and Founder of Butter Up (, one of the UK’s leading tattoo aftercare products, had this to say about the impact the pandemic has had on his business:

“The initial lockdown period saw my sales drop to almost zero due to uncertainty among consumers and tattoo shops closing. However, Since the lockdown being lifted, sales have been stronger than ever, to the point we sold out completely in the first week of tattoo shops re-opening.

Luckily, Butter Up is extremely accessible online, that’s where we see most of our sales and we have a solid base of repeat customers now. So I’m sure we will tick over albeit on a smaller scale. We will also market the fact that our aftercare is for prolonged use, not just the initial healing period. I don’t expect things to be as strict as before, the economy couldn’t handle it.

I’d like to see the payment process for tattoos move from cash only to digital. A lot of artists were hit hard by being cash-based sole traders, so weren’t able to get much government help. The world is digital and tattooing is lagging way too far behind. Digital payments will open up more opportunities for people wanting to finance tattoos, which are a high ticket purchase”.

There seems to be a general consensus that the digitalisation of the tattoo industry is essential if it is to continue to flourish in the new decade. Instagram has kick-started this trend, however, the complex algorithms and lack of specificity in terms of discovery, results in an imbalance in reach and opportunity, particularly for the smaller artists and studios.

Our goal at IYNK is to revolutionize the digital space, level the playing field, and offer the consumer more choice and freedom than ever before.

Oliwier Rynkiewicz (@olivierldn), a London-based tattoo artist at Camdens hottest tattoo studio, Boys Don't Cry, and one of the first artists to sign up with IYNK shared with us his views.

“More and more of the work will be booked online and we will have fewer people browsing through the physical flash books in the store. Is it better or worse? I don’t know - different for sure. I signed up to the IYNK app last month, they are very user friendly and it has already served its purpose - connecting Tattoo Artists with Tattoo Collectors. Bookings are easy and the app lets you safely process the deposit payment as well! 10/10”

Olivier LDN

Here at IYNK, we are committed to providing as much support to the industry as possible, we have extended our free Pro Membership scheme for all new artists and studios, and are working tirelessly to think of new and innovative features to keep the tattoo industry thriving in the UK.

It is important to adapt, get creative, and most importantly, remain positive. Yes, times are difficult for everyone but there will always be a light at the end of this seemingly long, dark tunnel. Studio owner Alex Alvarado (@alexalvarado_tattoos) had this message of hope for us.

Alex Alvarado

“Coronavirus has been a rollercoaster ride for Santo Cuervo. On the plus side, it gave all of us a much-needed break from our busy routines, which lead to a Renaissance of sorts. With more time came more creativity, more artistic freedom which led to more tattoo designs, drawings, and paintings. We were all very lucky to receive government grants which minimized the financial impact and overall stress. Most importantly, it allowed us to miss tattooing and reminded us how lucky we are to have the careers we have.

A second lockdown would be a new rollercoaster. Rumors are that the financial help from the government won’t be as generous, so financial stability would be put to the test. The nice work rhythm we’re currently enjoying would come to a sudden halt, but it would lead to new artistic opportunities as we experienced before. The optimist in me would like to believe that a second lockdown would show the severity of the situation to the non-believers and non-compliants, which would help put this strange episode of our lives to bed and finally move onto better and safer times.”

Well said.

If you have any questions or would like further information on any of the topics raised, you can email [email protected]