Tattoo shops see increased demand as customers get ‘memorial tattoos’ to commemorate loved ones

Updated: Mar. 23, 2021 at 8:31 AM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - After experiencing a loss in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local body artists are getting back on their feet with their busiest time in nearly two years.

This is partly due to an increase in memorial tattoos, as many customers are buying body art to commemorate loved ones who died during the pandemic.

Artists are seeing everything from angel wings, hearts, and names, to more unique tattoos representing a tough year.

“We’ve been doing a lot of memorial tattoos,” said Jon Perkins, owner of Electric Baboon Tattoo. “Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of friends who have passed away from this, as well as a vast majority of people in America. There’s the occasional person who does 2020 with toilet paper, some funny stuff, but a majority of this is just memorial tattoos because people have lost loved ones.”

Stimulus checks and tax season are also driving forces behind an increase in business for tattoo parlors.

With clientele averaging between ages 18 to 25, many young adults are using their stimulus checks and tax returns on tattoos and piercings.

“We really function mainly within the 18 to 25 demographic. That’s our heaviest client base and most of them still live at home so that stimulus check is 100% theirs,” explained Perkins. “So they want to go out and spend it. They don’t have bills to spend it on and stuff like that.”

Tax season typically brings in heavy revenue for tattoo shops.

After missing out on last years tax season, Amarillo business owners say this recent boom in business is helping them survive after experiencing revenue loss during the lockdown.

“Watching our savings slowly dwindle down to nothing was really discouraging,” said Matthew Berry, owner of Music Box Body Art Studio. “We’ve been so busy...just everybody’s glad to be out of the house and getting back to normal. And, of course, tax season and stimulus checks have helped out a lot. Hopefully within six months to a year we’ll be back to recovering and hopefully like nothing ever happened.”

Perkins agrees, saying it will likely take his shop a full year to recover from pandemic loss.

“Everybody’s tired of shopping on Amazon, they want to physically touch something and go out, so we’ve been a lot busier because of that...but we were shut down for three months. People seemingly think that just because we’ve been back in business we have recuperated that loss,” he explained. “There is a long time to recuperate three months of loss. It’s going to take nearly a year to recuperate that.”

Governor Abbott’s mandate no longer requiring masks has also helped the body art business.

Prior to the mandate, body artists could not pierce or tattoo anything underneath the mask. Now, they are seeing an increase in oral piercings they could not preform before, such as lip and tongue.

“The health department strongly urged us to not do anything below the mask, so we drew the line at the nose,” explained Berry. “When the mandate was lifted on the 10th, that’s when we went back to doing celebrate the mask mandate being lifted,we ran a special and we noticed a definite spike in lips, tongues, and oral piercings in general.”

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