Tattoo sales are soaring in the Bay Area after pandemic slump

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Tyler Harrington, a tattoo artist at the State of Grace tattoo shop in San Jose, is the busiest he’s ever been. “I’m currently booked ’til mid-October,” he said.

As tattoo shops reopened and artists went back to work, the industry has seen a resurgence, both regionally and nationally. Data from Square, a financial services company that provides point of sale systems, shows tattoo sales compared with expected demands have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

“After we first reopened, there was a huge boom in clientele,” Harrington said. “A lot of people had time to really think about what they wanted, and people also took that risk of, ‘This really made me think of my own mortality and I want to live the life I want to live without thinking about the repercussions.’”

The Square data shows that, nationally, the number of tattoos paid for using their system in July was twice as high as would be expected based on pre-pandemic trends. In the Bay Area, tattoos were up 20% in July, after being down 73% as recently as January 2021.

We spoke to seven Bay Area residents who got tattoos during or just before this resurgence. See those tattoos and hear their stories in the photo gallery below.

The change that helped bolster the tattoo boom was in motion before the pandemic, though, as the once-fringe art form gained more respect outside of its traditional spaces.





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