The Thick Skin Of Eric Rignall & Inkstop Tattoo – NYC

The act of tattooing is known to have been common in human culture for centuries – since at least Neolithic times. Tattoos have many reasons behind them, including but not limited to: a rite of passage; a mark of fertility; a pledge of love or devotion to a religion or loved one; a brand of status, rank, imprisonment; for protection; and even as a badge of honor. The meaning or symbolism behind a tattoo can be different in any culture. With so many reasons behind tattooing its stands to reason that tattoo shops/businesses would be quite prevalent in the modern business market.

One such tattoo shop is Inkstop Tattoo NYC. Since they have been around for over 15 years, we wanted to know their story.

The Start for Inkstop

Eric Rignall is the owner/operator of Inkstop Tattoo NYC. He’s also a talented artist.

“This is my second business. I started this with a desire to be able to do artwork and also make money at it. Before I started Inkstop I went through four years of art school. Then I worked for twelve years silk-screening t-shirts. I had a pretty good progression.”

“Personally, I work in fine line and realism. I try to make my work as detailed as possible. As far as the shop goes, we’re always very professional, mindful of quality, and show none of the attitude common in the industry today. We try to make everyone comfortable and I think that sets us apart a bit.”

“I do all my preparing and drawing ahead of time at home and on my time off. I respect people’s decisions to get tattooed, and I appreciate their confidence, so I’m always working to make sure that they walk out happy.”

While preparing his art is a top priority, it came as a surprise that preparation and planning wasn’t as necessary as you’d think to open a tattoo shop.

“Nothing too crazy went into the planning to be honest. It really was just a matter of setting up, getting open, and finding the right people to work together. Also, becoming incorporated. From there it was about the work and spending lots of time on it. It took a bit to set up, but within a few months we were up and running. We started out small and went from there. I didn’t have a business plan. It started out with just my girlfriend (now my wife) and myself and we just figured stuff out as we went along. We figured out ways to do things more efficiently as opportunities presented themselves. I tried to keep the cost as low as possible until we could make some money back from the startup costs. I did have to borrow some, and I also partnered with someone to get started. This helped quite a bit but I had everything paid off in a few years so that I was the sole owner.”

On finding the right people to work with, Eric said:

“The first step is to make sure everybody’s work was going to be good and good for the reputation of the shop. Secondly, I needed to know they were going to be cool people and that they were able to be friendly with customers. You need to know the people working with you are going to be professional in order to keep everything working professional in the shop.”

The Benefits of the Ink Business

“I enjoy being able to call my own time and take time off. It certainly took a while though, before I could take any time off. I’m still putting in quite a few hours but at this point it’s still nice to have the job security of knowing that I’m not going to get fired. I know that what I put into it I’m going to get back.”

“As with any business there’s always something that is going to pop up here and there to make things difficult, but there has never been anything major that would cause second thoughts or major problems with the running of the business. It’s been pretty smooth. It took a few years to get into a pattern and flow of things, but I’ve been here 15 years so it’s pretty much basic by now. Everything has a formula.”

Besides a few difficult customers throughout the years and the time it takes to run your own business, there hasn’t been much in the ways of professional obstacles to Eric getting to make money by making art – even in the midst of economic recession.

“Luckily we’d been around a while so the recession didn’t slow us down too much. There was a degree of people cancelling but we weathered through it because we happened to be in a city with so many people that there’s always somebody looking to get a tattoo.”

With a great location (which is necessary for any ‘brick and mortar’), and a loyal local customer base, Eric’s entrepreneurial endeavors seemed quite the breeze. When asked if there was anything difficult about the tattoo business (besides requiring a certain artistic talent, of course) he only had this to say:

“The only drawback is that I’m actually so busy I haven’t really had time to paint anything in quite a while. My own artistic interests, aside from the shop, are on hold until I partially retire or retire all together. For now though, everything I’m drawing is for work.”

“Maybe I would have liked a little more knowledge on what to do as far as taxes go, and with what you have to do to set up your paperwork. I have an accountant now and that has been worth its weight in gold. To try and figure all that stuff out on your own is going to be pretty hard. Having help in that way is a big thing.”

Final Thoughts:

“I guess the bottom line is blood, sweat, and tears. You just have to put in a lot of time and you have to really work hard, get to know your customer base, and learn what everyone is looking for. There’s no substitute for hard work.”

“You have to be confident in your product. As long as you’re willing to put in the effort (it can take a few years of sacrifice) anyone can do it.”

To learn more about Inkstop Tattoo NYC, please visit:



About the Author: Daniel Ballard

Daniel is a Writer and Entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder/Main Author/Editor of BossStart and Co-Editor/Featured Author for BossStart's sister site, PauseStart, launching early 2012

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