Booked and booming: Tattoo businesses in San Antonio seeing uptick in appointments this year

Some tattoo shops in the area are booked several months out

SAN ANTONIO – After an economically and emotionally stressful year in 2020, things are starting to return to normal. For area tattoo artists, the business is booming.

Jeffrey Riddle has been getting tattoos since his early 20s. He has four, but now at 31-years-old, he is finally committing to the leg sleeve of ink he has always wanted.

Riddle is a communications consultant, and he said he was fortunate enough to keep his job and work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said his time at home has helped him think about his life.

“It gave me a lot of time to think and to make lists of what I wanted to do. And this tattoo was one of them,” Riddle said.

Riddle isn’t the only one who decided to get some more ink after the tumultuous 2020.

Tattoo artist and owner of Nostalgic Ink Nina Alvarez said the pandemic forced them to close for about two months last year. She was already booked four months out, and she said people just kept booking their appointments.

“About February, March, April of this year... I went from six months to a year in just a little bit of time,” Alvarez said.

She thinks the uptick in appointments is for multiple reasons. Alvarez said tax income season is always a busy time for tattoo artists, and she believes stimulus checks also played a role.

Alvarez said people aren’t just getting tattoos for purely aesthetic reasons either.

“It’s very therapeutic, and a lot of times when they do come just because they want to put art on their body, it turns into a therapeutic session,” she said.

Alvarez said she believes tattooing gives people a safe space to be themselves, similar to bartenders, but more intimate.

“We’re telling sober stories too, so that makes a difference. There’s a lot of times where we’ve talked about getting a therapy license as well because that’s typically what happens,” Alvarez said.

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About the Author:

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.