There has been a TON of new tattoo shops opening up in the Phoenix Metro Area, mine included. and more all the time. Kind of surprising considering the economic downturn, not as many people have the money to put into tattoo work. A luxury, I know.
But it seems that there are too many, the market is on it's way to a bubble burst and with an over saturation in tattoo shops, it seems to me that demand will taper off, and as such a lot of these shops will be short lived. Part of it I think, is that a lot of people have gotten into the business for the money and don't have the background that I would expect a tattooist to have - an Art background. Also, too often I hear about poor treatment of the collector and a generally dismissive tone toward those that keep the industry alive, the client and their interests.
To me there needs to be another model for tattoo shops and the artists that work them. Granted, Club Tattoo's "retail" model does really work, but it seems too impersonal to me. For me, the experience of getting a tattoo and everything that goes into it is a very personal experience. I think that just as much attention should go into the collector as does the design and execution of the work. Hence why I call a tattoo collector a Collector, other than a customer, client or consumer. They are commuting to skin, not just their ideas, but your approach and execution as an artist, and how the artist goes about producing the design and helping the collector decide exact placement and all possible considerations will have more than a lasting effect. it's permanent after all. You're tattoo will be with you longer than any job or car.
But as the "old" model of tattoo shops and artists is confronted with newer approaches and more skilled practitioners (as it has for a good ten years now), things will change, and I think the tattoo parlor will continue to evolve toward more of an Art-House kind of environment. Already the stigma is fading, the quality of work is improving and the practice is becoming more acceptable and transparent, not to mention cleaner.
But it's a double edged sword. Anyone can get equipment now which increases the likelihood of getting work by an inexperienced tattooist, and also reducing the prestige and mystery of the tattooist (like a kind of Jedi). Yet at the same time, the doors have been opened to allow other artists a shot, like myself that aren't into the tough guy, gangster, biker kind of character that is commonly associated with tattooists and street shops.
There will always be the people that don't care, and want to pay $10 and a sixpack for a tattoo, and there will always be tattooists that are just suited towards taking care of that end of the market, but for most of us that want to ensure that they are getting professional, clean, quality work from someone who cares as much (if not more) about how that work turns out, the options are clearly growing everyday. And for the discerning Collectors out there, you should easily be able to find a skilled artist in your area, they all seem to be opening their own shops these days. Just like me.