How To Create Extra Income Streams to Supplement Your Tattooing During the Slow Season

I was introduced to the artwork of Ed Hardy the first time I lived in Japan. Chris Trevino had a pretty good friendship with Hardy and was one of the first people to throw the name out at me as I would sit and watch him tattoo and listen to stories and history. At that time, Ed Hardy was not a brand. There were no clothes, or if there were, they were not widely popular yet. I knew he was famous and revered in the industry, but I had no idea that within the year of me getting back to the states, he would be one of the most popular brands of clothing for the next several years running. I also had to hold myself back from buying a badass jacket with an embroidered Hanya mask by Horiyoshi on the back. After all, I had to make sure that I had the funds to get an actual tattoo by the man. However, I was well aware of clothing then and now in relation to the personal branding of the artists that do it.

Before you scoff and grumble words like “sellout” under your breath, I want you to remember one thing. I want you to remember the winter months where your tattoo work gets kind of lean and you have far less income coming in than normal. This is especially applicable if you are a flash or street shop artist who depends mostly on walk-in traffic over a steady booking of appointments. Now tell me that a little extra cash trickling in from other areas isn’t a welcome thing.

You are a tattooer, an artist. That is who you are and nobody can take that from you. But it doesn’t have to be your only source of income. I’m going to talk to you about ways you can funnel your designs and artwork into products that will bring in extra income. Of course, you have to be realistic; you aren’t Ed Hardy. You aren’t going to have the scale of marketing to reach as many people or make as much as Hardy does, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a few hundred extra bucks coming in to supplement those lean months. In this blog entry, I’m going to give you a list of sites that can help you take your artwork and designs and create small extra streams of income. You’ve already done the hard part of creating. Now go a step further and make a little side income. You never know when it will come in handy.

Café Press:

This is one of the most well-known sites for allowing you to upload your images and have them printed on demand for a variety of products from coffee mugs to t-shirts. There is a little upfront money, but you can set up an entire storefront site. Artists get paid via PayPal.

Redbubble is one my friend Greg uses. It is very similar to CafePress, but apparently friendlier with international shipping. Be careful, Greg said he is often his own best customer.


Zazzle is the site I ultimately went with. I was impressed with the quality of products. It is very similar to CafePress, but no upfront money. You have the option of setting up your own storefront site or selling on their general site. Will let you know how it works for me. In the meantime, I just posted my products with art printed on them. I only have art based on one painting, but I have three more uploaded after this one. Let me know what you think. Check back weekly and I will try to have new products posted.

Wild apple

Wild apple is a print on demand site, but they only do canvasses and artwork. You have to actually apply to post work on this site. You also have to be able to work with an art director.

If you aren’t familiar with Etsy, then you really just need to go and check it out. It is primarily for selling handmade stuff.

My Big Cartel

My big cartel is a site where you can sell independent original paintings. Much like the other products, you can set up a storefront.

Technically, you can sell your clothing and product lines, you can sell a printed reproduction of your art, and you can still sell the original. That gives you three ways to sell stuff. Just be sure and have a good online presence where you can market it.

Are there any other income streams that I forgot to mention? Be sure and share with us and let us know if there are other favorites we missed.

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