SUDBURY -- Some Sudbury-based tattoo artists say that the demand for their services is high since they turned the lights back on in June.

Allowed to re-open his business under the second stage of the province's reopening plan, Martin Bourgeois says that much of his cliental was as eager to see him as he was to see them.

"We definitely were about two or three minutes into the premier's live feed, stating that Stage 2 would include hair dressers, aesthetics and tattooing, and all of our phones started ringing," laughed Bourgeois.

It's not quite business as usual, though Bourgeois said not much has changed compared to many other businesses. Those in the tattoo industry have always been focussed on high cleanliness standards.

"The only difference is now we're restricting the flow of clients" said Bourgeois. "So where usually we could have half a dozen people sitting in our lobby, we're now restricting it to just the cliental that are being practiced on."

Naturally social setting

While he isn't stressed about it affecting his bottom line, Bourgeois said limiting the number of people inside at one time is a loss to the experience, citing the deeply social nature of tattooing.

"I think that 30 to 40 per cent of our cliental is walk-in basis," said Bourgeois. "It's a great way to attract new cliental, whether they're coming in with a friend and just watching and kind of getting a taste for it, or there's somebody that's shopping around, it's always easier to do that in person as opposed to online."

Bourgeois isn't the only local artist seeing an increase in demand. Cory Reist is co-owner of Painful Addictions Tattoo Studio, located in downtown Sudbury. He, too, has been inundated since he got the go-ahead to reopen.

"We were already booked out till the end of August before this pandemic hit, so coming back to it, I've still got my original bookings as well as the past three months that I've got to squeeze on top of all those," said Reist.

He also made the most of his downtime, relocating the business to a nearby location, with room to expand.

"It was an easy transition to do because we had to be closed so I had time to do the necessary renos," said Reist. "As far as expanding, we are hiring at the moment, but with everything going on we have to be careful with interviews with people. We're in no rush to expand but we are looking forward to it in the future."

While these northern-based tattoo artists are describing a resurgence in business, so too is Removery, a company that specializes in tattoo removals.

Tattoo removal

"I think people are valuing themselves more," said Carmen Brodie, the vice-president of clinical operations for Removery. "They're putting more emphasis on what's important to me, what do I really want to do, what makes me happy?"

The company, which operates primarily in the United States with a location in Toronto, said its business is up 30 per cent year over year. Brodie said more people are starting to understand the services they offer.

"Part of what we're all about is to normalize tattoo removal," said Brodie. "There are people -- lots of people -- that have no idea that tattoo removal is a thing and that tattoo removal really works."

After years in the industry himself, Bourgeois said he is confident the industry will adapt to changing times.

"Our industry's always been very resilient," he said. "We've always had to keep up with the times, we've always had to keep up with health board regulations or industry standards so we're a very resilient industry when it comes to that stuff."