July 18, 2019

my van: Tattooist Tim Bailey and his 2011 Citroën Relay

What do you do? 

I am a tattooist with a fully equipped and registered mobile tattoo studio. I can take it to people who may not otherwise be able to get a tattoo – I have tattooed disabled customers who physically cannot get to a studio. It also means I can go to customers at a time and date that suits them best.

How did the business start? 

I have been a tattooist for over 15 years and my dream has always been to have my own studio. I came up with the idea of a mobile studio, with the initial idea being a caravan! After further research, I then decided on a van.

How long have you had it? 

I have now had the Citroën van for two months and I am really pleased with my choice. It is comfortable to drive and the working area is spacious.

Where did you buy it and who maintains it?  

I found the van online and bought it from a scrapyard believe it or not! He’d taken it in as scrap purely because of its age, yet it was in great condition and flew through the MOT. I keep it well maintained using a local mechanic in my home town, as I prefer to support local business. The vinyl graphics and the materials used to convert the van into a studio were sourced from local businesses too.

What did it replace, or is this your first van?  

My first van was a Mercedes Sprinter, which I was able to buy for just £2,000, and it cost a further £2,000 to kit it out. I needed to keep costs down initially as it was a new venture.  Two years on and the business had taken off more than I could have hoped for, so I decided to update the van, this time going for a Citroën Relay.

What made you choose it?

Size-wise it had an advantage over the Mercedes, being a foot wider. It is a high top version which gives the necessary head height for customers – and as I am 6’2”, head height is important for me too!

Does it have any special features or conversions?

Yes – I did the conversion myself with the help of family and friends. In line with environmental health rules, the floor and walls are washable. There is an industrial vinyl floor and the walls are clad with white upvc. The tattoo chair is the main feature and I also installed cupboards to hold tattoo stocks. There is a hand washing station too. Working space is important as both the customer and myself need to be comfortable! A tattooing session can last up to eight hours (not for the faint hearted!) so comfort is key.

How long will you keep it? 

I intend to keep this van for a number of years, as there was a substantial amount of work involved converting it into a studio. If the business continues to grow, I will look to expand by having a second studio on the road. I will take on an apprentice tattooist whom I will train, and they will then run the second studio independently.