Increasingly states and municipal governments have been imposing quite a few regulations for the tattoo and body piercing industry. Are these rules and regulations really necessary? Tattoo shops have been around for hundreds of years, why would we need to start regulating them now?
Types Of Regulation
There are several different types of restrictions the government imposes on tattoo and body piercing shops. There are basically two categories these regulations fall into; regulations on tattoo artists, and zoning regulations on tattoo shop locations.
Tattoo Artist Regulation
Many existing and proposed laws regarding the tattoo industry focus on the actual person applying the tattoo.
In Iowa… A tattoo artist must be certified by the state (nothing more than another fee) and have completed either high school or have a GED.
In Hawaii… A tattoo artist must be licensed which requires a test at the local health department consisting of roughly 70 questions, including questions on microbiology, sanitation, and definitions for terms that they provide. There is no real test of tattooing procedures, so as long as you get the answers correct, you’re a tattooist.
In New Jersey… The Tattoo And Piercing Regulation Bill is 18 pages long and requires, among other things, that a tattoo artist have at least 2000 hours of experience, submit 10 photo’s of tattoos they have performed, and provide evidence of completion of a blood borne pathogens course.
In Maine… You can become a tattooist with only $100, the only restriction is that your shop will be inspected once a year.
As you can see, with the exception of New Jersey, that most of these regulations don’t tell you a thing about the prospective tattooist and the only real difference between being a hack job and a real tattooist is a piece of paper that funds more government.
Tattoo Shop Restrictions
Mercer County, IA banned tattoo shops completely when tasked with inspecting them. When the state mandated the inspections Mercer County’s answer was to just do away with the service completely. What would happen if they needed to start inspecting day care facilities or churches?
Many municipalities throughout the United States have regulations on tattoo shop locations. Some require tattoo shops not exist within X amount of feet from a school, church, etc. This restricts “Joe Tattooist” from opening a successful business that is in no way illegal or immoral. He would be paying taxes just like Kinko’s down the street and adding to the diversity of the neighborhood, not bringing it down.
My Personal Thoughts
Thomas Jefferson once said “That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.” I’m a strong believer in that statement and I don’t think that tattoo artist or tattoo shops should be restricted because they are not mainstream enough for lawmakers.
The industry polices itself quite well and has since it’s inception. A poorly skilled tattoo artist will soon run out of customers and the guy down the street that is actually engulfed in his job will pick up that clientele.
I don’t see a problem with requiring a tattoo artist to have a blood borne pathogen course or something similar, but the general direction of these laws is simply money. Fees for licensing and permits feed government pork.
We don’t need more laws and we shouldn’t restrict a small business because it’s not “Chucky Cheese”. If you don’t like tattoo shops, don’t walk in the door. We don’t hunt “mainstreamers”, plus we only come out at night…