Skin Deep 170

Every four weeks I have to sit in front of my keyboard and do the hardest part of my job. That is to write the editorial.

Some months the words just flow as certain key issues within the tattoo industry unfold, other months can be a real struggle. 

This is one of those months where there doesn’t appear to be too much happening in the tattoo industry that stands out as ‘editorial’. Things seem to be ticking along quite nicely in ‘Tattoo Land’. This included some encouraging news about two tattooists based in Scotland who successfully got an unlicensed tattooist prosecuted under the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 and on ten counts of unlicensed tattooing. 

Gaz Valentine and Bill Andrew, both long standing tattooists, got together and managed to get themselves into a council meeting to highlight this contentious issue. Luckily, the press were there who decided got involved as did the police. One thing led to another and the aforementioned arrest was made.

Gaz and Bill’s argument was why should they, as proper licensed and time served tattooists, have to pay their registration fees and go through rigorous health and safety checks when these other individuals can get away with working from home for free with scant regard to personal hygiene and their ‘clients’ safety?

This issue always raises a few eyebrows with shouts from one side of the fence saying; ‘well all the artists you interview all started working from home, why shouldn’t these people?’

The other argument says ‘you shouldn’t give what could potentially be a very dangerous and life threatening tool to just anyone. eBay has already banned the sale of knives from its site, why not tattoo kits and equipment?’

So as with all arguments there are two sides. One; you ban the equipment and sell only to registered tattooists, possibly denying some wonderful artists to emerge; the other is leave it as it is and the industry will fall apart as the government will undoubtedly get involved due to the scarring and infection increase that these home tattooists will create, they will then force all to adhere to their rules and regulations regardless of how stupid, draconian and uneducated they might seem. 

At the end of the day and whichever side of the fence you choose to sit on, home tattooists will continue but with guys like Gaz and Bill who got off their butts and took matters to the correct authorities – and I have heard of many stories from other tattooists who have tried to do the same only to have their requests fall on deaf ears, due to apathetic councils – actually made a difference.

Ultimately, if you are reading this and you see something in the magazine that gets your creative tattoo juices flowing, prompting you to get that next tattoo; please make sure you go to a registered tattooist for your ink. Not only will you be supporting the guys and girls who have worked long and hard to get where they are; but you will get good, clean ink, but you will be helping to keep the tattoo industry healthy and alive.


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