Macon area tattoo shops may be held to higher standards

New regulations on body art might be changing the way tattoo artists and piercing artists have to do business.

The North Central Health District is discussing the regulations tonight in a public hearing.

"It's not big changes, just slight modifications," explains piercing artist, who goes by Dred, at Beyond Taboo Tattoo.

This business that's all about modifications might have to be making some to their rules.

"People want to do more and more things," says District Environmental Health Director, Carla Coley. "There was a need for the existing rules meet the demands of the industry."

Coley says some changes include higher sterilization standards, sinks at every station, skill requirements for apprentices and only certain kinds of jewelry. Changes in materials and construction mean higher costs.

"When the prices go up, people go underground," says tattoo artist of sixteen years, Ray Carlisle.

He says that is the bigger concern.

"Anybody down the street with a cell phone and WiFi can become a tattoo artist now," Dred notes.

"People tattooing kids sitting at a kitchen table or in a hotel room," adds Carlisle.

They have seen a rise in what they call tattoo parties, or amateur artists doing unlicensed work. Beyond Taboo Tattoo says they do not have to make too many tweaks, just things like moving some sterilization equipment into a separate room and discontinue certain types of jewelry.

Carlisle says some shops, on the other hand, would have to completely re-do their sewage and drainage system, according to the rules. They could have to reconstruct their building to include more sinks or private rooms. Dred thinks educating people about the right way to get body art would be a better use of time and money

"Requiring large changes without large results when we have large problems," he says, "Seems a little misguided."

Coley agrees that the underground artists pose a worse health threat.

"As with anything else that's not done legally, she says "It's not always done in the light.."

But they cannot regulate what is not licensed. For now, they are looking to put the finishing touches on Bibb County standards, even if some think it's a pain. Coley says in the vote Monday night, they are keeping the rules the way they are but with two additions. They added in that they would be partnering with law enforcement to enforce the changes, as well as make an joint effort to find the unlicensed artists. Also, they decided to reduce the mandatory wall height to about six feet.

Follow Karli Barnett on Twitter @KarliBarnett


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