Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Body Art gets a boost in Washington.

May 3rd, 2009 by

A bipartisan group of state senators led by Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, pushed through a measure to regulate the body art industry in the state of Washington. Senate Bill 5391 recently cleared the Legislature and is awaiting Gov. Chris Gregoire’s signature.

This bill brings Washington up to par with the many other states that have passed legislation to regulate the body art industry and make our beloved art safer for the client. It’s about time, too. For many years the art has been unregulated in Washington because detractors have claimed tattooing to be an art form, and as such should not be regulated.

Well, Tattooing is an art form, as we all know, but it is a very special art form. No other art form has a canvas as unique as the human body and it should be common sense that when dealing with a living canvas the artist would know about the importance of sterilization. Most licensed tattoo artists that I know take the subject of sterilization very seriously and do everything they have been trained in to ensure the client’s health. The only people who usually have a problem with things like this are scratchers.

In fact two Washington tattoo artists; Steve Adams, owner of Painted Flesh Tattoo in Kennewick, WA, and Kody Flannery, 23, who recently started his own tattooing business, Cascadia Tattoo Co., have gone on record in support of the bill.

“It’s a decent idea to ensure the safety of clients,” said Steve.

Kody Flannery stated, “It’ll get some of the riff-raff out. Not everybody plays by the rules. It needs to be regulated.”

Funny. I hear the same thing from most every trained artist when the subject of regulation comes up. Even I, who hates government intrusion like a plague, have to agree. Our art is special, and as I said before, it is not something that just any Tom, Dick, or Harry can do. Laws such as this are the salvation of tattooing and will ensure that future artists are the respected, and highly trained professionals they are intended to be.

One point to the bill that I do take issue with is that it requires a mandatory inspection of the business every two years. I’m sorry, but that is just not enough. Perhaps the best inspection routine is where the studio has a mandatory inspection at least once a year with a surprise inspection that can occur at any time in-between. When I tattooed in Tennessee we never knew when the health inspector would show up, or how often. Although we never worried about it because we put the client’s health first, it turned out to be a good thing. Quite a few “grand-fathered in” scratchers went down in flames because of those inspections.

My kudos to the Senators of Washington for passing this bill, and to the governor as soon as he signs it into law. Once that happens the wheat will be separated from the chaff, and Washington will get a far better class of tattoo artist.

Peace out, Gang!

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