BME’s Big Question #8: Regulation Time

Welcome to BME’s Big Question! In this feature, we ask a handful of the community’s best and brightest piercers, tattooists, heavy mod practitioners and shop owners for their opinion on one question or issue that’s affecting the body modification community. Many, many thanks to all of the contributors.

If you’d like to be a part of future editions, or if you have an idea for an issue or question you’d like to see addressed, please e-mail me.

This week’s topic:

Do you support government regulation of body modification practices? And if/when there were to be regulation, do you think that tattoos/piercing/scarification/etc. should all be under the umbrella of “body modification,” or would you rather they be kept fundamentally separate in the eyes of the law?

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Joy Rumore
I would theoretically support regulation for the sake of client and practitioner safety, but realistically it would be a NIGHTMARE.

It’s hard enough to find doctors that don’t panic at the first sign of a healing tattoo or piercing, let alone those who would be willing to stand up to their peers and condone body modification publicly and THEN be willing to create and support regulations for the industries.

Even if all that did happen, there are the hurdles of politicians and PTA mothers to clear, as well. Or am I being too pessimistic?

Tracy Baer
My guess is that you’re being realistic, Joy. And pessimistic or not, the politicians and PTA mothers are the hurdles that would be the hardest to clear. Well worth the effort, but still a tricky one.

The rules and regulations on tattooing have caused our industry to improve in countless ways just in the last decade. Ever tightening boundaries on what is considered safe and sane in the world of tattooing has caused those of us who tattoo for a career to improve and adapt. In my opinion, those changes have been for the good.

Long gone are the days of tattoos only being for “sailors and whores.” Don’t get me wrong, I still tattoo my fair share of both groups…but, we see a wide mix of people on a daily basis. Church ladies share a couch in the waiting room with gangster rappers while waiting for us to finish tattooing the cop. The surgeon on his day off stops in for a consult on his back piece, while the renegade biker brings his daughter for her first piercing.

And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

There have been many changes I’ve grumbled about over the years, but in reality, it’s the things I’ve grumbled about that have caused my chosen career to become widely accessible to all of those groups, and more. You learn to work around the ones you don’t care for…and find, for the most part, a better way.

John Joyce
I would support regulations if they were made with the support of people in our industry. Too often bureaucrats and health department officials write up the regulations without getting any input from someone in our field. The health inspectors that inspect studios in most places are used to inspecting restaurants. They don’t really know what they are looking for in a tattoo/piercing studio.

California right now is in the process of writing regulations. They met in a few different cities with piercers, tattoo artists, the APP was represented by Steve Joyner, and that is how I feel it should be. That way you are getting regulations that make sense.

Meg Barber
Well said, Tracy.

The idea of regulating the things we do is a double-edged sword. On one hand, rules and guidelines set up and ENFORCED are a wonderful thing, but only when the rules and guidelines are created with input from the practitioners who are professional and on top of their game. I have worked in shops in the past that were about as dirty and unethical as it gets (this was over 10 years ago), but the owner tattooed a health board member and got to make up the rules—that is TERRIBLE. That’s why the autoclave area was also a break room.

Other cities get it right though. In Philadelphia, if I am not mistaken, shops must use internally threaded jewelry for initial piercings. They hit gold when they got Bill Funk to help write legislation.

Of course, the downside to responsible legislation is that it sometimes harnesses what we can do as far as more extreme procedures. The law tends to frown on scalpels, biopsy punches, anesthetics and the like. It’s a cross we have to bear, I suppose: Do we operate within the laws designed to protect the public from the stupidity of people who don’t know what they are doing, or do we break the law because we are responsible and know how to use the tools we aren’t supposed to be using?

If legislation were to go into effect that really, truly protected people—the outlawing of ear piercing guns, the requirement of weekly spore testing for all autoclaves and statims, mandatory bloodborne pathogen training, etc.—then that would be the right start, in my opinion.

John Joyce
Where I live and operate my studio, there are no regulations—other than the state law of not tattooing anyone under 18 or who is intoxicated. I’ve been open for eight years, and worked in this area for almost four years before that. In 12 years, I’ve never seen an inspector, or even heard of one inspecting any studio around here.

I would love to work with the health department or whoever, to set at least a minimum set of guidelines that all studios have to follow. Walk into most studios around here and ask them what a spore test is and when the last time they ran one was? You’ll get blank stares.

Meg Barber
John, being in NY as well, we have NO inspections. We have to hang a sign up that says if you are unhappy or have a complaint, dial 311.

In NYC, where we are, it’s worse than the usual statewide ignorance, I think. There are sunglass vendors doing piercings at sidewalk stands for $30, jewelry included, no age limit. We hear horror stories all the time of the St. Marks piercers doing 14-year-old kids’ nipples and stuff.

Tattoo artists are required to register with the city, get a license, etc., but piercing is totally and completely unregulated. It’s terrifying.

Tracy Baer
I like to think if I were in an area with absolutely no regulations, I would run, not walk, to the powers that be and get started with some input. With a quickness.

This in NO WAY is meant to cause a fuss, or to point fingers, but it’s easier to complain about the lack of (or problems with) regulations if you have no intention of trying to be involved. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but in most cases there should be a chain of command to follow that will lead you to a meeting or an individual with whom you can voice your concerns.

John Joyce
I’ve contacted the health department in the past and was told there was nothing they could do because they just didn’t have the money.

I’ve even had clients tell me that they had called the health department on other studios after having work done there, and were told the exact same thing.

Meg Barber
New York just doesn’t give a flying fig about it. They figure that the people can govern themselves, which is REALLY backwards considering that tattooing was illegal here until very recently because of the health problems associated with dirty tattooing. That’s why the licensing is in place, although from what I understand, it’s pretty useless. Our piercer at our other store has a tattooist license just so he can get wholesale pricing on piercing supplies through a few NYC–based companies.

Funding for such things is very limited here. It’s there for welfare programs and other things, but not there for the general health and welfare of people getting modified. If I was 16 and knocked up here, I’d get the best care, but if I get the hep from a dirty studio? Forget it.

John Joyce
NYC is a little different than the rest of the state. We don’t even have a tattoo licensing process here [in Syracuse]. Although, I have heard that the licensing process in NYC is set up more to make the city money than to actually benefit the general public.

Another big problem I’ve seen is areas that have good regulations in place don’t have the funds to enforce them. Look at Philadelphia. It has some of the best piercing regulations in the country. But, they aren’t enforced at all, and you can walk into any number of studios and get pierced with crap externally threaded jewelry, even though regulations say you can’t use that for an initial piercing.

Meg Barber
True. Money always seems to be best put to use on other programs. Giving everyone who smokes in your city the patch for free is more important I guess.

I asked Maria about the health inspections here in NYC. In 17 years, there has never been one, but about 10 years ago, someone with a fake badge came around and demanded $100 to do an inspection.

Have any of you actually worked with the health departments in your areas?

Derek Lowe
When I lived and pierced in Madison, Wisconsin (’96-’98), I worked closely with the state when they decided to set up statewide regulations. They formed a committee of three piercers, three tattoo artists, a doctor, a public health nurse, an epidemiologist and a few other people. They had a basic template when we started and then we worked on refining the regulations. For the most part it was a pleasant and productive process. The non-practitioners were respectful of what we had to say and in many cases took what we said about our specific industries very seriously. We ended up with what I felt was a decent set of regulations. Unfortunately, I left the state before those regulations went into effect. I can’t speak to how well they are, or aren’t, enforced.

Here in Minneapolis (and they are looking at going state-wide soon), we have a set of regulations that isn’t bad. There are definitely some things that could be improved. The regulations were created before I lived here, but it is my understanding that there was input from at least a few piercers and tattoo artists. Unfortunately, those regulations include bans on branding, scarification, implants and suspension.

I have worked with the Minneapolis health department a fair amount, but they seem to be in the position that most health departments are in: they don’t have the money to do any more than the bare minimum they are required by law. We get our once-a-year inspection (which is okay, but not fantastic) and we don’t see them again unless there is some sort of complaint.

I think the key to good regulations (which I support) is having knowledgeable, ethical practitioners involved in the process from the beginning. It’s much easier to get the regulations right the first time around than it is to try and get them to go back and change things once they are in place.

Steve Truitt
In New Mexico, the laws went statewide late last year—instead of just the city of Albuquerque, like they have been for the last 10 years or so. The laws were written with piercer and tattoo artist input, and there is a piercer and tattoo artist on the board that regulates us (Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists unfortunately).

We have some decent laws, like all shops have to pierce with implant grade jewelry, for example. However, they straight-up told us that they are not going to enforce the laws or shut down any shops that refuse to comply because then they couldn’t make any money off of that shops permits, etc.

It always comes down to money. Even if they didn’t enforce the laws and just sent out a letter or something pretending that they were going to, it might help make a lot of these shops clean up their acts or close down on their own. The stupidest thing they could have done is what they did by telling us that yeah, these are the laws, but they have no intentions of enforcing them because they want to make as much money as possible—and that means giving everyone with $300 a permit even if they don’t meet any of the “qualifications” that the board has set to get a permit in the first place.

John Joyce
I’ve heard that same story a lot—that basically, you send you city, county, or state some money to get a certificate and that is basically it. After that, there is no real enforcement.

I think it’s great that the stories some of you have shared involve meetings with piercers and tattoo artists to set the regulations up, but it doesn’t do any good if they aren’t enforced.

Derek Lowe
I’m not trying to make excuses for health departments or health inspectors that aren’t doing their jobs. I do think it’s important, though, to keep in mind that very few of the people involved in inspecting and enforcing piercing/tattoo regulations know anything about the industries to begin with. So, not only are they being asked to take on additional inspections, and probably for no additional pay, they are also expected to further their education regarding piercing and tattooing with very little, if any, resources (i.e., time and money) being provided by their health departments. Most inspectors are trained in inspecting restaurants, nursing homes, local fairs and possibly hospitals—not piercing and tattoo studios.

Clearly, continuing education is part of any job. Imagine, though, if someone came along and told you that you needed to become familiar with how to do a manicure or a pedicure. After all, those things involve the body just like piercing and tattooing…even though you have no interest in those things. Now, not only do you have to learn that stuff, but you aren’t going to be given any time or money to do it.

I don’t think it’s hard to imagine how much time and effort any of us would put into learning about those procedures.

Ryan Ouellette
I’m terrified of regulation. On the plus side, it would keep some crappy shops less crappy, but I’d be concerned with the state banning procedures they don’t understand. A few years back, New Hampshire tried to ban all piercing because some councilman’s daughter got an illegal piercing. So rather than just making stricter rules, they attempted to outright ban the entire practice. I would love to see responsible regulations in place, but not if it limits what procedures can be done. In the last few years, New Hampshire has actually lessened regulation due to budget restrictions. They can’t afford to inspect shops anymore, so basically everybody works off the honor system, and you can imagine how ridiculous that gets.

I’m sure every body art worker wants reasonable regulations. I don’t think the majority of health departments are educated enough to understand what it is they’re regulating and how best to do so. The double edged sword is that it’s often one individual’s personal opinion that decides what gets a regulation and what gets a ban.

John Joyce
Over-regulation is definitely a major concern, and the possibility of banning certain procedures is part of the reason I’m OK with the lack of regulations we have right now. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to see some reasonable safety guidelines set in place. I think there should be checks at least twice a year to make sure at the very least studios are running regular spore tests.

Derek Lowe
“The double edged sword is that it’s oftentimes one individual’s personal opinion that chooses what gets a regulation and what gets a ban.”

That’s very much true. When I first moved to Minneapolis I was discussing the ban on suspension with the inspector who handles piecing and tattoo shops. I asked her why suspensions were banned and she responded with something along the lines of: “Someone brought in a tape of it for us to watch. Have you seen that stuff?! My God.”

Seems as though they were pretty freaked out by it and so they went the route of banning. I don’t think any of the piercers involved in the process were interested in suspension, so I don’t think they fought it very hard, if it all.

Jordan Ginsberg
Would you rather potential legislation be focused on “body modification,” as a catch-all for piercing, tattooing, scarification, implants, etc., or do you think those should all be treated as separate industries?

Derek Lowe
I think it makes sense for cities/states to address them at the same time, so maybe in that sense they should be grouped together. However, I think it’s important that each discipline be addressed individually to make sure the regulations make sense, are effective and are enforceable.

Tracy Baer
They should absolutely, without exception, be treated as separate industries.

Steve Truitt
The problem is, if they’re treated as separate industries, most people don’t know much about scarification, implants, etc., so if they have to go make separate laws about that instead of grouping it all under a body art law they will most likely just make it illegal.

There are enough piercers, tattoo artists, and mod practitioners together to make up a legitimate presence at a hearing to pass laws about those issues. If they break it up separately there are a lot fewer people in each category and that makes it easier for them to pass laws to regulate us out of business completely.

Most laws for public safety in a piercing, tattoo, mod studio apply to any form of modification as well, so separating them is more of a headache for law-makers, too, which makes them less likely to want to do that. It’s much easier for a lawyer, politician, etc., to say, “Make that illegal” than to say, “Make it legal, but make sure that anyone doing it is complying with this 30 page list of rules and regulations I’m going to draw up.”

John Joyce
I don’t see any problem with grouping them together. Like Steve said, it makes it less likely that they will just make certain things illegal. For the most part, a lot of the regulations would be the same anyway: age requirements, spore testing, autoclave logs, single-use sharps, sharps disposal, etc….

Tracy Baer
OK, maybe I’m talking in an ideal world that they should be separate.

Honestly though, how much in common does tattooing have with any of the things that you all are discussing? Aside from the fact that they both are a modification to the body and that these days they share a building.

Ryan Ouellette
I’m sure to all of us the difference between piercing and tattooing is like night and day. But, to someone outside of the industry, they aren’t going to care. They’re just all things that make their granddaughters look like whores.

Steve Truitt
Tattooing has plenty in common. Like John pointed out, autoclave usage, spore tests, use of gloves, using sterilized single-use needles, disposal of sharps, use of disinfectants, etc. I’d say about 90 percent of the laws in most places could go for any type of modification, and only about 10 percent are specific to any one form of it.

John Joyce
Exactly. There are going to be some specific laws for each, but the most important regulations are going to be pretty universal.

What do you think? Let’s hear it in the comments.

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27 thoughts on “BME’s Big Question #8: Regulation Time

  1. Pingback: BME: Tattoo, Piercing and Body Modification News » ModBlog » New Article Posted! (BME’s Big Question)

  2. I absolutely agree that there should be regulations, but they should be made as they were for Derek Lowe: in a group of modification practitioners, healthcare practitioners, amongst others. They should NOT be made by politicians who don’t know what they are talking about, or care.
    Regulations would really help weed out all of the digusting shops down here in Springfield, MO.

  3. I think there should be regulation, but only to a certain extent. Things like jewelry material, no bullshit hot topic 316L should even be near a shop. Other things such as spore testing, gloves, single use sharps, proper disinfectants. I worked in a shop awhile ago that used rubbing alcohol to “clean” their stations with. They were confused when I put madacide among other disinfectants and tried telling me rubbing alcohol was just as good. I think there needs to be education on things like this. Our local health department(Binghamton, New York) has actually shut down one shop and had a local house scratcher arrested and charged for tattooing minors and one client of his actually had Hep B, but they couldn’t prove it was from the practitioner, who also, may I add, had Hep B.

    It was suprising that the Health Department got so involved with it,but more or less it was the result of a concerned parent and their 14 year old daughter getting a tattoo. On a side note, I think the local pd needs to stop worrying about ticketing j-walkers and kids skateboarding on the sidewalk and worry more about teaming up with the Health Department and bringing down the dozens of known scratchers in my area fucking people up.

  4. I live in Australia and im pretty damn sure that we have regulations that are actually enforced.
    Yes we do have the odd grotty piercing palour that you know shouldnt be open but i was shocked to read the lack of regulations in America….i completely agree with Kristen as well.

  5. wanna hear something funny in my county everything mod wise is illlegal cept for tongue splitting and and suspension

  6. A few rhetorical questions and observations:
    Very much like gun control laws, regulations only affect those who want to follow them, and they put you at a disadvantage. Let me explain- say, for instance, you are a average consumer in an area where body mod is legislated to the Nth degree. Would you assume ALL shops in that area are legit? Say you are in an area where there is no regulation, and it fell on you to do the research. You probably would do the research, and get what you want.
    I, personally, would like to see the industry TOTALLY unregulated in any way, shape, or form. The hacks and DIYers only serve to make me look better. If it was mandated, using state power and the threat of force accompanying it, to force all shops in my area to adhere to PANGEA standards it would make us seem less special, and therefore not worth the money. If implant-grade jewelry is mandated by the state, the customer will naturally assume that every shop has the same stuff and there really isn’t a huge difference. Not to mention, ASTM has no protocol for implantation of glass, gold, niobium, platinum, or palladium, all of which CAN be acceptable depending on the alloy. I would hate to lose the freedom to use what I want.
    Something else…it’s a very slippery slope you tread when you naively approach vampires….err, I mean, bereaucrats, demanding “something must be done”. You tell them how dangerous it is for the untrained to do, the risks and all, and you walk down the road that leads to the type of ridiculous licenses that hairdressers have to have, or, worse yet, doctors. Like it or not, solid arguments can be made for allowing only doctors to pierce, tattoo, and ESPECIALLY do the kind of mods you see here daily. Labia reduction, implants, transdermals, transscrotals, tissue removal, scalpelled piercings, biopsy punches…ALL of these fit legal criteria in most places to have the practitioner charged with a crime.
    How about the fact that, despite certain professional organizations and some individuals crowing about the great regulations they got passed, those same people still have customers who have gone somewhere and got something that was less than good. The fact also remain NO ONE has EVER gotten piercing guns banned. Hell, from what I’ve been told, Florida mandates the use of sterile gloves. You know how half of our shop’s horror stories start? “O.K., so like, I was in Florida…..” So much for that helping. The very organization claiming to be looking out for piercers is responsible for the vast majority of choice-robbing laws affecting us today. Many times I watched a new law getting passed somewhere with a buddy happy with being a part of drafting the legislation, and the heath department wasn’t even looking at us as a priority and had to be talked into action. Was anyone protected (as if you can save someone from themselves)? No. Did the fees, costs, and intrusion into our business increase? Bet your ass.

    Now for the rhetorical questions- given what you have observed about The Almighty State and how it handles every other thing it sticks its snout in, do you feel that they are trying to help people who can’t tell the difference between shops like Obscurities or High Priestess and some place like Jim Bob’s Tat-2′z and Head Shop, or do you think they just want to squeeze us for a few more bucks and make sure our records match what we hand to the taxman?
    Would you even WANT to help the person who thinks there isn’t a difference between Infinite and Philly Ghetto Tat Shack except for price?
    Most importantly, if they rescinded all regulation of the mod industry, would you, the practitioner, do anything differently? Is it The State that compels you to do better, the fear of lawsuit, a desire to be the best, or the fact that your customers (The Market) demand it? If it is the first two, then you fail. If it’s the latter two, then you are on the right track.

    Damn…every time I stick my head above ground, I’m ranting about politics. I swear, I’m more multidimensional than that!

  7. One other point- to the folks that say “regulation is fine, as long as they industry agrees with it.”
    Would your tune change were we discussing, say, oil and gas production? Tobacco? Automobiles?
    Did you notice some people in this industry would be fine shutting everyone ELSE down, as long as it wasn’t them? Doesn’t that smell like, oh, I don’t know, fascism or communism?

  8. depends really where the regulation starts and where it ends, doesn’t it?
    especially thinking in terms of more general, philosophical points, considering the strong re-emergence of transhumanism and related movements. regulations that aim to control which mods can or cannot be done should not even be discussed, as they will (in the long run) only help create a dichotomy between enablers/enabled and those that are not. on the other hand, regulations that are aimed at warranting a certain degree of security to the practitioners will need to be talked about. whether or not these should be enforced to the point of executive and legislative sanctions and reprimands is whole different ball-game and i would be extremely wary about it.

  9. I usually think that problems about piercing/tattoo studios regulations comes from the fact of having “closed mind” people in Health Departments, banning suspensions just cause they think is a horrible act is totally weird and I could even compare it with the ban of any other thing like having too much bars in the same street, is just stupid.

    We all know that tattoo, piercing, scarification, etc have lot in common, but it doesn’t mean they’re all legal, cause procedures varies in all cases, not to mention the fact that things like implants are really invasive procedures, and could be a headache to make the law allows us to do this legally. I also think you must not offer everything you can do in a studio and there’s some stuff that should keep in the underground, I don’t really like the idea of having 16 years old girls coming for navel piercing looking at scarification portfolio with their parents scared about the blood and open flesh, you will eventually lose some customers.

    When I was in Venezuela I made the first project to create the National Tattooist and Piercers Association, as I was studying business administration was easy for me to handle everything with the help of a lawyer, the trouble came when I had “checkings” from the director of the Nursery Career at the university, who refused to help me in a nice way, (she was like 50 years old women), and she found tattoos and piercings really disgusting. I finally went to the city health department, cause the director had a tattoo done at the studio I was working, and I also did a pair of piercings on her daughter (she went to the studio and found it amazing, then we realized she was director of the health department), she made a review of my project and a week later she called me back, and told me that everything was pretty good, but she could not help me to introduce a law, just cause Chavez government was busy with more important stuff… (actually, getting money and give Oil to Cuba is more important in venezuela than nothing else, but we’re not here to talk about politics at all). There are lot of “street cars” selling food in really low hygienic conditions, where you can easily get hepathytis, the risk of a epidemy is quite high in comparison, cause they’re and government doesn’t care.

    Then in Spain I had to pay like four hundred Euros for a “training”, that is basically a kind of license, you have to attend some classes, (3 days, 8 hours per day, LOL) in which you’re suppose to learn basic stuff about higyene, sterilization, desinfection, anatomy, cross contamination, etc. The weird part is that you end up teaching everything in a correct way, cause their theories and practices are crap. They also ask in a test, stuff like: “what you have to tell the customers to use on their fresh tattoos?” and you have to write “vaseline”, otherwise you’ll be fucked, even when they really know there are better options, and they also agree, but in the paper you shouldn’t write it.

    I’m sure I have lot of strange stories about health departments and inspections, too much to tell now, but finally, with laws or not, every practitioner should be responsible of their own practices, if you want to be a Professional, then act like one, no matter how many weekly/montly inspections you will have.

  10. #8 & 9
    The first you get when clicking on the link on your nick clearly states
    “You can’t change the world.
    You can’t change the world but you can change the FACTS.
    When you change the facts you change points of view.
    You change points of view, you may change a vote.
    When you change a vote, you may change the world.”
    Despite the fact that’s always easier to bring up questions than answers, I think what everyone’s discussing here is that regulation on these practices is necessary, as in any other industry/practice to ensure everyone’s on the same page at the time of opening a shop, learning and following the minimal guidelines as to how you need to take care of your business to be taking care of you and you clients, which leads to proffessionalism, which leads to recognition for being a proffessional in an industry that (I think) is still far from being taken as serious as everyone here know it is, which leads to the individualization that you seek among the rest of the practitioners.
    This is not about a governemetn agency telling you which brand to buy, but about a free country that, as any other, can have a lot if things that are wrong, but it’s also where you’re at and, if you want it to be better, then you can’t just sit and hope somebody else does something about it…
    Moonshin’s example fits perfectly here, they sure made a name for themselves (a really BAD one) by being on the news as a shop where customer happily left with a “cool” piercing but anaware that they may also be taking Hep B home.
    I live in Argentina, one of the third-world countries where body mod knowledge and culture is almost unexisting, and even here two projects were presented to regulate the activity: one made by politicians who usually know nothing about anything that’s not the money they can get for approving the next “keep your mouth shut, we’ll just steal some more land from you” law. The other one is a pretty complete project presented by the Argentinian Association of Tattoo Artists and, among others, it requires tattoo artists and piercers to take about 7 different courses (sterilization, pathogen materials disposal, first aid, etc.) that are mandatory for anyone to get his/her license, and it also includes a change in the license the shop has to get to be able to perform these practitions. Instead of needing a regular commercial license, if the project turns into law, every shop that includes any kind of body modification in the services it provides will have to have almost the same standards as a private sanatorium.
    So, I’d say, if you want to be yourself and do as you please just do it, though I’d beg you not to fuck anyone up in the process. With proper laws in place I’d say the same, except for the case that if you DO fuck anyone up, then you’d be inidividualized among the rest of the industry, so you pay for your own shit and not take the rest of us with you.
    Great article, by the way

  11. I think regulation will make it a lot less likely that body modification procedures will be banned outright. Purely cynically, regulation will mean more revenue and more work for state inspectors – they won’t want to let go of such a nice source of income. Less cynically, regulation will mean that when bluenoses start screaming about the sinfulness of tattoos and piercings, the tattooist/piercer will be able to point to a state-approved health certificate in response.

    I do think that the regulations should be made by people who know about tattooing and piercing – not necessarily people in the industry, but people who know the industry. As someone mentioned, there’s a potential for conflicts of interest if the people who are subject to the regulation get involved in making the regulation. They should have some input, sure, but they shouldn’t get to write the law.

  12. I can second what Steve said about New Mexico. In Las Cruces there are 7 shops the Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists have licensed (before they came and checked us out) and there are 13 listed in the phone book. We had inspectors in about 3 weeks ago and only shops that were on the main streets of the city were inspected. We didn’t even get to see an inspector because we are a little off the main drag.

  13. “If you want to be a Professional, then act like one, no matter how many weekly/montly inspections you will have.”

    For tattooing and piercing I think that pretty much sums it up. It seems somewhat redundant for the responsible people in the community to help with legislation, if they are the only ones who are going to follow it, since they were following it in the first place?! It seems like an impossible task to enforce. I would rather see the money go into education – put some seminars in schools and universities telling kids what to look out for in a dodgy studio and put some of the responsibility in the hands of the client in not supporting the hacks. The main problem here is the infinite stupidity of humanity – people who keep practicing knowing they are being unsafe and endangering people’s health, and then the people who go there anyway. Can’t fix that. But we can all do our bit by supporting the shops we know to be reputable and give referrals wherever possible.

    Heavy surgical modification… its another thing. It is SUCH a grey area and is something I am torn on. Part of me thinks it should be in the hands of doctors, even though I know there are a lot of extremely talented and knowledgable people out there peforming these mods amazingly and safely who don’t have formal medical training. But where is the line drawn? I just hope that the desire to do new and cool stuff, and flout the law which is some cases is there for a good reason, doesn’t start to come at the expense of the client’s long-term physical and mental welfare. This, of course, is a completely seperate issue.

  14. I agree that it’s nice to see certain regulations in respect to clients health and safety. I appreciate that at places like Living Art in Co. Springs where I go that they take great caution in making sure that nothing happens that would affect me or my tattoo. However the thought of overly eager and ignorant people getting ahold of what procedures can be done makes me want to vomit.

  15. New Hampshire, as was mentioned, did outlaw piercings for a while. They are still illegal in some TOWNS. It’s not even statewide. One city decided they would allow tattoo parlors, but no piercings. Regulations, in theory, would make things easier, but the abuse of state and local government on tattooing and piercing is already ridiculous. Suggesting regulation would give fuel to the fire that some people already have burning for this industry.

  16. 1. Thou shalt perform medical procedures only for cosmetic purposes in low risk patients, meeting the same standards and using the same techniques and equipment as those licensed to perform said procedures.
    a. All you piercers debriding infected wounds, give it over to medicine.
    b. All you nurses doing permanent makeup, give it over to tattoo shops.

  17. Hi,
    I am in NC currently and heading to Germany in the summer. However I have such anger with the state of NC over our laws on body piercing. I am ashamed of the way things are, the underage girls with vaginal piercing and tattoos. The dirty environment and the fact that everyone wishes to turn a blind eye. I have been point blank told by the health deparment it I preform micro dermals I will be breaking the law. However other studios are offering the srvice ans I have been forced to remove ans document the results…. Is there anything one can do in NC to make things better.

  18. I live in Wisconsin and am HEAVILY modified . . . and have a job with the health department. I would love to go inspect tattoo/piercing shops because I not only work with the department but I know about the industry itself. I am all for regulations as long as they are sensitive to modification culture.

  19. you no the women with the tattoos on her face with the streched lip iv got pictures of her sucking dick lmao if any ones intrested no joke

  20. The person above me is an imbecile.

    That said, I agree with what was said about consulting the practioners BEFORE these guidelines are put into place. A lot of people have prejustice towards this community as it is, and I think that stricter guidelines would just give those people more ammo to aim at the practices as a whole. However, for the sake of safety there must be a few fair, universal guidelines put into place so that scratchers and the like can be stopped.

  21. Hi,

    In Holland they have regulations since June 2007:

    - you need to have permit (inspectors come and check and the permit will be visible on your window so clients know you’re ‘checked’);
    - you need to work safe;
    - no one under the age of 16 may be tattooed or pierced (except those of the age 12 and higher accompanied by a parent).

    It’s a minimum, but it’s a start. As a sociologist and moderate modified person I support these regulations for the sole reason the industry needed them. However, there are a few marks to be made:
    - the regulations gives credit to the secundary economie: artist who work from their atticts, garages and other unhygienic places;
    - some regulations are excessive (ink);
    - inspectors are uneducated.

    As of now, the regulations haven’t been assessed yet so the impact is not clear yet. Point is: we wanted regulations, we got them. But the content is very thin and one might ask in whose benefit these regulations are.

    To be continued.

  22. Honestly, I am all for regulation, as long as the regulations are reasonable. Someone said that regulations make people stupid and stop them from doing their research; I disagree. While it may hold true for some, we shouldn’t forget that those who are acting in a responsible way do their research no matter what.
    I live in The Netherlands, and even tho the laws and regulaions are laid down by the government (in co-operation with national health services), they are reasonable and simple.

    Rules according to the government:
    -No piercing under the age of 12 (parents have to be present) except for lobes.
    -No surface or high risk piercings under the age of 16 (parents have to be present).
    -No intimate piercings under the age of 18.
    -No tattoos under the age of 16 (parents have to be present).
    -If these rules aren’t followed, you will immediately lose your permit.
    -There is a national number you can call in case of complaints, shops not abiding by the rules, or about people working without a permit.

    -You cannot open shop without permit, given by the local health authorities.
    -Before you become eligible for a permit, inspection will check your shop according to the law, and will supervise a set of procedures to make sure you work according to the law.
    -There is a public list of all shops in the country who have a permit and are approved by inspection

    Apart from what the government controls, tattooing is in part also self-regulated. This is done through the Tattoo Union. 65% of all parlors are a member of this union.
    -The Tattoo Union will only give out membership to parlors that are in complete compliance with their strict set of rules.
    -Shops must be clean, work according to the law, and deliver good work to be eligible for membership.
    -Apart from health authority inspections, the Union also performs it’s own inspections regularly. If the standards aren’t met, you will get a warning and a timeframe will be given in which you will have to address the issue. If after this timeframe, upon re-inspection, the issues aren’t addressed, you will lose your membership.
    -If the situation is genuinely unsafe, the membership will be withdrawn instantly.

    The suspension and heavy mod business isn’t regulated, but the few stores that do practise this are widely known shops and practitioners. There is actually one shop in my city where cutting, branding and suspension are practised. This shop has a permit from the health authorities, as well as a certificate from Fakir Musafar’s classes in intensives.

    So in general it’s pretty obvious what the good shops are. However this should NEVER stop anyone from shopping around. If people don’t, or go to some shady character, then it’s their own responsibility. ‘I didn’t know’ should never be an excuse.

    Also, I’d like to note that if someone really messes you up (this also goes for tattoo removal, which isn’t regulated), they can be sued for abuse.

  23. Where I am (NZ) I honestly don’t think we have any laws or regulations surrounding body modification. It means that every shop gets to decide what it wants to offer and what it’s regulations will be. You can get your ears and nostril pierced for $15 with a gun in a pharmacy, or you can go somewhere good. The place I go for piercings (the wonderful Fleshwound) will not pierce you at all without parental consent until you’re 16, and they won’t do ears, tongues, nipples or genital piercings until 18. They won’t brand, scar or tattoo you until you’re 18 either. It’s not cheap to get pierced there, my septum cost me $75 including jewellery, but I’ve never once had a problem with anything I’ve had done there. Where I get tattooed (Rogers) will not tattoo you until you’re 18 either, and Tom won’t let you leave with work that’s not beautifully done. Both places go through a million pairs of gloves, everything is autoclaved and disinfected and they have the most fantastic aftercare. The places that are already good don’t need regulations, the places that aren’t wouldn’t follow them anyway.

  24. First off I believe that people should be able to undergo bm.

    Any regulation against bm should be left up to Private and Public organizations and only effecting individuals who belong to such organizations. ex. Businesses, Medical Professions, Police entities, military ect.

    Further more I think bm- tattoo, piercing, and surgical should be regulated in the same way that cosmetic surgery is regulated.

    Which would allow those who offer bm procedures to acquirer more safety and procedural eduction.

    I. e allowing anesthetics, medical knowledge for surgical procedures ect.

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