Will the Suburbs Welcome Tattoo Artists Back Home? Going Legit

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 27, 2011 | Go to article overview

Will the Suburbs Welcome Tattoo Artists Back Home? Going Legit


Byline: Tara Garca Mathewson tgarciamathewson@dailyherald.com

A little boy once saw a group of bikers who lived up the street giving each other tattoos. Almost immediately he decided that he had found his life path.

At 9, he gave himself his first tattoo, and by 15 he found his way to New York City to apprentice in a tattoo parlor during summer break.

That little boy who has since changed his name to Skeet is in the process of opening his sixth tattoo parlor, the first one in his hometown of Carpentersville since they were banned by the village in 1991.

"I had retired a couple years ago; I thought I was going to get out of the business," Skeet said. "But this is my life. I can't quit tattooing."

Carpentersville first banned tattoo establishments because of a lack of regulation at the state level and, Skeet would argue, personal bias against the shops.

But public opinion has shifted and the Illinois General Assembly passed a law in 2007 requiring the state to regulate tattooing. The health department had its code in order by the end of 2008 and state inspections began in November 2009.

Now Carpentersville officials can't see why the ban should remain.

"It's gone from something that was at one time taboo to something that's mainstream," Village President Ed Ritter said. "We need to change with the times. There is no reason for us to keep out a well-regulated business that is accepted by the public."

The village board changed its codebook in November to allow tattoo parlors and passed the necessary zoning change Jan. 4. The only thing standing between Skeet and his latest business is a lease, which he said he hopes to sign soon.

But opening the latest Bodies by Skeet isn't something the tattoo artist could do just anywhere. Similar establishments are forbidden in many towns, such as Wheaton,

Glen Ellyn and Arlington Heights.

The municipal code in East Dundee says "tattooing parlors threaten the public health and welfare and are hereby considered a nuisance."

In many communities, the laws may be relics of a time when public opinion relegated tattooing to a counterculture. …

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Will the Suburbs Welcome Tattoo Artists Back Home? Going Legit
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