Tattoo Regulation Welcome, Artists Say; Back Proposed Rules in Testimony

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 15, 2011 | Go to article overview

Tattoo Regulation Welcome, Artists Say; Back Proposed Rules in Testimony


Byline: Tom Howell Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Tattoo artists told a D.C. Council committee Wednesday they support legislation to regulate their industry for the first time as long as the associated fees and rules do not overburden them.

A quintet of tattoo-shop owners told the Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs that any decent tattoo or body-piercing shop should meet or exceed standards in the bill, introduced by committee Chairman Yvette M. Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, and six of her colleagues.

The legislation would require tattoo and body-piercing artists to register with and obtain a license from the city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. It also establishes minimum health standards for the industry.

The proposed bill contains a clear statement of purpose - to protect public health, safety and welfare, said Paul Roe, owner of Britishink Tattoo Studio and Gallery on H Street Northeast.

He said regulations should be structured to encourage and support the industry standards that professionals already follow every day but not to discourage legitimate practitioners from conducting business in D.C. with overly burdensome laws and unnecessary fees.

Derek Davis, chairman of the Board of Barber and Cosmetology, said the regulatory framework should be handled specifically by his board, as it is in various U.S. states.

The bill prohibits the body piercing or tattooing of a minor without the consent of a parent or guardian, but some shop owners testified that it should require customers to be 18 before getting inked.

In my opinion, minors have no business getting tattooed and making permanent body-alteration choices, said Matt Jessup, owner of Fatty's Custom Tattooz, near Dupont Circle. Just think of the bad ideas and choices you may have made as a minor. And just think if you were permanently stuck with those choices.

He noted that most minors can, with parental consent, get a piercing, then remove it with minimal impact on their bodies. But tattoos are a different because they may morph on the body of a minor who has not finished growing. …

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