Idaho needs more regulations for tattoo shops
Tattoos are no longer reserved for sailors, prison inmates and motorcycle gangsters.
Tattoos have become a popular form of permanent self-expression. Although tattoos are no longer part of an obscure subculture, Idaho’s regulations, or lack thereof, regarding tattoos are stuck in the medieval ages.
In Idaho there are no laws requiring tattoo artists to obtain a tattoo license. In fact, tattoo artists don’t have to have a physical location for their business — they can legally tattoo people in their own garage if they wanted to.
Stefanie Slichter, manager of the popular tattoo shop Untamed Art in downtown Moscow, confirmed there is no required license to tattoo another adult in Idaho. The major law regulating shops restricts artists from tattooing anyone under the age of 18 without parental permission.
Slichter said if Idaho required licenses, her staff would all obtain one right away, because not possessing a tattoo license is detrimental. For example, not having a license makes it difficult for Slichter and her staff to compete in competitions held in other states or work in states which require licenses.
In Idaho anyone can tattoo anyone over the age of 18, despite the health risks involved with body modifications like tattoos.
Since tattoos puncture the skin, needles, when not properly sterilized, can lead to the transfer of bloodborne illnesses such as tetanus, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Further potential risks include terrible body scarring and nasty skin infections.
Idaho’s lack of regulations leaves residents who don’t know any better at risk of diseases and of bad tattoos — a mistake someone could regret for the rest of their life.
Idaho should pass a bill requiring artists to have a tattoo license. Passionate businesses and artists would be willing to support this measure to prove to their clients they take their work seriously. Furthermore, potential clientele could stop wondering if their health is at risk while getting a tattoo.
Anyone interested in getting a tattoo in Idaho should do their research and look for professional businesses that take care of their equipment and customers. Check if the shop uses clean needles when they ink and if they possess new equipment. Those getting tattooed should watch their artist open new needles and sterile equipment in front of them.
Finally, look around a shop before you get tattooed. Many professional artists have taken classes on bloodborne pathogens and know how to properly perform body modifications. These artists normally have their certificates available for clients to see.
Idaho needs to be more concerned about the risks residents face when getting tattooed by unlicensed artists and residents need to be more aware about the dangers of tattoos. Take time to be picky about art, artists and where the tattooing takes place before you make the final decision to get inked.
Danielle Wiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org