Since the conception of tattooing, it has had a long–standing existence in many cultures, from the etymology of Polynesian tribal cultures to the progression and adoption of these practices by the English sailor culture, where they would refer to the practice as ‘pricking, painting, or staining’. Tattoo culture has long been in place in Europe even before these sailors had traveled to the coasts of Polynesia but throughout the ages the tattooing culture has perpetually revived itself, adhering to our innate drive to mark and colour. The definition and usage of the word ‘tattoo’ was not even applied until sailors introduced the word from their Polynesian cousins in the 18th century. It may be because of the application of this art being utilized by what would have been seen as outsiders; the foreign tribe’s men and the rough and ready sailors that gave tattooing a taboo and mysterious cultural undertone. Due to this representation of the tattoo culture, there were never any universal safety procedures and standards until our knowledge of the possible health and safety implications of unregulated tattoo parlours began to grow.
Fortunately our overall knowledge of the possible health implications that result from an unregulated environment has increased. Due to the fact, that tattooists require breaking the skin barrier to ink their designs, there are a number of factors that can endanger the client undergoing the procedure. If the environment is unregulated and does not follow modern health and safety procedures, this can result in infections occurring or disease being transmitted; such as HIV. Having regulations and a universal tattoo license helps prevent bad practices that may harm their customers and damage the reputation of the tattooing culture within that area.
Is Getting a Tattoo License Compulsory?
This can be a more complicated matter than one would think. It is safe to say that the tattoo establishments themselves are very closely monitored and are required to have licenses as well having to pass health & safety checks.
But it is with the tattoo artists themselves, that is where the complications begin. In many countries and city’s it is unlawful to practice tattooing without the associated tattooing licences, although it is possible in some cities, that the governing body of that city only requires the business to have an overall license. It is possible that individual tattooists, albeit few, are going unregulated, and this may result in a drop in maintaining standards that are there for your and the customers safety. Let’s put it this way, would you let and unregulated tattooist work on your body?
If you wish to have a fulfilling and progressive career as a tattooist, obtaining a tattoo license should be one of your primary focuses. Not only does it show your customers and future employer that you are capable and competent,
having a license also portrays to the customers that you are reputable, this can only improve the business of the tattoo parlour you work for and minimize any complication in the future due to you proficient training.
For example, in the United Kingdom, tattoo business and tattoo practitioners must both be registered and approved by the local council. All persons that are carrying out ear piercing, tattooing and electrolysis must be registered and approved by their local authority; this is required by law by the ‘The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, Part VIII’.
Getting a license all depends on where you wish to practice your craft, but a license and the proper certification to prove you can tattoo effectively and safely should be your goal. Even if you practice in a destination that allows you to tattoo without certification, if you decide to relocate again or apply for a more prestigious job, you won’t even get your foot through the door unless you have the proper documentation or if you have practices with an ill-reputable tattooing parlour.
What Certification Will I Need To Authenticate My Tattooing Ability?
Depending on where you have chosen to practice tattooing, many countries have different guidelines and procedures in how to obtain certification to prove you can adequately perform at your job to a professional standard.
In the United Kingdom, to authenticate and register your tattooing ability and status, you must register an application and a fee of £28 via the premises owner and then wait for the local authority to send an inspector to the premises you will be working at. If the inspector deems the following factors to be appropriate in conjunction with the state of the premises itself, then the registration will be approved:
The inspector will check the competency of all persons carrying out body art procedures, he will check if the relevant infection control course has been attended and if this course certification has been recognized by the local authority. He may even highlight that a refresher course needs to be conducted every five years.
You employer must also have full records of your qualifications and registration of the relevant professional association; the courses attended with the exact dates, and the titles of the courses you undertook and finally the venue name. This is not only for your employer benefit but also for the local authority inspector, so these files must be given to the business owner and kept on site at all times.
In the United Kingdom, they also wield a single standard of health & safety procedure that must be adhered to by the premises owner and the’ individual’ practitioners. All applicants must ensure that the procedures, facility and equipment used are safe, hygienic and prevent the spread of diseases, while also fully complying with the general duty of care required by the health and safety at work act 1974.
When the health and safety inspector is conducting his search, he will look to see if any ‘overall’ that may be worn by the tattooists are clean and in good repair, he will also take note of the practitioner’s nails and hand hygiene and whether they wear gloves. The application of dressings and ointments maybe watched to see if the tattooist is applying the correct methods. The inspector will also take note into whether the tattooist has sole use of the washing facilities which must provide hot and cold running water, soap or any other similar cleanser.
The inspector will monitor every aspect of your procedure and conduct a full vetting to see if you are appropriately educated to hold a tattooing license,
Some cities may not have such a rigorous system in place, but it would be most intelligent of you to adhere and prepare for a system like this, so you’re ready for any cities tattoo licensing procedure.