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Friday, November 5, 2010

Scratcher Hotline!

There isn't a week that goes by at Seppuku Tattoo where someone walks through the door with some nightmare that was done out of a house or a trailer that they need repaired or covered up. This is fatiguing to us that this is still going on in the year 2010. There is so much amazing talent exploding through the tattoo scene, there isn't any excuse for terrible tattoos anymore. It should be a thing of the past. 

If you've been the victim of a terrible experience at someone's house, & think there's no accountability because it's someone's house, & not a real business, you're wrong. Each city has a health department with officers willing to enforce current tattoo laws. In Bloomingdale, its this number: Health Officer Peter Correale : Tel 973-838-0778, Ext 237. You can do a web search for health department and the name of your own city & locate the officer in your area. 

We hear a lot of kids trying to justify kitchen tattooing. Illegal tattooing does a lot more than just make everyone look like they were tattooed in prison. It breaks zoning laws, business licensing laws, health department laws, & bio hazardous waste disposal laws. The tattoo industry JUST legalized states like Massachusetts, South Carolina, & Oklahoma. We'd like to keep it that way.

It was one single case of hepatitis transmission that made it illegal to tattoo in New York City. All five boroughs of the city were outlawed from 1961 to 1997.

If you think the idea that ONE bad tattoo could make tattooing illegal statewide, consider this. Tattooing is still illegal today in many cities in New Jersey, like Clifton and Cranford.

Really, we do not care what you do in the privacy of your own home. If you want to get stoned out of your mind & pay some ex con with anal sex so you can look like you were tattooed by Helen Keller with a weed whacker, surprise! WE DON'T CARE. I mean, without your terrible decision making skills, we wouldn't have this cringe worthy website for our amusement:

But we have made incredible sacrifices & dedication to make this business safe, reputable, & legal. Actually, we work hard to elevate the business away from the stereotypes of tattoos being just for criminals & druggies, & up to level of museum quality art, the same as any other fine art medium. We do not want all that work that thousands of artists cross country have sweated for to be undone by one post teen rock star kitchen magician who doesn't want to work a real job.

If you or a friend are thinking about getting an illegal tattoo, let me tell you a few things about what you may be in for.

For starters, doing a 'clean' tattoo at a house is nearly impossible. This is a line we get all the time,... 'Well, I saw he had all his stuff in wrappers!' Yeah? Did he sterilize his house? Rugs, carpets, wood, porous material, these cannot be sanitized. They will hold on to bacteria and viruses for weeks. There is no way to dispose of fluids in any sink that can be considered clean. The atomization of blood & body fluids that occurs during tattooing must be localized, which is why tattoo shops are sequestered into tiled booths built from top to bottom with sanitizable surfaces. This is why clients are never allowed into a tattoo studio's clean room where the ultrasonic & autoclaves are. If there are animals in the house, its impossible to eliminate the dander, saliva, urine, feces, or other body fluids these creatures are going to spread or track in.

That's assuming said untrained, unprofessional rock star has had any level of cross contamination, blood borne pathogens or sterile chain of events training at all. Most have not, & there are no shortage of photos online of tattoo parties that feature 'artists' with no shirts, no gloves, no barrier film, no clip cord covers, no lap cloths, no plastic on chairs, arm rests, stools, tables, spray bottles, lights, or anything else they've been contaminating with who knows whose blood. They do not use single use set ups, & often have one giant jar of Vaseline open to dip into, which is disgusting. Porous materials like towels, blankets, or bed sheets are being used & these items are nothing but portable bacteria farms. (Hell, I saw shots online of one guy working on newspaper.) Often their 'work area' is strewn with food, beer & a big old ashtray, again, not the kinds of things you really want to see injected into your bloodstream. They certainly do not have an autoclave which is required in order to sterilized equipment.

The really gross scratchers are reusing their needles & tubes. Its easy enough to slip used equipment back into 'wrappers'. Looks great, doesn't it? 

Just like safe sex, you are now under serious risk of being contaminated with every disease that every other person who has been tattooed there is carrying. Tattooing is a medically invasive procedure, & you could catch the same diseases you could from unsafe sex, including staph, Herpes, HIV & Hepatitis C. If there are children in the house, they are now exposing their own children to all these germs & bacteria as well.

Let me say that again,... in a worse case scenario, a tattoo done by someone practicing illegally can kill. This is why there are are laws regulating tattoos. 

For second,... where did they get their equipment? True, just about every tattoo magazine runs ads & sells equipment, but there are two things that amateurs are not going to know.

A: Any supply company that is going to ship to a house or private residence is a scam company looking to profit off of scratchers. Their ink is watered down garbage made with plastics, metals & unsafe filler ingredients, their needles were jigged by blind monkeys, & their machines are ratty meat slicers at best. Just as not all tattoo artists are created equal, the same is even truer for so called 'supplies'. No professional would ever use supplies bought from a magazine, & its a running joke to people who know the difference.

Tattooing for generations have closely guarded the trade secrets that make for excellent tattoos. The genuine supply companies will only ship to authorized studios, with legal & current business licenses, & monitored by the local health departments.

B: Without a proper apprenticeship, how is said garage hero supposed to know if he has quality equipment? For all he knows, he's ordered supplies that were made by guys who just got out of prison & are taking him for a free ride, & wouldn't know the difference between a hand crafted original Jonesey Squareback machine, & an electric steak knife. If there is a serious problem, like excessive bleeding, client passing out, an infection, broken lines, spotty shading, busted fills, or just a terrible looking tattoo, how does he troubleshoot the problem? The answer is, he doesn't. He simply has no idea of how wrong things can go, or how to deal with them when they do. 

During a real apprenticeship by a world class master, artists will learn every single aspect of the tattoo process, from the metallurgy of machine frames, collapsable magnetic field theory, electronics, frame geometry, spring tensions, spring cutting, coil winding, machine construction, fine tuning, needle & needle bar making, pigment grinding & ink mixing, sterilization, skin anatomy, skin tension, skin texture, & a complex array of techniques to assure that no damage, tearing, cutting, scarring, or overworking of the client occurs. This information has been handed down for generations & modern tattoo artists dedicate years of their lives to perfecting these techniques. 

All of this should be considered long before you even question whether or not this person can DRAW. Which is another topic entirely. But if you're ever wondering why you don't see a lot of neo-Rembrants coming out of a trailer or winning awards, that's because tattooing is far more difficult than it appears.

Like I said before kids, I'm not trying to tell you what to do with your lives. And, if you really love tattoos, & the amazing art tattoo artists have created, do you really want to disrespect it so badly by keeping it in the basement like a kidnapping victim? But whatever you do, just know that your actions have consequences. It may be as inconsequential as just having a shitty looking tattoo. It may be the reason tattooing becomes illegal again, or stays illegal in places like Cranford. It may be as serious as threatening someone's life with a fatal incurable disease. 

Play hard, but play smart.


  1. AMEN to all of that! I have an acquaintance doing all of the above...his tattoos are horrendous (and can be found on Ugliest Tattoos) and it is upsetting to know that they were willing to put their life at risk for such a HORRIBLY done tattoo.

  2. Thanks for this. I'm going to be sharing this if that's cool with you.

  3. Wow. The news about Cranford is quite a bummer to me, but not a surprise. I am a Cranford resident, and I had been dealing with Robert Hudak about residential construction zoning issues. I may have inquired about tattooing in Cranford, and it is possible that this was introduced due to my reintroduction to the township. I am a long way away about even thinking of opening my own shop, but I feel a bit backstabbed personally. I would have represented at the meeting had I known this was on the agenda. What an insult to link a tattoo business with illegal activity.

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