FILE PHOTO: MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA Although the District has abandoned some proposed regulations, tattoo artists are still fighting proposals that remain on the table.
Although the District has abandoned some proposed regulations, tattoo artists are still fighting proposals that remain on the table.

Spontaneity is still possible in D.C. tattoo parlors, but District tattoo artists are still pushing back against proposed regulations to the industry.

The D.C. Department of Health has eliminated the 24-hour waiting period for tattoos from its proposals for city tattoo parlors, following pushback from tattoo artists on the regulation. Some tattoo artists, however, are protesting the remaining regulation through petitions opposing the revised DOH proposal.

Mason Hogue, a tattoo artist at Embassy Tattoos in Adams Morgan, said that the proposed regulations are unreasonable, since the regulations include stipulations that are not economically feasible, according to tattoo artists.

“It’s almost as if they Googled what not to do and put all that in their proposal,” Hogue said.

Hogue, who moved to D.C. recently from California’s Bay Area, said that D.C. should look to cities with longer histories of tattoo regulations, such as San Francisco.

In July 2012, California enacted the Safe Body Art Act, which mandated that tattoo and piercing parlors register with local governments and participate in yearly health and safety training. The legislation also barred tattoo artists from charging less for tattoos by shirking on safe, quality equipment.

“San Francisco’s regulation is pretty spot on,” he said.

Matt “Fatty” Jessup, the proprietor of Fatty’s Tattoos and Piercings in Dupont Circle has begun circulating his own petition in opposition to the proposals.

“The second draft of regulations is filled with bizarre rules that are impossible to comply with and demonstrate an incomplete understanding of body art practices,” Fatty wrote in the petition.

He highlighted three major problems stated in the second proposal draft: the requirement that tattoo artists use hollow needles, which he said do not exist for tattoos; prohibition from using supplies not registered in the District, even though, according to Fatty and Hogue, there are no registered tattoo supply manufacturers in the District; and the requirement that all tattoo parlors hang a warning sign, listing a contact number for customers who believe that “have been injured at this establishment.”

“This is ridiculous,” Fatty told the Washington Examiner. “They’re trying to scare our customers away.”

As of Monday, the petition has 1,442 supporters.

“Clearly they don’t understand body art practices or the equipment we use,” Fatty wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Additionally, the new proposals call for stricter regulations on waste disposal practices.

Hogue said that while some parts of the law were appropriate, they were washed out by the overly stringent regulations on areas like garbage disposal, as stores have to keep their garbage inside to be approved as sterile.

“One, that is just an unnecessary practice that needs to be implemented, and two, more business or retail locations cannot provide that kind of space, and especially with the rat problem in D.C … To store food, garbage and stuff like that indoors would create more problems than it would protect the customer,” he said.

Both Fatty and Hogue believe that tattoo artists should be more involved in the policy-making process.

“I think having the input and expertise of the body art community is essential. That’s why myself and others in the D.C. body art community formed the D.C. Coalition of Professional Body Artists,” Fatty wrote.

Students who have gotten tattoos while at Georgetown spoke positively of their experience in parlors.

“I went to Jinx Proof on M Street. They had excellent customer service,” Marlene Cox (COL ’16), who has a tattoo of a black feather on her right foot, said. “They talked me through the implications of my chosen placement, size of the tattoo, duration of the procedure, and after care.”

Donald Kim (SFS ’16), who has a tattoo of a Bible verse in Italian, also went to Georgetown’s Jinx Proof.

“They were very cool and awesome. When I went with questions, they were very helpful, they answered all my questions. It was very efficient, and he was very kind,” Kim said.

Though unfamiliar with the proposed regulations, Cox was pleased that the new regulations at least removed the 24-hour waiting period.

“As a rule, parlors never service anyone under the influence. The 24-hour waiting period would only serve to protect the parlor from a lawsuit, I would imagine,” Cox said. “I would not want a 24-hour waiting period. It feels too much like a rule that people unfamiliar with the culture of body art would try to put in place.”

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