Support is broad for new law on body piercings, tattoos

March 10, 2004|HERB BROCK

Travis Taylor was sitting in a chair at Studio Ink in Danville Tuesday afternoon getting a tattoo from artist Chad Sinkhorn. While Sinkhorn, wearing blue plastic gloves, slowly guided his tattoo instrument on Taylor's right bicep, Taylor looked as relaxed as if he were at home in a recliner watching TV.

But the Mercer County man didn't look so comfortable when he recounted a story that shows what can happen when tattooing is left in the hands of amateurs. In fact, he almost shuddered when telling the story of body art gone bad.

"My teenage nephew got a tattoo at a flea market in Shelby County from a guy who must've been doing tattoos for no more than a week," said Taylor. "It wasn't long before the area of his body where the tattoo was put started swelling and then scabbing up. And he got real sick to boot."

It is this kind of horror tattoo tale that a new state law which regulates tattooing and body piercing in Kentucky seeks to prevent. And the law is the kind of regulation that Sinkhorn, as well as the local health department administrator, strongly supports.


The law, which goes into effect April 1, will pertain to the piercing of ears, tongues, lips, noses, bellies and other body parts, and also to tattooing. Body piercing in Kentucky has not been regulated in any fashion; however, tattooing has been the subject of some state oversight.

The law, which will be administered by the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, applies to customers and to the people and the businesses performing body piercings and tattoos. Similar laws have been in effect in several other states for some time.

Regarding the clientele, the law will require that anyone under 18 years of age who wants to get a body piercing of any kind or a tattoo must be able provide those performing the service written, notarized consent from a parent or guardian before the procedure can be done. The would-be customer must also provide a photo identification and proof of age.

The law will require that artists and other individuals who perform body piercings and tattoos be registered with local health departments. The annual registration fee will be $20.

In addition, studios and any other place of business where body piercing, including ear piercing, or tattoos are performed must be certified by the local health department. The annual certification fee will be $100.

Local health departments will be offering both artist registration and business certification classes where providers will learn about the law and fill out all necessary forms.

Also, local health departments will conduct inspections.

Studios and other businesses where only ears are pierced will be inspected once a year, such as the jewelry department at Danville's Wal-Mart SuperCenter. Wal-Mart's Georgianna French said that about 200 ear piercings are performed there every month.

Studios and other businesses that perform other forms of body piercings, as well as ear piercings, and those that do tattoos will be inspected twice a year.

Roger Trent, administrator of the Boyle County Health Department, said he is getting ready for administering the new law. He said he doesn't expect the new law will become a burden on his department, the artists and businesses that will be regulated, or customers, including the minors who will have to provide consent forms, or their parents or guardians.

"We're gearing up for the new law," said Trent. "In fact, I sent one of our environmentalists to training (Tuesday).

"But this is not going to be something that requires creating a whole new bureaucracy to handle," he said. "The law is straight-forward, the registration and certification fees are not that steep, there won't be that many inspections, and, when you get down to it, there are only a handful of people and businesses that will be regulated."

Trent believes the new law will protect all customers by weeding out amateurs and will protect young people and provide comfort to their parents and guardians by requiring consent. "I don't think the new law will make that much difference to the professionals in the field of body art and piercing. They, by and large, do things right, like sterilizing their instruments, without being told to," he said. "And I think the part of the law requiring parental and guardian consent is a real positive in terms of public protection. Body piercings and tattooing are very delicate procedures that can be dangerous. It's important that the people doing the procedures are property trained and those doing it are properly protected and advised."

Owners of two local shops strongly endorse it

The owners of two local shops join Trent in strongly endorsing the law. "It's wonderful," said Kathleen Stump, owner of The Hole Thing in the House of Style shop in Danville Manor Shopping Center. "And it's also about time.

Central Kentucky News Articles