Infection (of the mouth) out of Control

I just read, with disgust, the Blog at

I guess no one read the latest Statement issued by the Alliance of Professional Tattooer in the current issue of PAIN Magazine, where they finally admit that there is not any recorded or verifiable record of any transmission of Hep, or Hiv, or Tuberculous, through professional Tattooing.
Not one case has ever been positively traced to a tattoo procedure. I researched this situation several years ago, and have been saying this ever since.

In 1998 we tried to bring this situation into the light of the entire profession and have an open discussion, but the situation was quickly swept under the rug by every single Trade magazine Editor of the time. Not one Son of Bitch would print the truth, or the whole story.

And now, the Situation is coming back on us with all of the force that ignorance can muster. History is repeating its self, Read The Scarlet Letters, especially the letters covering the Great Supplier Debate ;

Recently, There has been a extraordinary amount of talk about Infections and Control. We have all read many statements that have been made by many influential people and then published by many different Publisher/Editors saying that there is an“epidemic” amount of infection going through the Tattoo profession. I have several letters that were written by tattooers that range from 2 to 10 to 15 to 30 years old year experience claiming they get infected tattoos coming into their shop every week that were infected by other tattooers.

When insecure Tattooers say things like, they have infection coming into their shop every week caused by other local tattooers is not true; This type of harassment of ones competition is the most dangerous and harmful statement a Professional Tattooer can make about the Profession, and is totally irresponsible and immature.

If Professional Tattoo Artists and Craftsmen don’t come to a profession wide consensus on the spreading of false rumors soon, Professional Tattooing will become a Profession at risk of becoming illegal again.

There are two different but very serious scenarios happening.

First, lets mention the solution so everyone can see how easy these problems can be solved.
What is Consensus decision making?
Consensus decision-making is a group decision making process that seeks not only the agreement of most participants but also the resolution or mitigation of minority objections. Consensus is defined by Merriam-Webster as, first, general agreement, and second, group solidarity of belief or sentiment. It has its origin in a Latin word meaning literally feel together. [1] It is used to describe both general agreement and the process of getting to such agreement. Consensus decision-making is thus concerned primarily with that process.

First and most importantly we need to come to a consensus on how the Professionals of different influences, such as the Administrators of the Alliance of Professional Tattoo (aka; APT), and the Leaders of the National Tattoo Association talk to the Enthusiasts and Professionals about infection and Control.

The Truth about the situation needs to be discussed in two places that are Open to the Public. Seminars sponsored by leading Professional Organizations, and Articles published in respectable and respected Trade Magazines.
We need this Publicity because there are some things that are currently being taught in Seminars and published in print that are not accurate. EXAMPLE; Promoting “Plastic sleeves” as Prevention Control, and the promotion of Antibacterial Solutions as common cleaning solutions, are an example of the over promotion of common sense cleaning techniques.

The drum beat about infection(s) being out of control is beginning to overwhelm common sense, and influence the common people who are both our Clients, and the local Health Authorities who have authority over our Health Permits.
If irresponsible people, especially professional Tattooers continue saying these infections exist, when in fact they don’t exist, we will not be allowed to continue to monitor and control our selves, or stay in business without greatly increasing our expense. This increase in expense will not contribute to improving tattoo art, or get rid of the Scratchers these rumors are intended to harm.

Calling the Health Department on the other guy has been going on forever, well at least as long as there has been health regulation. Twenty one years ago this past August, Sue and I were thinking about opening the Susie M’s Fine Tattoo Studio in Salt Lake City. There were only 2 shops in town, ASI and Living Art Studio, Sue and I were friends with them both so we were able to talk with both of them. We knew they disliked each other but we didn’t know to what depths they were stooping to get to each other.
When we went to get the regulations from the Health Department, the Director informed me that he had already submitted the paper work to the City Council asking that they, the HD, have permission to stop issuing health permits for tattoo shops because the Tattoo Shop Owners were using the Health Department inspectors as a weapon. Every chance those guys got, they called the Health Dept. on the other Shop and complained that they had given some one an infection. Of course the Health Dept. had to respond and inspect the other guys shop. And there is was, TIT for TAT.

And now 21 years later. Same scenario, different people, different day, history repeating its self because we can’t talk to each other (until now) and the professional Associations and the Trade magazines are afraid to let us talk.

If we allow this hyperbole to continue and perpetuate, the conundrum we find the profession in today has the potential to blow up and destroy the entire Tattoo Profession as we currently know it.
Over reaction, by any local Health Department any where to this situation, will send us back 50+ years, or maybe into a permanent Ban for the rest of our natural lives. Once Health regs are passed outlawing professional tattooing, you won’t reverse that rule for at least 3 or 4 Generations. Just look at how hard it is get tattooing out of the industrial zone.

If you make your living doing tattoos, Spend just 5 minutes thinking about how it would be having to become an underground tattoo studio operator in order to practice your art or craft.

Right now, Professional Tattooing is a form of -unrestricted – free speech. But tattooing may not be free speech if there becomes to much of a health risk to the People. Even if there is not really a health risk at all, if we continue to allow every one to yell – INFECTION – when there is none, we will undoubtably draw the attention of the Local Health Authorities, and they may stop indorsing health permits on the grounds they need to stop everyone from yelling FIRE/INFECTION when there is none.
The HD have to investigate every untrue rumor. Checking out these rumors and accusations are very expensive, and much like the Fire Department responding to a false alarm. False alarms cost everyone. If we don’t shut up and we create enough fear, Eventually the City/State may say we are a public nuisance and revoke our right to do business.

It is against the law to yell fire when there is none, for a very logical reason! Because the risk of causing harm to the people or the establishment is too great, when there is no need to panic.

We need to apply that same reasoning to all the undue rhetoric about Hep. HIV, Tuberculosis, and Staph infections running out of control in tattoo Studios through out the Profession. These infections are not happening. Not even in the studios that are operated by the inexperienced and want-a-bee tattooers.
Tattooing is just not that dangerous, it is much harder to get an infection than some people wont everyone to believe.

But, if infections are happening in your area/Studio maybe you should look at some common sense that has been applied to many Hospitals and Health Clinics around the World.

It is now common sense amongst cleaning experts that Antibacterial solutions are not the best solution for all cleaning situations.

One should limit using antibacterial cleaners to only the most contaminated surfaces and only on special occasion, like phones, keyboards and occasionally the trash can.
In place of antibacterial cleaners, use common cleaners like Bleach, Alcohol, Soap, Pine sol, Water, and other mild but effective cleaners.

And as far as those plastic covers for machines, clip cords, etc. We need to STOP putting so much emphasis on the use of plastic sleeves. I have argued this situation before three Health Boards and they all agree. Plastic covers are a cleaning technique, they insure almost nothing against the transmission of infection or disease.
They all agree If there is bacteria or virus on your tattoo equipment, no amount of plastic will clean the problem off the surface. Every surface that a tattoo recipient may come in contact with needs to be CLEANED before use. Plastic may be convenient, but it is not the solution and should not be depended on to provide or PROVE the sanitation a professional tattoo environment requires.

If you do not clean your machine, Clip cord, table, power supply controls, drawing tool, ink bottles, phone, Your chair, their chair and anything else that was handled during the course of the tattoo procedure after you remove the plastic sleeve, you are not cleaning your environment.
If you think Plastic Sleeves will protect you and your Client you are absolutely wrong. Plastic sleeves make cleaning the surface under them easier, that’s all. Plastic does not insure a covered surface will not be contaminated.
Cleaning your equipment between and before use has always been the proper method and standard that has protected the Tattoo Profession and our Clientele.
Long before a tattooer ever began using plastic to cover our tattools, we knew how to clean them. A proper Apprenticeship will teach that cleaning happens after and before every tattoo procedure. Plastic is a cleaning tool that may make cleaning easier but does not negate the need to clean the surface under the wrap.

New Skoolers did not invent, nor have they reinvented the Tattoo Profession, they need to stop talking like they did.
Cleaning is still Cleaning and only happens if you do it. If you are having a problem with infections, then you are not doing your job.
And stop telling Enthusiasts what to look for in a professional studio.

But most importantly. Do not Spread false rumors concerning infections and the Tattoo profession just to control or stifle your Competition.
You are killing yourself, and taking us all down with you.

Support the Art of Tattooing – Buy Professional – Buy Local

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