OLYMPIA - A law that requires licensing for tattoo artists, body piercers and their businesses received mixed reviews Thursday from operators of those businesses.
Some embraced the new regulations as a way to improve health standards; others said the rules weren’t needed because the standards already are being met.
Before the law took effect Thursday, the state did not require licensing of tattoo artists and body piercers, said Christine Anthony, spokeswoman for the state Department of Licensing.
Industry licensing requirements had been discussed in the state Legislature before, but finally became law as a way to address public health and sanitation concerns, Anthony said.
Two longtime operators of businesses that offer tattoos and body piercings differed on whether licensing is needed.
Metro Body Piercing general manager Abbie Rose said Thursday that she welcomes the legislation as a way to raise health standards. Metro, in business for 15 years, has a store in downtown Olympia and at Westfield Capital mall, she said.
“I totally support the fact that they are putting legislation in place,” Rose said. She said it might prevent customers from receiving improper piercings or the wrong care afterward that can lead to infection. “We’ve had them leave in better shape than when they came in,” Rose said about some past customers. Piercings have changed over the years. Seven years ago, navel and tongue piercings were popular, but now it’s nostril and ear piercings, she said.
Ray Figueroa, also known as Captain Lu, described himself as the silent partner in Altered States, a 13-year-old tattoo and body piercing business in downtown Olympia. Before the new law, 99 percent of tattoo businesses were complying with basic health standards, sterilizing equipment or using one-time needles, he said. As a result of the expenses, Figueroa thinks businesses will close and fewer artists will enter the business.
“Everybody was practicing basic sterilization,” Figueroa said.
Amanda Knight, a new tattoo artist at Altered States, wishes the state had followed a knowledge-based requirement, making artists or body piercers take a test to receive a permit rather than pay an annual fee.
Under the new law, tattoo artists and body piercers will have to pay a $250 annual license fee, and the businesses will pay a $300 annual fee in addition to regular business licensing requirements. Tattoo artists typically work as independent contractors.
The businesses will be inspected every other year.
The new law also applies to people who apply permanent makeup and other forms of body art. Proof of bloodborne pathogen certification also is required by attending either a two-day or eight-hour class on how bloodborne diseases are spread, said Dawn Haberkorn, a body piercer at Metro.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/bizblog