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Think about your ink

Cobram tattoo artists say it’s time to stamp out inking issues. The Shepparton Custom Bike, Car and Tattoo Show this month also prompted Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone to speak out on industry regulation.

JEMIMA LEWIS January 23, 2013 5:00am

Ren Sommers and Paul Boyd from Ink Me Tattoo and Piercing in Cobram.


Cobram tattoo artists say it’s time to stamp out inking issues.

The Shepparton Custom Bike, Car and Tattoo Show this month also prompted Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone to speak out on industry regulation.

She says backyard tattooists using inferior inks and re-using needles to lower costs are a grave concern.

Ink Me Tattoo and Piercing’s Paul Boyd and Ren Sommers have helped at least six people with ‘‘backyard tattoos’’.

‘‘This is just the tip of the iceberg,’’ Mr Boyd said.

And Mr Boyd says the pair are sick of cleaning up the mess.

‘‘We have to refuse some — they are just too bad to fix,’’ he said.

They are worried about hygiene and contamination, and fear the spread of diseases including Hepatitis C.

‘‘People seem to think that if the needle is in a clean packet, then it’s all good,’’ Mr Boyd said. ‘‘Backyard tattooists don’t have autoclaves to clean the whole machine, which means blood and fluid can get caught and passed on.’’

Mr Boyd has heard some shocking sterilisation practices from backyard tattooists.

‘‘Using a lighter on a needle or boiling something in water on the stove doesn’t do anything,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve heard of dogs running through the house and people smoking inside where they’re meant to be tattooing.’’

Mr Boyd said backyard tattooists used inferior machinery which could, literally, scar people for life.

‘‘Backyard tattooists are using the wrong machine for outlining or shading,’’ he said.

‘‘This leaves you with scarring on the skin, and once it’s scarred there is no going back.’’

Tattooists are regulated under the Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Act.

This legislation states that it is only ‘‘preferable’’ for tattooists to be qualified.

There is also no minimum ink quality standard recognised in the Victorian legislation.

Dr Stone said use of low-quality inks from foreign countries was concerning. She said these inks could contain severe allergens such as nickel, arsenic and lead compounds.

‘‘If tattoo ink is searched on the internet, the components of the ink are not identified. Local tattooists are worried about ink coming from overseas countries where there is very little regulation,’’ she said.

Dr Stone said while the majority of tattooists were following correct procedures, some were slipping through the cracks.

Mr Boyd said people who wanted to get a tattoo should do their research.

‘‘Ask to look at photo albums of their work. Put a bit of consideration into it,’’ he said

Mr Boyd said at the end of the day, the cost of the artwork should be irrelevant.

‘‘Some people are happy with a bad-looking tattoo. Each to their own,’’ he said.

‘‘But really, money shouldn’t factor in the decision for a tattoo — quality and cleanliness are the most important.’’

Mr Boyd and Ms Sommers don’t want customers anywhere getting more than what they paid for.

‘‘Laser removal is expensive if you end up hating it,’’ Mr Boyd said. ‘‘And there’s no cure for Hepatitis C.’’

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