Health Officials Investigate Illegal Tattoo Operations
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - While the tattoo business is booming in Middle Tennessee, Metro Health officials are warning customers that some illegal operations have opened up in the state.
According to officials, the number of new tattoo artists has more than quadrupled in the past five years. In order to open a tattoo parlor in Tennessee a number of steps have to be taken, including getting a license and a permit from the health department.
The steps are part of a state law that long time artist Ben Dixon helped lawmakers draft in the 1990s.
"There is a danger. You have to be educated and people have to know the right things to be doing otherwise they risk infection," said Dixon.
The state requires artists to train under a licensed artist and take a course about blood borne pathogens. Health department inspectors like Tommy Eubanks and Clint Johnson visit each tattoo parlor in Nashville four times a year. They also investigate complaints of unlicensed tattoo artists.
Metro Health Officials have received some complaints about some tattoo artists not following the law. One illegal artist even advertises his work on Facebook.
On Wednesday Eubanks and Johnson went to investigate the complaints received about the artist who posts on Facebook. He was accused of running an illegal operation out of his home.
When confronted about the operation, the man said the statements were false and that he did not have equipment and was not tattooing out of his apartment.
"Nobody's not getting no tattoo," said the man.
The inspectors showed NewsChannel 5 copies of the tattoo work they believed the artist created on a Facebook page called Tennessee Tattoo. The artist took down the page on Tuesday.
Health inspectors said people should be careful anytime they get a tattoo. If precautions aren't taken, a person could end up with more than just bad artwork.
"You can get HIV, AIDS, Staph, any number of diseases from someone," explained artist Ben Dixon.
Metro Health Officials said that complaints about illegal tattoo operations are not that common in the mid-state. They only see about two or three a year.