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1.4.14 Global Approaches


Global approaches
In contrast, there is a growing shift towards tighter control, and while globally “self-regulation” remains an entrenched part of this industry, recent widespread review of self-management approaches has been influenced by the emergence of greater “state-controlled regulation.”


It is not a surprise that Chalmers has this material upside down not having access to first-hand experience, and besides, other than some things I have written there are no articles or books or internet sites that try to pull this information together from those who actually participated as more than just tattooist, tattoo shop owner, or traveling the convention circuit. There are few who have had a large enough contact with the entire industry over an extended period of time to have an opinion more likely to be based on greater general knowledge of the entire tattoo industry.

To the contrary, T&P have forced governments to regulate, not the other way around.

As I have just shown T&P has been pressuring states to license, regulate and reverse the criminalization of tattoo for decades. Chalmers intimates and guides the reader into thinking that states are the drivers to institute change whereas it is T&P that has been forcing states to enact legislation. States and municipalities are not changing their tune because they want to do the right thing, they are being dragged into court and forced to recognize that citizens have Charter and Constitutional rights. Another false Chalmers' argument. Fast forward to paragraph 18 where Chalmers writes the contradiction:

Key stakeholders responded overwhelmingly in favor of more stringent measures to govern such practices…(p 105) 

There is no “growing shift towards tighter control” but rather, as I have said before, and in spite of the constant repetition in this article, citizens sued states to legalize and overturn the criminalization of T&P which forced States to write regulations. Chalmers is spin. It is not a “shift towards tighter control.” That’s not what is going on; it's people demanding their rights, the same way other groups, such as women and other minorities had to force governments to recognize their rights. It would be preposterous to describe those efforts as originating from governments' desire to grant them freedom and equality.

This distortion is followed by Big Brother “self-regulation” in double-speak.

Here, the term “self-regulation” is used colloquially, a person-in-the-street-meaning: T&P supposedly sets their own rules.  But in Part 3 she switches the definition declaring that T&P are not “self-regulating” because they do not meet the basic requirements to be considered self-regulating:  they are not “working under a mutually agreed set of rules” and “there has been no industry-wide enforcement.”

Notice that Chalmers is doing her best to discredit T&P as if the government has been working on these issues leaving governments with the task of determining the best way to control this “18th-century-sailor-like” unruly mob. The spin is exposed.

It is not revealed, but surely known, that states, such as New York, have not exercised their state right to issue state-wide regulations, not because they are negligent, but there is no justification for creating such a beaurocracy. The State of New York allows counties and municipalities to make their own rules if they see any local need. In the same way, and for the same lack of cause, the FDA finds no compelling health reason to regulate tattoo inks but have abrogated that to the states. Many states then pass that to local jurisdictions. Some states, counties, and municipalities have the option to make laws or not.

As such, advocates for the right to conduct tattoo activities, citizens, have worked to overturn the laws prohibiting tattoo: prohibited by governments. This is represented as a failure, whereas it is the greatness of the Federalist system that prevents a select minority from imposing their views to abrogate the rights of others.

From this it can be seen that there is no “shift towards tighter control” but the opposite, citizens demanding licensing and regulations, demanding their rights.

Secondly, who, and where is this “widespread review of self-management approaches” going on. As you read the list below you can plainly see the spin. These new laws were overturned by citizen action, not state concern for the health of the public.


This trend can be seen in the management of the tattooing and body piercing industry in the USA, where, although there is not one universal system for managing or monitoring the industry, significant changes to the level of state-regulated activity over the past few decades is evident. Indeed, Armstrong (2005: 39-40), in citing the work of Goldstein (1979), Stauter (1989) and Tope (1995), notes:

“Over the past 25 years, there have been many documented changes nationwide to the regulations regarding body art, especially tattooing.

    In 1979…only three states had standards or inspections in their regulations, and seven states prohibited tattooing…Many states (n=36) did not report any statutes of any type, although 10 of those states reported local tattoo ordinances in their larger cities.

    By 1989, 16 states had statutes of some form, requiring either licensing of the studio or licensing of the artist, while 31 states and the District of Columbia still did not have regulations.

   As of September 2003, 34 states have regulations for both tattooing and body piercing. 39 states for tattooing only, and 35 states specifically for body piercing…While the language varies, state-wide regulations commonly address the definition of body art, the procedures needed for sanitation and sterilization, procedures for single use items, competency requirements for personnel, infection control, client records and retention, preparation and care of the body art area, and the enforcement measures and prohibitions related to the services.” 

“In 1979…only three states had standards…” which is meant to illustrate how lacking in oversight T&P was. This is deceptive. Do the math: she says 36 states reported having nothing.  Subtract 36 from the 50 states leaves 14 states having some kind of law. Add to that states, though having nothing state-wide, had cities with ordinances which means 24 states had regulations not 3.

Lets look at an example: in 1979 there were only 2 places to get a tattoo in the entire state of New York: near Albany upstate and on Long Island. (source: Angelo Scotto, Champion Tattoo, Bronx, NY) Most of the  counties and municipalities across the State of New York had no regulations. In NYC it was made illegal as well as in Nassau and Suffolk counties. If there was no tattooing in other cities, there were no regulations. This was the pattern across the country. In 1979 there were 200-400 tattooists. Today there are 20 to 30,000 tattooists and the perception, not the reality is being milked to control and slow T&P down.

This is not negligence by States but the realization that without a public health problem, general local laws already in place are adequate to protect the health of their communities. And it worked.