While I’m away, I thought I’d post up this fantastic piece Loz Turlington wrote for me a while ago for the petition for regulating the sale of tattoo machines I set up with Matt Hughill at Tattoo UK. The petition, of course, was unsuccessful (aren’t they all?), but this piece of writing is such an awesome piece of work by Loz that I thought I’d post it up on here for you all to read. This is the second time this week Loz has been on the site, I’m really spoiling you guys! Make sure you check out Loz’s feature on the Bizarre Ball from a couple of days ago!
The feature is pretty big, so I’ll edit it down a lot, and give you guys a link to the full piece. You should read the full piece, there’s a lot of great information in there, and it’s a great read! Thanks again, Loz, you’re a star!
What is meant by the term ‘scratcher’? Simply put, it is a tattooist who flaunts the laws laid out by the Environmental Health Office and Local Authorities. They will usually tattoo people from their home, which is unregistered and therefore is not subjected to inspection by the Environmental Health Office. We must remember, that it is not illegal to tattoo from your home, it is illegal to be unregistered.
Let’s face it, a lot of people have no idea what is meant by the term ‘scratcher’, that is because most people will either have one or two tattoos or none at all. Those of us with a passion for tattoos remain in the minority; we are subjected to disapproving looks and comments because of our lifestyle choice. We put up with this because we have a love of what we are and we are not afraid to show it.
Those of us within the community are aware that, as in all trades, there are both good and bad tattoo artists, it is down to us as the customer to check portfolios, get recommendations from other people and to use our common sense. It is, after all, a permanent mark that is being made on our bodies.
What Laws are set in place to protect those who don’t have knowledge that only comes with having a passion? Or maybe a better question is, What Laws that are set in place are actually followed through? The Police do not have any inclination to go and chase a conviction for one man and his substandard tattoo equipment, operating out of his kitchen. The Environmental Health Office have no real understanding of the tattoo community, how these people are supposed to bring order to chaos when they don’t appreciate or understand what it is that they are dealing with, I don’t know.
The apprentice/mentor relationship has been in existence for some time now and has always proved itself to be the best way to learn the tattoo skill. Unless there is some raw artistic talent to begin with, then there isn’t much for a person to go on from. Previously an unsuccessful apprentice-seeker would have honed their artistic talents and proved themselves worthy of an apprenticeship or would have gone onto do something else.
An apprenticeship will not only teach a person how to set up/maintain a machine and tattoo a person, it will teach them the importance of hygiene laws, waste disposal, infection control etc, a mentor will be able to judge when their apprentice is ready to tattoo and will be on hand to offer guidance and assistance should the apprentice need it.
It is nice to see that not everyone is out for the money, but specialist tattoo suppliers are evidently not the only ones with access to this equipment and as such equipment and courses are being sold on eBay with no policing.
Scratchers make the lives of decent, hard working tattoo artists that much more difficult, because they probably don’t declare their earnings from tattooing to the inland revenue they are able to offer cheaper prices. But, with every tattoo they do they are gambling a person’s health and well-being. The risks of HIV and Hepatitis are extraordinarily high and are still seen as synonymous with tattoos, this attitude is not likely to change unless the Laws regarding the sale of Tattoo equipment is revised and enforced.
Trade only equipment should not be available on any auction site for any trade, unless they are asking for proof of registration and employment. It seems to me that these online auction sites have started something and have not thought it through properly.
We all want to see the image of tattoos improve some more; enabling scratchers via eBay and other such places is not helping our cause. We all need to band together and show the powers that be, that we are not just a bunch a prettily decorated people, we are people with opinions and passions and all we are asking for is a little respect to be shown towards the art that we love so much.
I think this is fantastic, thank you very much Loz! You can read her full piece on our old petition site, here.