SPECIAL REPORT: Inside the ink industry

Watch an artist do an entire tattoo by scrolling to the bottom of the page here.

Martinez, GA (WJBF) – Another day at the office.  Philip Jacobs carrying out his craft, on his canvas.

“I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a business  owner. I’m a tattoo artist.”
Jacobs and his team at Allegiance Ink Tattoo are proud to be licensed professionals.  This piece of paper sets them apart from people who try to do this out of their home, garage, or worse.

“They don’t have the training and techniques to work with the skin,” says tattoo artist Jonathan Pilcher. “Working with skin is totally different from paper. It’s different from canvas. It takes training.”

“If you get a tattoo in an unlicensed place or in a place where there is little supervision, you could have transmission of organisms from person to person by the tattoo procedure.”

Dr. David Haburchak specializes in infectious diseases.  He talked to us about the risks of getting tattooed in a place that is not well-regulated.

“Needle gets contaminated. Needle is reused, and not sterilized in-between,” Haburchak says. “In a licensed center, that would be very very unlikely to happen. In a prison or jail or in a back alley, certainly that’s a high probability.”

Just one of the reasons Jacobs and his team support the effort to crack down on fly by night tattoo artists.

“We wanted them to say we’re going to put an end to this, tattooing out of houses, tattooing out of apartments, tattooing out of hotels. And that’s what they’ve tried to do.”

They are local health department agents. They make sure customers have a safe, sanitary place to get a tattoo.

Environmental Health Specialist Jawayne Dorsey describes part of his job.
“Making sure that the inks aren’t expired, making sure all of the cords are properly covered with plastic, making sure that all of the areas are smooth and easily cleanable.”

When the Health Department pays a visit, it brings a checklist. If a business falls short, it pays the price.

“If that form gets filled out all the way, the whole front page, that is a lot of mistakes, says Crystal Hillman of the Richmond County Health Department. “They would be put on a 90-day probation. Within that 90 days we’ll go back out there. If we see repetitive mistakes, we will take the permits off the wall and close the doors.”
The efforts of these local enforcers are supported by state leaders. After all, getting rid of the bad apples gives good businesses like Philip’s the chance to thrive.

“There’s a value to have them in our community,” says District 122 Representative Jodi Lott. “There’s a demand for them now, probably more than I’ve never seen before. They do a service and we appreciate those that are licensed and managing their facilities properly.”
That’s good  news for all the good artists out there. Artists who are following the rules,and enjoying the sweet sounds of success.

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