In St. Joseph, tattoos can only legally be done inside of a registered tattoo parlor, but an upcoming City Council decision could expand the canvas for tattoo artists.
If passed, the ordinance would allow the set up of tattoo shops at temporary locations during events.
Environmental Public Health Specialist for the St. Joseph Health Department Thomas Beavers said that the tattoo community has asked for such an ordinance for a long time.
“Basically, it’s a response to an outcry from a lot of our tattoo artists that are in town. They wanted a way to have conventions or special events,” Beavers said.
He said the temporary shops would be required to follow the same health codes and regulations as permanent shops.
Currently, artists and tattooing shops are required to have a state license from the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services as well as an “artist card” from the city, along with their business license in order to prove that they are healthy.
Regular inspections are held by the environmental public health specialist.
The new ordinance would follow the same rules and also would allow guest artists from out of town to set up temporary shop.
Owner of Outlaw Ink tattoo parlor Russell Trautwein said his shop gets inspected about six times a year.
He said the tattoo scene in St. Joseph is struggling.
“I think we should really step it up here in St. Joe to allow artists to compete with surrounding towns,” Trautwein said.
He said special events such as tattoo conventions would be a good way to revitalize the industry.
“It would be a great idea to have conventions,” Trautwein said. “The industry around here needs a boost, I believe. So, I think it’s a really good idea.”
Co-owner of Independent Tattoo Co. Nick Spencer also thinks conventions and expos would be a good idea.
He said the ordinance also would make it easier to monitor and regulate tattoos that are being done outside of parlors.
“I think it’s a great way to move forward as far as different events go and it’s a great way to keep track of tattoos that are being done in a different setting, other than a tattoo shop,” Spencer said.
Spencer, who is heavily tattooed, said many of his were not done in tattoo parlors, and that, so long as the equipment and area is clean, the setting shouldn’t matter.
Angelique Ash got her first tattoo at Independent Tattoo Co. on Tuesday. She said she plans on getting more tattoos and wouldn’t mind getting one at an expo.
“I mean, if they take the right precautions, yeah. They do expos for everything else, why not?” Ash said.
The council is scheduled to vote on the issue at its June 19 meeting.