Some tattoo artist say more regulation is not needed

Posted: 8:00 PM EDT Oct 15, 2012   Updated: 6:48 PM EDT Oct 16, 2012

Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner is calling for tougher health and training standards at the state's hundreds of tattoo parlors.

One local artist, however, said he already has enough regulators looking over his shoulder.

"We like to self-regulate our organization," said Chris Chieco, owner of Gamble Tattoo and Piercing. "The shop owners are mostly in charge of all that."

Wagner now wants to regulate the 750 tattoo parlors in the state.

"I think it's more about having scratchers coming," added Chieco. "They may learn to tattoo in three weeks for two thousand dollars. They are coming into the industry and starting shops."

Wagner wants the shops placed under the watchful eye of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Instead of regulations, Chieco said the state should set up a mandatory apprentice program.

"Most artists are apprenticed, so they are going to learn from a professional tattoo artist, somebody who's been in the business for usually over five years," said Chieco.

Part of the regulation addresses health issues like blood borne illnesses, but some tattoo artist said before you even walk in, that issue has already been addressed.

Chieco said many artists who work at tattoo conventions have to pass blood-borne pathogens training. He also requires all his artists to take the class before working at the shop.

"Making these laws are going to push people away from, 'Okay, I'm going to work in that sterile shop. I'm going to work in that environment,' and push people toward going and working out of their houses where they can still charge and set up there," said Chieco.

If the regulations go through, Chieco said he will follow them, but he is hoping the state will not put more red ink in his way.