For those looking to get their first tattoo, you may have a couple of different concerns on your mind. One of those should be your health and safety while getting a tattoo. Sanitization is extremely important, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic, but you might be surprised to find out that our sanitizing processes haven’t changed that significantly since the start of the pandemic because we already were meeting the industry standard for cleanliness.
All of our artists and apprentices go through bloodborne pathogens training every year, which involves an online class, a ton of reading, and a long test to get certified according to the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. The class teaches artists about bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis and tuberculosis, how they are spread, and how to avoid exposure. Once an artist earns their certificate, it allows them to work in a shop and travel to conventions and to other studios. We also get checked up on by the Health Department every few months to ensure that everything is staying up to date.
As soon as new apprentices walk in the door at Dark Age, they are required to take this class and get their certification. As a part of their apprenticeship, we also teach them how to sanitize everything and they practice these steps until it becomes second nature. It should be. For the most part, any reputable shop will be meeting the standard and everything will be done properly but making sure everything is clean and there is no cross-contamination is very important. The biggest thing that people think about is to make sure their artist is using a new needle, but germs can be transferred through other means as well. There’s a lot more to everything being sanitary than just changing needles. It’s like cooking raw chicken: you can’t use the same knife you used on the chicken to cut vegetables. Everything a tattoo artist uses should be wrapped and sanitized after the session. They should be using new needles and disposing of needles in a sharps container as well as using disposable wrappings and ink ups.
One of the few bright sides of the pandemic is that it made people more aware of germs and cleanliness, but we always had to be aware of those things as tattoo artists. The only difference between how we kept things clean before COVID and now is that now we are constantly sanitizing doorknobs and faucets, our capacity inside the shop is lower, and we all wear face masks. Some artists even chose to wore face coverings while they were tattooing before COVID.
Nine times out of ten, if someone does end up getting an infection from their tattoo, it will be because they didn’t follow the proper after-care instructions given to them by their artist, not because the shop isn’t clean. For a lot of people, they take care of their first tattoo like their life depends on it but get lazy with any they get after that. Aftercare is also very important. You should treat your art like an open wound because it is one. Getting your tattoo infected can damage your artwork or cause the ink to fade. Getting a tattoo is an investment and taking care of your investment according to the instructions of your artist can ensure that your art stays looking brand-new for years.