gougetheeyes

Letter to City Council members / Dept. of Health regarding Tattoo Schools

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Hey all,

Scott recently posted to his blog here a letter from a friend regarding some positive action we could take regarding the glorification of tattoo schools. If you haven't read it, read it.

Since letting my own indignation die down a bit, and especially since watching the first episode of Marcus Kuhn's Gypsy Gentleman and VBS' Tattoo Age, I have felt that the best responses are the indirect ones, that through creativity and a passion for tattoos, we needn't start protesting in the streets or bombarding TLC's hotlines, but instead simply continue to create / receive great tattoos, supporting the industry through legitimate projects like the ones just mentioned and being living, breathing examples of quality tattooers and educated customers.

But Scott's post is related to the tattoo schools themselves, not to TLC (part of a billion-dollar corporation) and it brings up a good point that we, as a community, should instead be looking to the tattoo school businesses. As you know, I am not a tattooer, but I feel very strongly about so-called tattooers taking shortcuts, these businesses reaping the benefits and basically everyone just straight up losing on all sides.

I've drafted a rough letter that can be sent to council members in Schenectady where one of the schools is located. I would love to get some feedback and hopefully we can make this a great one. I don't know enough about the health code aspects of it, so any more info. there would be great.

LST member Witera33it has some new information from the NYS Dept. of Health regarding where to send the letters, so as we get the specifics worked out, take a look at the letter and please give some input. I guess it takes the mass media to create this groundswell, but hopefully contacting council members or the Dept. of Health will help in either stifling or shutting down these parasitic companies, or making new ones think twice before they open and start spreading their kitchen table scratcher gospel to millions of teenagers and 20-somethings who never thought about tattoos once in their lives but are now viewing it as a quick and easy alternative to becoming a banker.

Thanks, hope this is helpful and constructive.

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Would probably help if I included the letter...

Dear _______,

As you may be aware, the TLC television network is airing a series called Tattoo School that features a business called the Tattoo Learning Center, which operates facilities in San Diego, California and Schenectady, New York.

Amidst all the recent publicity that it has garnered, I am urging you to please oppose this business.

The trade of tattooing is one of the few occupations left in which a master trains an apprentice. This working relationship lasts years in order for the apprentice to acquire the mechanical, artistic and interpersonal skills necessary to complete a tattoo that is done correctly and is in line with strict guidelines established by the Department of Health. Tattooing is a licensed practice and a lack of knowledge regarding infection control and training related to blood-borne pathogens can create severe health risks. For a fee, the Tattoo Learning Center purports to teach years of training in a mere two weeks time.

As a member of the tattoo community, I am appalled that such organizations are gaining legitimacy. I am disgusted by the flagrant disregard for the industry as a whole, and I shudder to imagine the health code violations which are bound to happen when so-called students are unleashed on the general public with only a modicum of training.

Although these tattoo schools have always existed, they did so on the very fringe of the tattoo industry and had never been given much legitimacy simply because any tattooer –– or any tradesman, for that matter –– worth his or her own salt knows that paying a fee (usually ranging from $2,000 to $6,000) and spending a couple weeks in a classroom cannot begin to prepare anyone for real-world experience. However, because the TLC network has chosen to glorify this shortcut to tattooing, I am compelled to do everything within my power to oppose the Tattooing Learning Center and other businesses like it.

Regardless of your opinion of tattoos or the tattoo industry, it is one of the richest and most sacred trades in our country and throughout the world. Centuries-old traditions are passed from master to apprentice, secrets are fiercely guarded and you would be hard-pressed to find the kind of support, loyalty and friendship between peers and coworkers in any industry.

A doctor only becomes a doctor after years of schooling and multiple certifications. A master luthier can only be called a master after undergoing rigorous training. A sommelier is not simply a wine enthusiast because it has taken a lifetime to understand the complexities of wine. And any competent tattooer has spent years making tattooing his or her life work.

Please oppose the Tattoo Learning Center in Schenectady and others like it.

Sincerely...

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my only question, and i'm only asking because this issue has been discussed on here, is does this bring too much government attention then to tattooing in general? will this then be grounds for more regulation on tattooing as a whole?

i'm all for writing letters, but i guess i'm also worried that it will do more harm than good. maybe it won't though?

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Yeah, that was also on my mind. Originally, it started as strictly a business-related thing but Witera said after getting in touch with the city council he was directed to the NYS dept. of health.

Also, if the consensus is to not send it, I am completely fine with not sending it.

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This particular school is licensed through the department of education. There will have to be some dialogue with them as well. The man who approved the curriculum is Dr Thomas Reimer TREIMER2@MAIL.NYSED.GOV. He is of the opinion that this is an adequate curriculum for INTRODUCTION to tattoo. send him pictures of student work. Send him training curriculum for proper aseptic technique. "The program of the school is not "Tattooing" but "Tattoo Fundamentals". A requirement for admissions is*a drawing portfolio. It is an introduction to the art. Students are told not to think that they are masters of the art after 2 weeks but to continue to learn and grow.*

The course starts with 2 full days*in safety & sterilization,*safe work environment & waste handling (By the way, cosmetology and esthetics have 26 hours in a 1000 hour and 600 hour curriculum), which is then reinforced throught the skills training.*The other days of the first week include working on pigskin, theory etc. Students touch volunteers only in the second week. I am satisfied that the course is useful as*an INTRODUCTION to the art." this is contradictory to what she is advertising

Because this is the case, we cannot simply ask them to get rid of it. We must contact the NYS dept of education and NYS department of health.

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I know this is only a theory and would be something almost impossible to pull off but maybe if we could look at this more so in the same light as the skilled trades do.

You would first have to be taken on by an artist at their shop. Thus becoming a registered apprentice with the skill trades. Your apprenticeship should be a set amount of hours, with school time integrated into that time frame. The schooling should consist collage level courses in: Business management, Fine art, Proper procedures of sterilization on equipment and work spaces. Maybe some other courses too that I am not thinking about. The time spent at the shop would be to help put the learned skills from school to use, and learn from the tattoo artist about techniques and trade secretes. Once all the hours and school time is complete there should be some sort of final test from the schooling and with the tattoo artist that you finished your apprenticeship with. The whole thing would help generate jobs in ministry or government (keeping track of the apprentices and their hours and school courses) and it would help keep some people from trying to take advantage of shortcuts into the tattoo industry. Don't forget that a long time ago Fine art was also a skilled trade where as you needed to be taken on by a master to learn the trade.

I am just spit-balling an idea from what I read.

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I am a she. But the council will not make a move without revised health regulations. Which are being rewritten as we speak. The attention has already been brought. So we must look in the direction that the beurocracy is looking. addressing the man in charge of curriculum, dept of education and NYS dept of health are the directions we have to look into to get anything.

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Rockelman, that all sounds good on paper, but I think maybe you haven't taken into account the fact that those taking on an apprentice are also doing their jobs at the same time. It's fine saying, "yeah, we should do a certain amount of time for each thing, an hour on this a week, five on that, etc.", but pretty much every day is different in a studio, so you honestly don't know how much you'd be able to get done.

Besides, who would test the apprentice at the end? If they're not a good tattooer to begin with, they'll probably pass the apprentice, even if everyone else can see they're bad.

I see what you're getting at, though.

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Rockelman, that all sounds good on paper, but I think maybe you haven't taken into account the fact that those taking on an apprentice are also doing their jobs at the same time. It's fine saying, "yeah, we should do a certain amount of time for each thing, an hour on this a week, five on that, etc.", but pretty much every day is different in a studio, so you honestly don't know how much you'd be able to get done.

Besides, who would test the apprentice at the end? If they're not a good tattooer to begin with, they'll probably pass the apprentice, even if everyone else can see they're bad.

I see what you're getting at, though.

True, very true. I just think that if it were harder to get into then it would stop someone who is not passionate about it from getting into it just for trying to be something they are not

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To be honest, I've already seen two apprentices leave my friend's studio, and another leave another friend's, because it was "too hard" in the end. Actually, one was asked to leave, because they hadn't bothered to draw anything they said they'd been doing at home, but it still goes back to the "too hard" excuse- maybe apprenticeships are enough.

I mean, this is just from what I've seen, though, I've never had an apprenticeship myself of course!

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my only question, and i'm only asking because this issue has been discussed on here, is does this bring too much government attention then to tattooing in general? will this then be grounds for more regulation on tattooing as a whole?

i'm all for writing letters, but i guess i'm also worried that it will do more harm than good. maybe it won't though?

Look at my thread about chemical compisition of tattoo pigments. Nobody want to reveal them, insisting its a "trade secret', yet probably a lot of these guys want to go to government agencies in a vain attempt to protect the trade. Can't have it both ways unfortunately.

I think trying to get the government involved is just plain playing with fire. They will regulate and tax this thing to death. Look what happened in Oregon, apprenticeships are actually illegal, "tattoo school" is the only way to go there. Can't people understand that the authorities can never appreciate the informal teaching methods that is involved in any true apprenticeship? Gotta be "official", which includes unwarranted fees and ludicrous rules written by people that have absolutely no interest in tattooing whatsoever.

Keep them out of it, educate the customer on what standards to insist on. True professionals have done a pretty good job of this on their own, because they care about the trade and have ethics. Quti trying to protect people from there own lack of judgement.

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As an anarchist I feel you should try and keep the Gov. out of it all. Why bring the attention to yourself. I say education not regulation.

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While I agree for the most part, the legislation is already in process in NYS, so our only alternative is to guide them to a reasonable conclusion. Also since the tattoo school is monitored by the dept of education, our only recourse is still through the government.

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While I agree for the most part, the legislation is already in process in NYS, so our only alternative is to guide them to a reasonable conclusion. Also since the tattoo school is monitored by the dept of education, our only recourse is still through the government.

Right, so, does anyone have opinions on the letter or has it become somewhat pointless since they're directing us to the Health Dept. and asking for input on health regs? Originally, it was a "please oppose this business and others like it" though now seems it's taken another direction. I have no idea about health reg. stuff.

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