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Asking Artist about Sanitary/Sterile Practices


soraya
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This question is primarily for artists, but if you are not an artist, feel free to comment based on your experience with artists.

For all of my tattoos so far, I have picked artists who were good, and reputable. I saw general statements on their websites that said things like "full autoclave sterilization," and "We follow the blah blah recommended sanitation procedures." But honestly I accepted that at face value and never have asked about sterile procedures.

I am considering starting a back piece, and for some reason now I am feeling more concerned about sterile procedures. Maybe I'm just feeling lucky that there have been no issues in the past and I don't want to test my luck any further.

I have developed a list of very detailed questions about sterile procedures, including questions about Hepatitis C vaccination status. On one hand I feel that I have a right to ask these questions, but on the other hand, it seems a little awkward, and asking questions about vaccinations may get too personal.

My question is this: If you are an artist and some OCD person like me came in with a detailed list of questions and really grilled you on them, would you be open and understanding, or would you feel offended, or that that I am being too micro-managy and should accept the general statements.

I feel like I have the right to ask, but I don't want the artist to think "This lady is a head case. Not sure I want to work with her."

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I have ask them.... Do you autoclave needless? And the answer has been so far "No... and if you find a shop that does... run away."

Just my experience. Everything else I actually over see the artist do. Most of the artist I have worked with I have develop a base of trust. Specially for big pieces you tend to spend allot of time together so you get to know each other.

Most of my artist use fkirons and neotat machines and this new style machines "rotary" are mostly modular and the needle are like a cartridges and(to my knowledge) autoclave wont work on them... They must be trashed...

The grips are also disposable and I see them trash them. Cables, machine, power control, and grips, all get sleeved with plastic. Lots of alcohol use to disinfect chairs and surroundings..

Work bench is also wrapped...

I pay attention to all this... and no matter how many times or years I spend with my artist they never skip anything.

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<facepalm>

You don't autoclave needles. They are always single use. Doesn't matter what type of machine you use.

You be surprise... People have reported a shop around my area to re-use needles. Now you cant believe everything.... But I am not risking it... It's my health... so I have asked about it...

So level down for a second to those who don't know and are trying to learn and help us out understand, why re-using a needle cant be done?

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I just prefer people to not say things when they don't know what they are talking about. Two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Yes, you "can" reuse needles. You can do whatever you like. But it has nothing to do with "cartridges" or anything related to the machine.

Anything stainless steel is autoclavable. But do to the nature that a) needles are cheap and b) it is the safest procedure not to reuse. Stainless steel grips are autoclavable and can be reused.

Does that answer your question?

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You might want to double check your resources bub...

If that's not what they use it for I will say the same thing I said earlier.... Can you please enlighten it us what is used for?

I just see them do that and I assume that is used for that.

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I just prefer people to not say things when they don't know what they are talking about. Two ears and one mouth for a reason.

How the fuck are we suppose to know? We are not tattoo artists so we the customer have to go with what we hear and what feels right.

That's just plain been an ass hole

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You're good dude. I'm possibly in the wrong here. I just think it's weird to chat about here on teh internetz.

Standard, across the board, if you have concerns about your safety, always ask the person you're getting tattooed by. Everything you want to know about tattooing can be found on the internet, so just don't be surprised if, when talking to people you don't know on the internet, and some of them may/may not be tattooers, they may not the most forthcoming. If you want the answer, you can find it. But I still enjoy a certain veil of secrecy around this business.

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I don't know how many times you have to beat a dead horse around here.

I comes down to the internet making people lazy, why drive across town? I can go online and ask total strangers, and get the answer I want to hear instead of the one I should hear.

In my opinion.... I think is about others not wanting too look stupid in front of the guy who is about to tattoo him... Some what of a fear... So they use the internet to ask questions like this...

I would agree with you if it was about after care, etc... But questions such as the OP... I see them as people doing research...

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You're good dude. I'm possibly in the wrong here. I just think it's weird to chat about here on teh internetz.

Standard, across the board, if you have concerns about your safety, always ask the person you're getting tattooed by. Everything you want to know about tattooing can be found on the internet, so just don't be surprised if, when talking to people you don't know on the internet, and some of them may/may not be tattooers, they may not the most forthcoming. If you want the answer, you can find it. But I still enjoy a certain veil of secrecy around this business.

Understood. :)

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The OP was about asking in person. As in, how much to I talk about this ahead of time with my artist without sounding like a paranoid client with 9,000 questions and making the artist want to back out?

I have an honest question about the money conversation I've had with all three of my artists, but I'll never ask it here because of this kind of response.

The bottom line is that it is your body, and you're entitled to ask any questions you'd like to ask. If the artist thinks it is too much, well, find someone else. Customer service has to be part of the equation if you're going to art on human skin, and the health concerns are legitimate if things aren't being done correctly.

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Ham Jordan, Jimmy Carter's COS, was a director of the company that I worked for. We are a major player in cancer detection instruments, and Ham was a three-time cancer survivor (and ended up dying from mesothelioma). He spoke at a company function once, and noted (also in his book "No Such Thing as a Bad Day") that no one has more interest in your health than you.

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Ham Jordan, Jimmy Carter's COS, was a director of the company that I worked for. We are a major player in cancer detection instruments, and Ham was a three-time cancer survivor (and ended up dying from mesothelioma). He spoke at a company function once, and noted (also in his book "No Such Thing as a Bad Day") that no one has more interest in your health than you.

Damn straight. :D

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I'd agree with that - A, B, or combo. I'm supposed to have this done, but I've found creative ways to dodge the four shot series for a while...

I don't know if some states might require a HBV vaccination for tattooers. They could, since they are exposed to blood during the regular course of their job.

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Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe that a vaccine to prevent hepatitis C exists. In any case, I'm not sure what vaccinations a tattoo artist has or doesn't have is relevant to his or her health and hygiene practices when it comes to tattooing.

That's a good statement and fully agree.

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I have developed a list of very detailed questions about sterile procedures, including questions about Hepatitis C vaccination status. On one hand I feel that I have a right to ask these questions, but on the other hand, it seems a little awkward, and asking questions about vaccinations may get too personal.

My question is this: If you are an artist and some OCD person like me came in with a detailed list of questions and really grilled you on them, would you be open and understanding, or would you feel offended, or that that I am being too micro-managy and should accept the general statements.

I feel like I have the right to ask, but I don't want the artist to think "This lady is a head case. Not sure I want to work with her."

every artist is different and can probably stand different levels of inquisition before they figure out you're micro-managy head case. ;)

per the prior comment, the artist's vaccination status doesn't really impact the sterilization methods since they're not the ones with open wounds bleeding all over the place. you might have to look at all the records of their past clients! what you should realize is that they are (or should be) just as concerned with cross contamination as you because they have to deal with bloody clients all day long.

go to a reputable shop or reputable artist and relax.

your list could drive yourself crazy, let alone the artist. i kinda want to help with the crazy list...

- mop schedule/log (signed and dated)

- mopping cleaning agent ingredients

- mopping cleaning agent expiration date

- last time you changed the mop

- last time you cleaned the mop bucket

- pH of the water used to mop

- pH of green soap mixture

- green soap expiration date

- vaseline expiration date

- calibration records of autoclave

- lot number and expiration of vaccination

- lot number of needle used for vaccination

- vaccination records of last 5 sexual partners

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I'll answer your questions, I think they're important questions and not outside the realm of reasonable inquiry. While I do think that a veil of secrecy is important to the artistic and technical aspects of tattooing, this is stuff that the customer should know about especially if you are concerned about your health and safety. In my opinion, the quality and transparency of your sanitation practices should be comparable to that of a physician. The information I am about to give anyone reading this right now IS NOT LICENSE TO GO INTO YOUR TATTOO SHOP AND SARCASTICALLY GRILL THE TATTOOERS ABOUT SANITATION PRACTICES IN A KNOW IT ALL MANNER. BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL OR SHUT THE FUCK UP. Also don't take my word or anything you read on the internet in blind faith.

This is how I keep my customers safe:

Saran wrap, drape sheets, and dental bibs covering every surface of my workplace including station, armrests, and massage tables.

Anything that I touch during the tattoo will have saran wrap, barrier film, or tape covering the surface.

I use stainless steel tubes which are scrubbed with a detergent and then autoclaved for 60 minutes inside of sterile pouches which have steam indicators on them to let you know that they have reached the appropriate sterility temperature.

I use single-use stainless steel needles which have been ethelyne oxide gas sterilized by my supply company, also with an indicator strip.

Every part of my setup is single-use and disposable except the tubes which are autoclaved, the soap bottle which is autoclaved, and my machines which are wiped down with a hospital-grade antimicrobial chemical.

We perform weekly spore tests on the autoclave to ensure that it is sufficiently killing all of the nasties.

Once my supplies are disposed of, I also spray and wipe down my entire workspace with hospital grade antimicrobial chemicals according to cross contamination practices I have learned and am tested on according to my Blood Borne Pathogens certification that I am required to update yearly.

I have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B, although no vaccine for C exists as of yet.

I am also licensed to tattoo by the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health and will gladly show you my paperwork for both my license and BBP certification.

I have been asked by customers in the past to explain and demonstrate all of this information and to me it is never a hassle because I am doing my part to keep myself and my clients safe, and I do not want to tattoo someone if they are uncomfortable getting tattooed by me.

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@clttattooing well said. I took the Red Cross BBP certification for tattooers a few months ago, and I must say it was pretty uninformative and incomplete. I'd go as far as to say this course could be passed by a 13 year old on a school night. What do you think about it?

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I'll answer your questions, I think they're important questions and not outside the realm of reasonable inquiry. While I do think that a veil of secrecy is important to the artistic and technical aspects of tattooing, this is stuff that the customer should know about especially if you are concerned about your health and safety. In my opinion, the quality and transparency of your sanitation practices should be comparable to that of a physician. The information I am about to give anyone reading this right now IS NOT LICENSE TO GO INTO YOUR TATTOO SHOP AND SARCASTICALLY GRILL THE TATTOOERS ABOUT SANITATION PRACTICES IN A KNOW IT ALL MANNER. BE POLITE AND RESPECTFUL OR SHUT THE FUCK UP. Also don't take my word or anything you read on the internet in blind faith.

This is how I keep my customers safe:

Saran wrap, drape sheets, and dental bibs covering every surface of my workplace including station, armrests, and massage tables.

Anything that I touch during the tattoo will have saran wrap, barrier film, or tape covering the surface.

I use stainless steel tubes which are scrubbed with a detergent and then autoclaved for 60 minutes inside of sterile pouches which have steam indicators on them to let you know that they have reached the appropriate sterility temperature.

I use single-use stainless steel needles which have been ethelyne oxide gas sterilized by my supply company, also with an indicator strip.

Every part of my setup is single-use and disposable except the tubes which are autoclaved, the soap bottle which is autoclaved, and my machines which are wiped down with a hospital-grade antimicrobial chemical.

We perform weekly spore tests on the autoclave to ensure that it is sufficiently killing all of the nasties.

Once my supplies are disposed of, I also spray and wipe down my entire workspace with hospital grade antimicrobial chemicals according to cross contamination practices I have learned and am tested on according to my Blood Borne Pathogens certification that I am required to update yearly.

I have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B, although no vaccine for C exists as of yet.

I am also licensed to tattoo by the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health and will gladly show you my paperwork for both my license and BBP certification.

I have been asked by customers in the past to explain and demonstrate all of this information and to me it is never a hassle because I am doing my part to keep myself and my clients safe, and I do not want to tattoo someone if they are uncomfortable getting tattooed by me.

Dude thanks for this!!!!

This should be on a sticky for noobs looking for information.

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