A ‘minor’ concern

Published 2:58 pm Saturday, June 26, 2010

Chad Iverson, owner of Ivy’s Ink Tattoo and Apparel in Austin, has mixed feelings about upcoming changes to Minnesota state law regarding the operation of tattoo establishments.

Already licensed with the Minnesota Department of Health, Iverson has no objections to the part of the law that requires all tattoo artists — and establishments — to carry state licenses by Jan. 1. It’s the law that goes into effect July 1 that prohibits tattoo artists from performing services for minors, even with the permission of parents, that has Iverson concerned.

Weekends are generally busy for Iverson, who sees up to five minors every Saturday who travel from Iowa with their parents to take advantage of the state’s current relaxed laws.

“It’s definitely going to make a dent in the cash register,” Iverson said.

That dent could add up to at least $350 a week, according to Iverson’s calculations.

Though Iverson isn’t completely in favor of the law because of the current monetary benefits, he said he does see the rationale behind the move.

“I guess, financially, I don’t agree with it, but as part of a permanent standpoint, I’m behind the argument,” he said.

Iverson is like many shop owners who run tattoo businesses along borders with Iowa and Wisconsin, states that already prohibit minors from getting tattoos. The bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Julie Bunn, DFL-Lake Elmo, gathered input from tattoo artists throughout the state during the creation of the bill.

“That came from the artist,” Bunn said in regard to the inspiration behind the new law. “It really was among the very top items they wanted out of this process.”

Bunn corresponded with tattoo artists from around the state via e-mail through the process of creating and sponsoring the bill. From the beginning, she sought practitioner feedback when it came to the content of the bill.

“They felt things that are permanent should be done by an adult who can make the decision,” Bunn said.

Because the majority of artists who took part in the process supported the move, she said she felt it was important to include it in the bill.

It was through that same process that Bunn learned tattoo artists from around the state were, for the most part, behind a law that would require all artists and tattoo establishments to be licensed by the Minnesota Board of Health.

Iverson is one of those supporters.

“I’m glad,” he said. “They need to get more stern on that.”

Iverson hopes the new law will rid communities of ‘basement scratchers,’ who conduct business out of their homes without licenses.

“They don’t have to follow the guidelines or pay the licensing, when people like me are trying to run a legitimate business,” he said.

Iverson said the new law will likely drive those people out of the business, rather than prompt them to seek licenses.

The Red Cross was also a proponent of the bill. The Red Cross has a policy that excludes people who have had a piercing or tattoo from giving blood for one year after the incident, largely because there is a lack of standards relating to licenses required for tattoo artists.