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Tattoo Safety in Beloit

Everyone has those moments, those “I need a tattoo right now” weekend urges. Depending on who you are, these split second decisions can lead to the best, or the worst decision of your life. Safe tattoo practices often get thrown out the window on nights like these, but that doesn’t mean you can’t at least make an informed decision on where this midnight decision leads you. 

There are seemingly plenty of places in Beloit to get a decent tattoo, but online reviews can be deceiving. One shop in particular, House of Lex, has a 4.8 star rating on google, but many Beloit students have something else to say about it. One student says of their experience: “he was smoking weed while doing my tattoo and saying some sexist comments about my [breasts].” This is not the only instance of unprofessional practices at House of Lex, whose staff includes both tattoo artists and piercers.

 Many students who get pierced at House of Lex report having severe infections afterwards. Infection rates at shops are often sporadic, as some cases are a result of improper aftercare on account of the customer, but when a pattern emerges at certain shops, the statistics are harder to ignore. Safe piercing practices include sterilization of both the workspace and equipment, the use of only pre packaged, unopened needles, gloved hands, and hypoallergenic jewelry. The shirking of even one of these precautions can easily result in a severe infection of the piercing site. 

House of Lex has been known to pierce customers before having them sign the proper paperwork. If a tattoo or piercing shop doesn’t ask for ID, or doesn’t have you sign beforehand, do not get work done there. Not only is it unprofessional, but it’s very illegal. The paperwork that you sign is a safety net for the shop, ensuring that you are of age, consenting to the procedure, and understand the risks. Anywhere that isn’t strict about these policies most likely is lacking a license of some sort, or is unaware of the basic legality of body modification. 

One student reports that when they went to House of Lex for a septum piercing, the piercer took around 10 minutes to get the needle clean through, during which the student was left bleeding profusely out of the wound. Generally, a piercing should be a quick and clean procedure. The piercer would probe the location of the piercing beforehand, take note of obstructions, mark an ideal entrance point, then push the needle through in a matter of seconds. The whole thing should take no more than five minutes, including fitting the jewelry through. If a piercer struggles through the basics, it means they lack training, know-how, and possibly even a proper licence. 

As mentioned earlier, House of Lex is also severely lacking in their tattoo etiquette. It should go without saying that an artist should be completely sober while tattooing, as should the customer. Besides just the risk of a bad tattoo, intoxicated artists are putting their clients in real medical danger. An artist who isn’t sober can’t be paying proper attention to sanitization protocols or needle depth. It’s important to remember that getting a tattoo is a medical procedure, which involves breaking the skin and creating an open wound. Besides the risk of infection, bad tattooing can cause permanent skin damage if the ink is embedded too deeply underneath the surface. Any reputable tattoo studio will require, and enforce, sobriety for its artists and piercers during work hours. 

Clients should always feel comfortable with their artists, and any breach of that trust can be emotionally taxing on you, as a customer. Tattoo clients are putting themselves in a vulnerable position, just as any hospital patient would be, in that their health and wellbeing is temporarily in the hands of another. Artists should never make comments about a client’s body unless it directly pertains to the work that they’re doing. Your artist should not touch you any more than strictly necessary, especially on the chest or genital region. If you begin to feel uncomfortable during the session, speak up. Even if you leave with an unfinished tattoo, don’t put your emotional wellbeing in harm’s way; you can always find a more reputable shop to finish the piece later.

Another tattoo shop in town, such as Tattalatte, could be a better choice for students looking to get a tattoo. JR, the main artist, does beautiful work and has reasonable prices. The shop is very clean, and the artists are all welcoming. There haven’t been any outstanding reports of infected work, or dangerous sanitization practices. Something students should be aware of though, is that JR open carries. Understandably, some people may be wary of a shop with artists who carry guns, so it is important that potential customers are made aware of this. There have not been any instances of gun violence or threatening behavior at Tattalatte, nor have there been any reports of inappropriate comments made by anyone in the shop. Tattalatte does piercings, custom work, and has a range of flash tattoos you can choose from at the front. 

 College students are especially vulnerable to having a bad tattoo or piercing experience, as often they are not as well versed in tattoo and piercing etiquette and protocol. Hopefully this article can provide you with some guidelines on what to look for in a shop, and what to avoid. Remember, it is your body, and nobody should violate your control over that, especially not someone you’re paying. 

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