Tattoo Artists Surviving a Global Pandemic Tristan Zelden @Legendofzelden

COVID-19 has had effects that have spread throughout the world across many industries. For the tattoo industry, a field of independent workers who only get paid when they create art, it has been a rollercoaster of locks downs, safety precautions and trying to survive financially.

For clients, they had two choices before the pandemic. They could set up an appointment with an artist that they researched through the tattooer themselves or the shop's appointment system. The other path of getting a tattoo was by walking in. Due to the virus, that road has been blocked to reduce the amount of people in a shop.

"I refuse to do walk-ins. I don’t want to have to sit in there and have to draw for them for 30 to 40 minutes," Debbi Snax, a tattooer from Atlanta, told Allure. "That’s more time I’m spending breathing [the client's] air."

A spider tattoo from Codie Naish, a tattooer from Hanford, CA

The industry is held up by its safety standards. If a client gets sick from a unsterilized work station, then that artist will become blacklisted from the industry. Now artists must work extra hard to ensure everyone in the shop is safe. Outside of normal procedures like wiping down chairs and arm rests with alcohol and wrapping everything a client touches with plastic wrap, anyone walking in, client or artist, must have a mask. Some places opted to take everyone's temperature too.

45 out of 50 states in the United States have laws to keep artists and clients safe. It prevent minors from getting tattooed while making sure there are health inspections to ensure needles are clean and the proper steps are taken to prevent any diseases from festering.

Below is an Instagram post made by Nikki Simpson, a world renown tattooer and owner of New York City's EverBlack Tattoo Studio, who laid out guidelines on what her shop is doing to adjust to the health risks that her and her clients face when meeting for an appointment.

Not every studio has made it. After 12 years, Northridge's MD Tattoo studio shutdown. An announcement was made on Instagram about how COVID-19 impacted the business.

While tattooers face the risk of getting sick or losing their job, clients must think of themselves too. One Twitter user, @AerisPearson, wrote how they are high risk, making them postpone their first tattoo.

While some people have to shutdown the idea of getting a tattoo like Aeris, others have to reschedule their appointments that have already been made. Many areas across the world have numbers rising. For Canadian Twitch streamer, Canadian Gamer Mom, she had to postpone her already scheduled appointment as the CDC considers Canada to be a high risk country.

According to Medium, 46 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. Between men and women, neither hold a higher amount of body art than the other.

Across the people surveyed around the world, the young respondents between the ages of 14 to 29 take up 32 percent of people with a tattoo while people in their 30s and 40s make up a larger portion with 45 percent saying they have at least one piece of life-time artwork embedded into their skin.

From left to right: Data showcasing percentages of people with one tattoo, demographics by age and the comparison of men and women having tattoos by individual countries.
Created By
Tristan Zelden