As area tattoo artists seek some sort of attention from the state, they may find them wishing the old newspaper adage about buying ink by the barrel was about them.
Count David Winland, a tattoo artist and store manager at Defiance Tattoo in Kent, among them. On Monday, he sent a petition with 1,473 signatures on it to the Ohio Department of Health, seeking clarity about when tattoo parlors can open.
"We’re one of the few businesses that have not been given a date," said Winland, who’s been tattooing for 27 years. "It’s like we’re the red-headed stepchild in the back of the room."
As part of the petition, Winland outlined proposed reopening guidelines for tattoo parlors, which already follow safety protocols that more closely resemble those for doctors’ offices than salons.
"I wrote a safety protocol for opening a shop safely in this environment," he said. "It’s certainly possible to change or amend things. It’s just basic guidelines we could use to get people from the street through the procedure safely."
He said he’s certified in managing blood borne pathogens, cross-contamination, CPR and first-aid.
"I’ve had those certifications current my entire career," he said. "Everything we do in tattooing has been self-imposed over the years. When it comes down to it, we’re as much at risk as our clients."
Winland said he’s having trouble keeping up financially since businesses were closed March 13.
"My daughter’s income basically pays two of my bills every month," he said. "We’re still all waiting for unemployment approval."
Independent contractors like Winland and other tattoo artists, along with all sorts of "gig workers" haven’t begun receiving the unemployment benefits or the $1,200 stimulus check many have already received to help survive layoffs and furloughs, he said.
Wendy Wagner, owner of Kustom Culture Tattoos and Piercings in Tallmadge, said she’s also frustrated by the lack of attention to her industry.
"They haven’t even mentioned tattoo shops since the day we were shut down," Wagner said Friday.
Since the shutdown, Wagner has attempted to acquire a stimulus loan but hasn’t received a response. She’s not sure when or if she’ll get a stimulus check, and her bills keep piling up.
"I have no idea when we can go back to work. I have a child; I have five employees," Wagner said. "Five employees. They all have homes to take care of, as well."
According to the petition, Winland suggested a wide range of reopening protocols, including lists for both clients and artists, closely resembling precautions dentists offices plan to take as they reopen.
"We’re a luxury item, but we can practice our trade a lot more safely than someone working somewhere like a Walmart or hairdresser," he said. "First, everything would be by appointment only."
Additionally, he proposed reopening with rules that:
• All clients must be over 18;
• All clients must get their temperature and oxygen saturation levels taken on arrival by staff;
• All clients and staff will wear masks covering their nose and mouth at all times;
• All clients will be given hand sanitizer on arrival;
• All clients will complete a respiratory illness survey on arrival;
• All clients will sign a waiver agreeing to not hold artists or businesses accountable for any exposure they may encounter;
• All procedures will be done with as much distancing as possible;
• Clients will arrive alone to avoid as minimal contact as possible between the staff and the public;
• Clients will not be permitted to use electronic devices once they have sanitized their hands. If they need to use their device, they will immediately wash or sanitize their hands once they are finished;
• All staff will have their temperature taken upon arrival;
• All staff will wash or sanitize their hands on arrival, as well as before and after any procedures;
• Businesses will disinfect premises before opening daily with Madicide, Sanicide or a similar product;
• Staff will wear masks covering the mouth and nose any time they interact with clients or other staff;
• Protective eyewear is optional, but encouraged;
• Staff will disinfect all restrooms before opening each day, as well as periodically throughout business hours;
• All surfaces to be used during any procedure is to be sanitized with Madacide or other comparable disinfectants before AND after every procedure;
• All tools to be used during any procedure will be disposable or autoclaved when applicable. Tools that aren’t autoclavable are to be sanitized before and after each procedure;
• All clipcords, machines and surfaces will be covered with barriers after they are sanitized. The barriers will then be disposed of properly after use;
• All tattoos will be prepped and sanitized before and after;
• All tattoos will be bandaged with Saniderm or any comparable and acceptable barriers;
• Piercings will follow the same protocols as tattoos where acceptable; and
• There will be no oral piercings allowed.
"What I asked for in the petition is just to have a voice," said Winland.
Akron Beaon Journal Reporter Alan Ashworth contributed to this article.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-620-8786, email@example.com or @bobgaetjens_rpc.