Tattooing has been ingrained in our culture for many years, and the permanent art form has become more popular and more acceptable over the years, with approximately 45 million Americans sporting at least one tattoo these days. As tattoos continue to gain popularity, another, more frightening trend is also on the rise: DIY tattoo kits.In what appears to be an attempt at truly authentic body art, more and more people are starting to either tattoo themselves or have their friends do it for them. “Stick and poke” parties, in which amateurs use a needle and ink to create a tattoo, are even becoming a popular weekend activity.
With kits as cheap as $40 readily available for purchase on the Internet, DIY tattoos have become a cheap and easy alternative to professional tattoos at a licensed shop. Take, for example, the self-tattooing site stickandpoketattokit.com, which sells rudimentary DIY kits containing a couple of needles, ink, gauze and some alcohol wipes.
The owner of the DIY tattoo company, Nicole West, says that her customers are typically activists chasing authenticity, according to Newsweek, but can the search for authenticity lead to trouble? Any professional tattoo artist will tell you that it most certainly can.
Contamination and infections are a major health concern with any tattoo, but when someone with no experience tries to tackle the project on their own, the risks are even higher. Licensed tattoo artists go through rigorous training to learn how to keep their workstation clean and how to sanitize equipment in between clients. An amateur with little, if any, experience or training could easily infect themselves or others, causing potentially life-threatening medical issues.
“Amateurs who attempt to do tattoos without proper training put themselves, their clients and the other people in that space in jeopardy of contracting any number of serious communicable diseases. Not knowing how to maintain a sterile environment while performing the procedure can lead to infection, and other severe issues.”
“The National Tattoo Association is especially concerned with the new DIY fad sweeping the nation,” says Israel Sanchez, Tattoo Artist and Shop Manager at Body Art & Soul in Philadelphia. “Even without purchasing a kit, instructional videos on YouTube and step by step websites on the Internet show young, inexperienced people how to use products from their home to tattoo themselves and others.”
“It’s a trade that needs to be taught and if you’re not taught properly you’re not going to be doing proper work,” said Vice President of the National Tattoo Association Sailor Bill Johnson, according to CBS Miami.The art of tattooing takes many years of training and experience to master, and when amateurs attempt to apply what they’ve learned from 15 minutes of Internet research, poor craftsmanship is the least of their worries.