Gerald Morvant, owner of Dequincy's only licensed tattoo parlor, applies art to Josh Moody on Thursday in his shop, Gerald's Tattoo and Body Art Studio. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Gerald Morvant, owner of Dequincy's only licensed tattoo parlor, Gerald's Tattoo and Body Art Studio, places a sterile needle into his tattoo gun before tattooing a client. (Karen Wink / American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, July 16, 2012 1:44 PM
DEQUINCY — A local tattoo artist wants City Council members to consider drafting an ordinance to crack down on unlicensed tattoo artists.
Gerald Morvant — owner of Gerald’s Tattoo and Body Art Studio — told council members this week that he has two main concerns. Morvant said getting tattoos from unlicensed people is a health risk and that it makes those with legitimate businesses suffer.
“They can possibly be reusing needles. I’ve heard that some of these individuals’ theory of sterilization is dipping it in rubbing alcohol,” Morvant told the American Press. “If that’s the case, their equipment is not sterilized properly.”
Using unsterilized equipment can result in disease transmission, which Morvant said he has seen happen in DeQuincy. He said a mother recently brought her minor child into his shop angry because the child got a blood infection from a tattoo artist who claimed to work for Morvant.
State officials said the health department regulates commercial body art facilities and that getting tattoos from unlicensed people is risky.
Tom Gasparoli, health department spokesman, said nonsterile equipment “could subject clients to hazards ranging from ‘botched’ artwork to staphylococcus infections to potentially fatal illnesses such as tetanus, hepatitis and HIV.”
Morvant said he plans to push the council to consider drafting an ordinance that would make unlicensed tattooing an “arrestable or finable offense.”
“Public opinion of my shop is really going down. It’s the substandard work that unlicensed people are doing, and I get some of the heat because I’m the only legitimate visible shop in town,” he said.
At the council meeting Monday, Police Chief Mike Suchanek said the act of unlicensed tattooing is not a criminal act if the person receiving the tattoo is an adult. However, tattooing a minor without his or her parents’ permission is a crime, whether the artist is licensed or not.
City Council member Denise Maddox said the council would need to do more research before considering such an ordinance.
“We would have to see the extent of the problem in our area,” Maddox said. “We’d need to look into regulations at both the state and parish level. This isn’t something that I would foresee being an immediate situation because of that research.”
Maddox said she urges DeQuincy residents to contact their council members if they have concerns about unlicensed tattoo artists in the area.
Gasparoli said people can report problems with a tattoo facility to the Office of Public Health. People who suspect they have received an illness from getting a tattoo should seek medical treatment and report the incident to the Office of Public Health.