Underground Tattoo Parties: Potentially Deadly

Posted at 10:54 PM, May 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-16 06:32:54-04

WYOMING, Mich. –  You can find advertisements for tattoo parties or home tattoos all over Facebook and Craigslist.  They offer inexpensive “ink,” which are all illegal and can be dangerous, or even deadly.

“Basically, with the home tattoos you run the risk of getting hepatitis, HIV and AIDS, staph infections, MRSA,” says Nurse Practitioner Kimbery Fenbert from the Grand Valley State University Family Health Center.

David Mayville, who owns Anarchy Ink in Wyoming, says he’s seen it all. Tattoo parties by untrained home artists are happening all over West Michigan in non-sterile basements and garages. 

Home tattoo artists or parties attract people looking for a cheap tattoo and of course minors, says Nurse Practitioner Kathy Watt of GVSU Family Health Center. “People don’t realize how serious the complications are, and they just kind of take it for granted, that it’s kind of the ‘in’ thing to do.”

“Sometimes it gets so severe it can actually eat away at the skin, it’s very, very dangerous,” Fenbert says.

Mayville says the practice is bringing those dangers into his business. “My fiancé works here, so she’s doing a tattoo on a person that last night, last week, last month, got a tattoo and was exposed to HIV, MRSA, staph, tuberculosis, whatever it may be.”

Professional tattoo studios need several certifications through the health department, Mayville says. “We get tested. Our equipment is all tested monthly. the health department has at least some regulation over top of us.”

Anarchy Ink uses hospital grade soaps and cleaners, says Mayville.  Health professionals recommend taking precautions when getting a tattoo, just as you would with any medical procedure.