Call for crackdown on rogue tattooists 'setting up in people's kitchens'

Nicola and Shane Grady, co-owners of Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Nicola and Shane Grady, co-owners of Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

A tattooist is asking city folk to report rogue tattoo artists trading without proper licences and offering bargains which are "too good to be true".

Shane Grady has been running Cold Iron Tattoo Studio in Norwich for seven years alongside his partner Nicola.

He's calling for anyone who comes across a suspect tattooist to dob them in to the council.

The couple fear that as more and more people turn to "travelling" tattooists — because they're much cheaper  — the risk of serious infections, and to public health, will grow.

Someone having a tattoo done at Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Someone having a tattoo done at Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Mr Grady explained: "Licensed tattoo artists pay £79 to Norwich City Council for their personal license, and £381 for a premises license.

"People who refuse to pay that, and then come to your kitchen and do you a tattoo are not to be trusted.

"There's no proof they're using sterilised needles or the right equipment.

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"I've seen it all over social media: people saying they're "learning tattooing" and want to try it out on someone in their homes. It terrifies me.

"There's been no blood-borne diseases reported in Norwich thank goodness, but it has happened elsewhere.

"Unlicensed tattoo artists dealing with blood is a bad, bad combination. It can only go wrong."

Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

According to Mr Grady the issue with tattooing is that it's highly deregulated.

He said: "The only thing governing our industry are some archaic byelaws, and the only way councils can clamp down on rogue traders is if someone brings charges against them.

"That's why customers themselves have to be proactive in reporting dodgy artists."

Norwich City Council did not provide a comment, but on its website it says all tattooists, piercers, acupuncture and electrolysis practitioners must register their business and display this registration certificate.

An environmental health officer will then carry out inspections of all newly registered premises, and carry out further routine checks.

Some tattoo designs by artists at Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

Some tattoo designs by artists at Cold Iron tattoo studio in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

But Mr Grady maintains this doesn't happen enough, and rogue traders are slipping through the net.

In the studio's wider bid to clean up the industry, they have also started a petition to ban the use of "dangerous" piercing guns in the UK. 

Begun by apprentice piercer Phebe Thomas, the petition is already near 5,000 signatures.

She is hoping to reach 10,000 by mid-November.

Sign here.

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