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New rules for getting tattoos

There are new laws in effect concerning tattoo practices.

As of July 1, those younger than 18 can't get a tattoo in Minnesota even with parent or guardian consent.

There are also restrictions on piercing. Those younger than 18 must have parent or guardian consent and the parent or guardian must be present during the procedure.

There are some types of piercing that can't be given to someone younger than 18, even with parent or guardian consent.

Jim Taddei, city administrator, said Alexandria already has ordinances concerning tattooing methods. The current ordinance has been in effect since 2005.

Taddei said the local ordinances will have to comply with the state regulations. The current ordinances are not as strict or in depth as the state regulations. This means the Alexandria ordinances will need to be amended, said Taddei.

This will need to be completed by January 1, 2011. Once the changes have been made, the state will be in charge of regulating the new ordinance, added Taddei.

Randy McKernan, owner of RM Tattoo and Body Piercing in Alexandria, said the biggest problem he has with the law is the amount of time he had to prepare for it. McKernan said he had little notice of the new law.

This caused problems with appointments. He had already made appointments for people younger than the age of 18 for July and now he can't offer them the service.

He hopes the law will not encourage people younger than 18 to go to "scratchers" to get their tattoos. Scratchers are people who give tattoos without proper training. They often have little knowledge of contamination prevention and are not licensed. The practice is generally done out of their homes and they are known to do poor quality work.

McKernan's customers' reaction from the law has not been positive so far. Customers with planned appointments have come in to get their tattoos and have been turned down because they are not 18, he added.

McKernan spoke of a mother who came in with her daughter that had an appointment to get her tattoo done shortly after the law went into effect. Both the mother and daughter were upset when McKernan had to turn them away when he explained that tattooing a person younger than 18 is no longer allowed even with parent permission.

He also said that business might lessen depending on the types of piercing that will not be allowed for those younger than 18.

About 100 people come into RM Tattoo and Body Piercing each month for tattoos, said McKernan. He added that at least a quarter of these customers were younger than 18.

Overall, McKernan believes the law will be effective in cleaning up shops and keeping parlors sterile.