A new non-profit organisation (NPO) called Tattooers Unite SA has made it their mission to save the industry. It is imploring government to consider allowing the industry to operate as the lockdown levels begin easing.
“Tattooers and studio owners! It’s time for some action.. please sign our petition and start making a noise. Our artists can’t carry on sitting at home and we can’t keep paying rent for empty shops. Share the fund, get your customers to donate, sign the petition,” the NPO said via a Facebook post. “Help us get us all back to work! If you have registered you will have a link on email to Covid-19 shop protocols, otherwise they are linked from the petition. We have 24 hours to get all your signatures.”
The NPO was founded with the help of Africorp Accounting Solutions and will help studios who are at the risk of closure, as well as artists who are in financial need as they cannot work because of lockdown.
According to Derek Baker, one of the founders of Tattooers Unite SA, Level 1 may be too late to have artists return to work.
A change.org petition was submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry on Tuesday, May 19, and had over 7 000 signatures upon submission.
Ouma Ridard, a tattoo artist who usually has a long waiting list of clients, is also feeling the financial strain that lockdown is having on her business. “It is my main source of income, so I had to move back to my parents’ for lockdown,” she said.
While her primary source of income has come to a standstill, Ridard notes that tattoo artists operating at Level 1 may cause a spike in movement during lockdown. “Considering the cleanliness of tattoo studios, I don’t think it would be a risk of spreading the virus,” she said. “However, it would increase traffic and movement of people.”
While tattoo artists are aware that their jobs are not considered an essential service, many are concerned that tattoos may become a new hot commodity on the black market, much as the sale of tobacco and liquor has become. This may lead to a spike in positive COVID-19 cases, as those who are untrained may take advantage of citizens.
Part of Tattooers Unite SA’s appeal stems from the fact that all professional tattoo artists and studios are highly trained in the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPEs), exposure protocols and blood-borne pathogen training.