Tattoo artists give their thoughts about unlicensed ink artists

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Experts in the state of Mississippi says it's illegal to give a tattoo to a minor regardless of parental consent. Our law states you have to be 18 years old to get a tattoo. We stopped by Jack and Diane's Tattoo in Gulfport to get a better perspective on how other tattoo artists feel about the crime Jeremy Lee Stewart is now charged with.

The sound of tattooing echoed around the room as permanent ink was drawn on human flesh. Tattoo artist David Newman said that is sound minors should never experience.

"As a professional, there are certain guidelines you follow and one is no child should be put in that type of environment it's just not safe, it's not healthy," said David Newman.

Newman said vulnerable children are unaware of the health risks that lie in the hands of an un-licensed ink artist.

Newman said, "Hepatitis, aids, you don't know what the outcome is going to be."

Owner of Jack and Diane's Tattoo, Jack Donovan, has a passion for creating pictures like these on people's bodies, but said if you are not capable of doing it legally, you shouldn't being doing it at all.

"That's a rule. It's a crime to tattoo in the state of Mississippi without being licensed by the Health Dept," said Jack Donovan.

Donovan said sterilization is one of the most important parts to creating permanent artwork. To do that, laws in our state say tattoo equipment must be run through an autoclave machine.

"Water comes in here, instruments come in, the door is sealed and it's turned to a particular temperature. Water heats up building pressure and pressure and heat kill micro organisms," said Donovan.

Certificates and licenses are hung behind each artist at Jack and Diane's. Donovan believes people without proper licenses, such as Jeremy Stewart, really hurt legitimate businesses.

"When people do this all it does is fulfill the stereotype everyone thinks about. There's excellent tattoo artists out there and excellent business men who do right every day, but for everyone of these there's 100 of these types of individuals," said Donovan.

These creative hands all agreed, if you are practicing illegally, you deserve the consequences.

Newman said, "Someone that's doing it out of their house, they don't have the heart or the passion to do what we do on a professional level."

Donovan said anyone wanting to become a tattoo artist in the state of Mississippi must go through a probation period where they train under the guidance of a licensed tattoo artist.

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