Be Pierced: Wexford Tattoo Artists Facing Major Problem Due To New EU Ban

Tattoo artists across Wexford, Ireland, and Europe are facing major problems due to the potential of a new EU ban…

As we’re all aware, tattoos have become increasingly popular in recent times. At least 12% of all Europeans have some form of tattoo. In the 18-35 age group, twice as many are likely to have a tattoo.

In Ireland in 2019, research showed that almost 35% of Irish people have a tattoo.

Recently, we caught up with Liam O’Grady, the owner of ‘Be Pierced‘ tattoo and piercing studios in Wexford town.

With the Coronavirus pandemic, the tattoo industry has already been severely impacted.

“The coronavirus has affected my business, both negatively and positively. In terms of the Tattoos and Piercings, we’ve had almost four months work since the first initial lockdown in March 2020. Going off how long this is pencilled to last at a minimum, currently June, we’re looking at at least a year of business lost,” Liam said.

“On the other hand, I am one of the lucky business owners that had an online store prior to covid-19 and with there being such a huge rise in online sales, I’ve been blessed that my customers are still supporting me by buying Jewellery and other items on it,” O’Grady continued.

The EU are now planning to ban the Pigment Blue 15:3 and the Pigment Green 7 due to concerns relating to adverse health effects:

“In addition to allergies and skin problems, toxic chemicals found in tattoo inks can cause other adverse health effects, such as cancer. Tattooing is increasingly popular in Europe. This is why it is urgent that we regulate those chemicals now,” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, who is a European Commissioner.

“The health and well-being of our citizens is our priority”, Sinkevičius continued.

With a potential EU ban on the Pigment Blue 15:3 and the Pigment Green 7, tattoo artists across Wexford, Ireland, and the EU are facing even greater concerns.

The ban will not just effect all green tones and all blue tones, however. Instead, it will effect purples, browns, many mixed tones, muted tones, and skin tones. With this ban, tattooists believe that 65-70% of their palette of colours will be impacted.

Tattoo artists have highlighted that if a European-wide ban on the blue 15:3 pigment and the Green 7 pigments does come into play, it will have dire consequences for tattoo artists with O’Grady stating that it could result in thousands of closed studios:

“The EU have put in place a ban on the pigments used to make up most of the colours in Tattoo Ink and permanent make with a 12 month transition period. During this period, suppliers and users of these inks will have to make alternative arrangements. If it does go ahead after the twelve months it has the potential to be very damaging,” O’Grady of Be Pierced studios stated.

“Body modification is currently in the Top Seven fastest growing markets in the world. In Europe alone, approximately 12% of people have tattoos. Between 18 and 35 that number is significantly larger (40%) in the US, so the demand is quite high. Because of this, there are a lot more tattoo studios in Ireland right now than there was lets say 15 years ago. That is a lot of businesses that are going to be in trouble… extend that EU wide and you are looking at tens of thousands, maybe even upwards of 100 thousand closed studios.”

Liam highlighted that his Be Pierced business which operates in Wexford town is one of the lucky ones due to other avenues, but that it will still impact his turnover:

“My business will be still operational because the Tattoo side of things is only a part of what we do. Even before we introduced Tattoos to the studio, we were a stand alone Piercing Studio. We also sell a large selection of body jewellery in store and through the website across Ireland and Europe, but it will still hit the over all turnover of the business.”

Responding to the ‘adverse health effects’ and ‘cancer’ concerns, Liam stated that:

“What was said does have to be taken very seriously as it is a scary prospect, but unfortunately, the trials and tests they did didn’t actually determine anything. Even looking at the wording of what’s being said they are coming from a position of ‘may’ or ‘might’. That isn’t what you want to hear when the repercussions of this can be so devastating.

What has actually happened here is that the European commission had individual tests done on three of the chemicals found in those colours, but they didn’t actually test them in the skin or mixed with the other chemicals that make up the ink. Even the results they got from those tests were inconclusive so naturally they have been met with a massive backlash to this ban from professionals in the industry and other organisations that researched the data.”

“Dr Ines Schreiver of The German Federal Institute For Risk Assessment has said that it wasn’t possible to make a Health Risk Assessment based on the lack of data on the subject. Right now, there are petitions and meetings being set up to extend the transition period to allow for more time to do more stringent tests and trials and to allow manufacturers of the inks affected to find alternatives to offer. My fear is that these results might fall outside the transition period leaving us studio owners and others in the industry in a really bad position,” Liam O’Grady of Be Pierced concluded.

Tattoo artists are appealing to people to sign an online petition to help raise awareness to the damage that this could cause tattoo businesses across the EU.

They argue that the banning of the pigments “would jeopardise the existence of that sector” and “would have a lengthy negative impact on the economic competitiveness of European tattooists.”

At the time of writing, the petition has been signed by over 50,000 people. To sign the petition, click on the following link. Then, search 1072/2020 in the search bar, fill out the form, submit it for email registration, and then confirm registration.

Check out Liam’s online Be-Pierced store here.

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