By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
While growing up in Miami Gardens, Biggie made lists of the tattoos she wanted. Her mom died when she was 4, and her twin sister died when they were teenagers. Of her five brothers, one is serving in Afghanistan, one is serving a life sentence, and she doesn't speak to another. All of this information drips out in a take-it-as-it-comes tone without a hint of self-pity. Biggie says she had two options in life upon graduating from William H. Turner Technical Arts High School in Miami: "get a security license or get a tattoo starter kit."
When the kit arrived, Biggie's on-again, off-again girlfriend volunteered her hip as a canvas. They scurried upstairs after the girlfriend's mom left for church one Sunday. Biggie wasn't entirely sure how to hold the machine; still, she managed to turn out a heart with a treble clef. Satisfied, she went to work on her own lower leg, etching a four-inch-tall Marvin the Martian into her dark-brown skin.
"I knew nothing about inks, and the kit came with cheap, water-based ink," she recalls. "I hated the color; it wasn't popping... I sat on my sister's porch and just scratched it and peeled off the skin. It burned; it got pink."
It healed, she did a touchup, and Marvin now looks OK. In the years that followed, Biggie did the Craigslist and word-of-mouth thing. She couldn't afford to do an apprenticeship — some shops offer them as unpaid internships, and other shops even make the apprentices pay. A break of sorts came last November, when she landed a chair at Ink Obsessions Mia. It seemed like an ideal first foray into legitimate tattooing.
The small shop pulls decent foot traffic with deals like 25 percent off for students and $250 full sleeves. Its ambiance is coarse, and the lack of a bathroom is perplexing. If someone needs to go, he has to leave the shop, walk next door to the Miami Sun Hotel, go down a long hallway, and explain to the lady at the front desk that he's from the tattoo shop. The owner of the hotel owns the property of the tattoo shop, so it's not entirely weird. It's unclear if this arrangement will meet the criteria under the new rules.
Biggie says she didn't mind putting in long hours — 11 or 12 a day on occasion — even though she cleared only a few hundred bucks a week (the shop took half of her revenue, which isn't unusual). Having to push two chairs together so people could lie down for certain tattoos wasn't a big deal either. It was the bathroom, or lack of one, that ended her run at the shop.
Biggie shifts her round eyes toward the ground to explain why she left. After not being allowed a bathroom break and having an embarrassing incident, she quit.
She has since been relying on word of mouth, Tumblr, and Craigslist to pull in a handful of clients each month. Told of the guild's plans to go after artists like her as well as shops like the one she worked at, Biggie shakes her head and says it doesn't make any sense.
"The only way I'd be able to pay tattooing fines," she says, "is by doing more tattoos."
What kind of guy cant find a job with a degree in the medical profession? That is the ONLY area hiring.
It someone can't get a job in the medical profession, then I sure as hell don't want him anywhere near me with a needle.
I am just fine with cheap dummies getting crappy tattoos from their buddies. No real harm done to anybody and it ought to be perfectly legal. The current law criminalizes what ought to be legal to the sole benefit of the current tattoo businesses.
That makes it obnoxious.
With tattoos, the old maxim is you get what you pay for. While your buddy may throw some ink on you for twenty bucks, most likely its gonna look like you payed twenty bucks on it an you will end up forking over more to make it look right.I have my loyalties to Formula Ink and I have seen some tattoos they have had to fix from some fly by night guy in a backroom. They are not expensive and go really good work. You might as well just go to a shop with an artist you like and have it done right the first time instead of suffering through some really bad ink.
Pimping out the entrepreneurs. A lot easier than earning money by working for it and the more competitors you can run out of business the better.
This whole scheme is merely a way to limit competition and run up the cost instigated by existing businesses and sold to do-gooders who have never ever seen a regulation they didn't love.
The losers are the public who has to pay more and small time tatooers who can't earn an income.
Damn liberals, lawyers, legislators and industry weasels. You ought to be able to buy a permit and hunt them.
This bill was made up by the tattoo guild for the purpose of better health regulation not to have more clientele for themselves. To me that's childish whining coming from most likely a "scratcher" whose portfolio wouldn't get him in the door of any decent tattoo shop. Cut the hippie crap out about the government too. But i digress, the fact is, its illegal to tattoo out of the house anywhere in America, and its fuckin easy here in FL to walk into a tattoo shop, even with a sub par portfolio and be hired on the spot. Of coarse you only get about 25 to 30 % cut of the tattoo and good luck with getting return customers. Facts are, you are lazy and couldn't handle a real apprenticeship because you were brought up with no morals or respect, and YOU are the "industry weasel" as you so elegantly put it. The fact is that Florida is the least regulated of all 50 states. I am from MA, and there you need a two years apprenticeship, blood borne pathogen, first aid and CPR training. A college level anatomy class just to get your license. SO quit whining!!! Secondly, tattoos have always been expensive!! Where the fuck have you been?? I have seen these 100 dollar half sleeves and 50 dollar portraits. To each his own if they like it and think it resembles whom ever but i bite my tongue if ever asked. on a side note: An apprenticeship isn't just to teach you to take a needle and make a line on skin. A real apprenticeship not only teaches the art form but the way to take care for the shop and everything in it. And later when you open up your own shop its second nature to run it. Secondly teaches you how to properly set up and break down a station with out cross contaminating everything as you go. Cause FYI: Aids isn't the killer you really need to be afraid of, its hep C. Hep can stay alive but dormant for 2 weeks, HIV dies instantly upon hitting the air. On the art side, teaches an artist to take what was drawn or brought in by a client and turn it into a tattoo-able design that will last the ages. Somethings that look good at the moment it is done can fall apart with years a wear on the skin.
You're an idiot. 95% of regulations exist because the people being regulated failed to act responsibly in the first place, usually leaving someone sick, injured or ripped off. There are scores of examples, the most recent being the "toxic tush" fake doctor who was injecting "Fix-a-Flat" into people's asses. I'm sure she envisioned herself to be a "freelance artist" as well.
Every trade that potentially impacts public health is licensed and regulated, whether the licensee is a brain surgeon, paramedic, or hair stylist. Similarly, dozens of skilled trades require certification and apprenticeship as well (electrician, carpenter, etc.). Are you seriously suggesting that someone who uses invasive techniques via thousands of needle pricks should be held to a lesser professional standard than any of these other examples?
If you want to continue playing the role of the poor victim whose "artistic expression" and earning ability are being stifled by "Da Man", then restrict your "art" to drawing on people with a handful of Sharpie markers. But if you want to be treated as a legitimately talented artist, then grow up and become professional about it the way thousands of others have done.
Besides, if it was YOUR arm rotting off with MRSA, I bet you'd be crying "There should've been a law!" and scrambling for one of those do-gooder liberal lawyers to file a $10 million liability suit on your behalf.