Florida's Underground Tattoo Artists Don't Care About New Laws; Neither Do Most Legitimate Artists

​It seems like there's a tattoo shop on every corner in Florida. Along boardwalks, boozed-up tourists can get an offensive T-shirt, a bong, and a tattoo all in one shop. There are posh parlors that charge $500 for an hour of work and so-called artists that'll give you a lifelong regret for the cost of the needle and ink. 

Now, for the first time, Florida is requiring that all tattoo artists and shops be registered with the Department of Health. That's just one stipulation of new industrywide regulations that took effect this year.

But crafting legislation for a postfringe art form steeped in rebellion proved as contentious as one would imagine. It took two legislative sessions to pass the bill, along with heaps of infighting. In the coming months -- a full two years after the bill was approved -- county health departments will finally start enforcing the thing. 

As detailed in this week's feature, there are plenty of underground artists who seem unfazed by the laws and unlikely to fall into compliance. There is, however, one industry group that seems intent on using the new law to stamp out these unlicensed artists who advertise on Craigslist and inject ink into human skin from the comfort of their kitchens. 

Some call them scratchers. Others say they're bona fide artists. Take a step into the underground tattoo scene and decide for yourself. 

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