COVID-19 has impacted businesses on a global scale since its origins in Wuhan, China, back in November of 2019. Besides the hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide and the millions of lives affected in general, either by contracting the disease or being forced into mandatory lockdown, many have had to close their doors to the public for months, in order to help stop the spread and protect their customers, as well as themselves. Healthcare workers, who are usually overworked on the regular, have been deemed the frontline heroes, selflessly putting their own lives at risk to help others and working countless hours, with little to no sleep.
Others, deemed “non-essential” by their respective governments, have been required to completely shut down, affecting working capital, disrupting clientele and putting their business on the line. Tattoo shops are especially in distress, as the artist’s work involves being in close contact with blood, saliva and (on occasion) other bodily fluids for hours at a time. This put the sanitation of the shop, as well as the lives of the artists and clients, in jeopardy. Beginning in March, thousands of shops across North America shut down, almost overnight, in the hopes of halting the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
How Were Tattoo Artists Affected?
Due to the incredibly fast spike of Coronavirus cases worldwide, shops were compelled to cancel all upcoming appointments and close down for the foreseeable future. This left millions unemployed at one time, without any reassurance for the future. The biggest fear is not just the money lost during the time of closure. The real effects will be made clear once shops reopen but clients will stay locked at home out of fear or refuse to spend money on non-essential items or services. Getting tattooed is hardly a top priority, and this thought put many artists in an uncomfortable situation.
So how did tattoo artists cope with this? Many made it their mission to create beautiful artworks on other canvases. Drawing up flash sheets for future clients and creating and selling custom prints online or through social media became the new norm during the pandemic. This allowed tattooists to have a creative outlet while simultaneously making an income. This trend went on for months, with tattoo artists posting their designs and concepts on Instagram, working on their technique and staying connected with their clientele, allowing pre-bookings for future pieces and working on their online presence.
However, in most recent times, various governing bodies have approved of the reopening of tattoo shops and private studios, thanks to a multi-stage reopening plan. These proposals allowed varying industries to start operating once again but under new terms, and tattoo shops, piercing studios and spas have been allowed to reopen their doors starting July of 2020. But what does that mean for both the artists and the clients?
Depending on the country and/or state, there are a multitude of safety precautions in place, to help keep all parties safe during the process of getting a tattoo.
Firstly, all clients must have an appointment. Walk-ins, although a normal part of the tattoo industry, have been put on hold, as this involves dealing with too many customers in the shop at once. Walk-ins may break the mandatory social distancing protocols, which require people to stay at least two meters (six feet) away from each other.
Besides keeping your distance, handwashing and disinfecting with hand sanitizer is a must before walking into the studio and beginning your session. This is a basic hygiene procedure that should be followed regardless but is especially important during these unprecedented times.
Wearing a mask and/or face shield has also been deemed necessary, and many countries and states have even made it a by-law to wear one indoors, punishable by fines if caught without one. Wearing a mask is incredibly important, due to the nature of infection being through close contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person. Droplets are primarily transferred through coughing, talking and sneezing, causing airborne infection to impact everyone in its six-foot radius. Due to the Coronavirus’s contagious nature, shops are limiting how many people they allow in the studio at one time and discourage their customers from bringing friends and family to appointments, a practice that is usually accepted in small quantities. The time between appointments has also been extended, to allow an adequate amount of time to clean and disinfect every surface that may have been in contact with a previous client. A shop’s cleanliness and sanitary standards should already be their top priority, but the Coronavirus definitely bumps it up to another level.
Pre-screenings will be the new norm for the near future. Be prepared to sign forms, answer a multitude of questions, sign wavers and get your temperature checked via contactless thermometer guns. Although annoying, this is a small inconvenience to experience in the grand scheme of things, as these new protocols helps save lives and slow the spread of this infectious disease. It is well worth it, especially when getting a beautiful, custom piece of artwork tattooed on you forever.
Regardless of the current situation, a client’s health and safety is always of utmost importance, and tattoo artists are doing their absolute best to insure incredibly clean, constantly disinfected and highly sanitary conditions for everyone at all times. COVID-19 affects us all, so be courteous to your local shops and come prepared with a mask, sanitized hands and a good attitude.