TPIU Annual General Meeting

The TPIU annual general meeting will happen on Monday 1st September at 12 noon at the Marx Memorial Library in Farringdon, London (nr Farringdon tube and between Kings Cross and Liverpool Street mainline stations).

As well as executive committee re-elections (President, Vice President, Treasurer, Press Officer and Secretary), there will be presentations on the work achieved by the TPIU in the last year, the Tattoo Hygiene Rating Scheme, media interest in us and the industry, and training courses events for members’ continuing professional development.

We hope to see you there – to reserve your place, please email

Legal support for members

The TPIU is part of the GMB, and they have just launched UnionLine, the UK’s first wholly trade union owned law firm. Union Line provides every legal and accident service you need, when you need it. TPIU members can call UnionLine on 0300 333 0303.

Agenda for Monday 12th May 2014

The agenda for Monday’s meeting will include:

  • Inoculations for practitioners
  • Primary Authority partnership implementation and funding
  • Welsh Assembly’s consultation on the Public Health White Paper
  • Potential EU regulations affecting the industry and how we can influence them
  • TPIU training events

Next TPIU meeting

The next TPIU meeting will be held at 12 noon on Monday 12th May 2014 at the usual venue of the Marx Memorial Library in Farringdon, London. On the agenda so far, we have:

    • Primary authority partnerships
    • TPIU training events
    • Plans for the summer AGM

At the summer AGM, we will be including the annual vote on committee members, so start thinking about being involved? Maybe you want to stand for election? Start thinking and get involved.

Cross Contamination Training Event

The TPIU is holding a training event on best practice for dealing with cross contamination and the managing its risks in the studio. Attendance on the course is recommended for apprentices and anyone wanting to refresh their skills in line with the new tattoo and piercing toolkit. The course will be facilitated by former TPIU president Marcus Henderson and current TPIU vice-president Cilla North.

The training takes place at the village meeting hall in Teynham, Kent (a short train ride from Charing Cross and London Bridge train stations) on Wednesday 26 February 2014.

Morning – 1000-1300hrs

Afternoon – 1400-1700hrs

For TPIU members, the course costs £25 – which can be claimed back on your income tax as this counts as part of your continuous professional development. To reserve your place, please email stating your name, studio you work for, a preference for either the morning or afternoon session.

The next TPIU meeting

The next TPIU meeting is on Monday 2nd December at the Marx Memorial Library in Farringdon, London at 12 noon. On the agenda are:

  • Working with EHOs on the best practice guidance
  • The situation in France re. banning coloured tattoo inks
  • Working with an internet documentary maker on a short film

If you’d like to attend, please contact us via FB or Twitter to reserve your place.

French Error in Legislation

The French government has enacted legislation based on no scientific basis or rationale. The TPIU will work hard to stop anything like this happening in the UK to our industry.

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How the TPIU supports members

The TPIU recently supported a member who wrote back to us with these very lovely words:

“A customer decided to take me to court as his expectations were not met in the tattoo cover-up I did for him. After 7-8 months of worry and NO support from the FSB [Federation of Small Businesses] or insurance companies, the TPIU were hugely supportive. If the case had not been thrown out of court, the TPIU would have accompanied me to court and provided professional support and expert witnesses. The feeling of having the support of my peers in my hour of need is priceless. Thank you TPI.”

The TPIU is here to help and support its members – and it is great that we not only helped professionally but were also able to help reduce the stress this person was under at the time.

TPIU Response to Underage Tattoo

The British tabloid paper The Daily Mail published this article on 24th August 2013 about a fourteen year old child who was tattooed by a scratcher who had bought a cheap tattoo kit from eBay. Ross Richardson was prosecuted and fined £40 plus costs. This was a very light punishment for someone breaking the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969.

The TPIU has previously approached eBay to ask them to ban the selling of cheap tattoo kits, as it leads to untrained scratchers tattooing underage children in unhygienic surroundings, reusing needles and caps which can lead to serious infections, including hepatitis and HIV. Management at eBay have so far refused to consider this – which can only lead to more incidents like this one.

Operator Guidance Document Launched Online

The Tattoo & Piercing Industry Union has been working closely with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Public Health England and the Health & Safety Laboratory to produce a document that gives practical help and advice for tattooists and piercers in running a safe and hygienic studio. It has taken several years of work across several public organisations (as well as the TPIU) as every piece of advice has been academically researched, cross referenced and validated.

This document will also be distributed to Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) so that they are aware of the standards required – and so that studios know what EHOs are looking for during inspections.

The Operator Guidance can be downloaded here for free, and includes the main toolkit, checklists and posters.

Next Meeting

The next TPIU meeting is at 12 noon on Monday 30th September at the Marx Memorial Library in Farringdon, London. If you’d like to attend, you can reserve your place by emailing

You can find directions to the Marx Memorial Library and details about its history here.

New Committee & Latest News

Hello all

The TPIU AGM happened on 29th July 2013 and a new committee was elected and is currently:

    • President: Rik Stevens
    • Vice President: Cilla North
    • Treasurer: Chris Bloomfield
    • Secretary: Caz Old
    • Press Officer: Chic Child

 A lot was also discussed, especially the new operator guidance, recruitment and membership communication. There’s a lot of changes coming and the update of this website is just the start! So stay tuned!

The website should be easier to navigate now, with clearly marked pages for downloads and links, the TPIU ‘about us’ and all sorts of useful information. The TPIU committee are going through the website page by page to make sure it is all as up-to-date and relevant as possible. We know that our communication has needed some work for a while now and are finally getting on top of it all. Our Twitter and Facebook pages are up and running too, so please check them out, and follow and like us there too!


Throughout 2012 the TPIU has continued to assist and support its members with various issues that arise from the day-to-day running of busy studios up and down the country. Such as problems with EHO’s, licensing/registration issues, advising on legal matters etc. as well as offering assistance and advice on studio set up, equipment and ways to improve operational standards.

TheTPIU has liaised closely with the CIEH (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health), HPA (Health Protection Agency) and the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) on the development of the new Operator Guidance document which is due for national release early in 2013. This will be the industry standard and be used by EHO’s across the country to ensure that they’re all working to the same guidelines.

CIEH (Wales) have asked the TPIU to assist and support in a pilot scheme (initially in Wales) which will be a star rating scheme (participation will be voluntary) similar to that which currently operates in food handling businesses. This scheme will enable the public to easily identify studios that achieve high operational standards.

CIEH Wales have also been one of the most active in the country with finding and prosecuting scratchers, which can only be a good thing. This is something that they plan to continue throughout 2013. Remember there is a ‘Scratcher Catcher’ form available to download from the TPIU website. The TPIU have continued to highlight the scratcher/ unlicensed/ unregistered operator issue and are pleased to see this matter finally being taken seriously by the relevant authorities, and we hope to see further action to combat this ongoing problem. There will also be multi-media campaigns to make the public aware of the potential dangers to their health by using unlicensed scratchers.

2013 will herald the start of TPIU run training days and seminars aimed at members of the industry (registered or licensed) who wish to improve their knowledge in various topics surrounding our industry such as, First aid, infection control, record keeping etc.

As always the Union is only as good as its membership. We always need active support and assistance from everyone working in this business, from the receptionist to the cleaner! If you are already a member please try and get along to some meetings and have your say. If you’re not a member, JOIN! Come along and have your say. We are the only organized group of tattoo artists and body piercers that are in a position to really influence the future of our industry.

The TPIU is a democratic trade union. One member one vote.

Download a membership form.


The meeting on 21st January 2013 has been rescheduled. The next meeting is on Monday the 25th of February 12 noon. The Marx Memorial Library, 37A Clerkenwell Green City of London, London, Greater London EC1R 0DU. All members are welcome and encouraged to attend !

Brighton Tattoo Convention

REALLY pleased to hear that Woody who organises The Brighton Tattoo convention is making the supply area strictly trade only ! This will obviously hit his and the traders pockets. Putting you principles above your profit is a noble move and one to be applauded ! So all Professional Artists attending Brighton Convention please support this move and help show that a convention trade area can be run both ethically and still be profitable!

TPIU condemns ‘My Tattoo Addiction” Channel 4 TV documentary

The TPIU joins the majority of the tattoo industry in condemning Thursdays channel 4 ‘educational ‘documentary wholeheartedly.

After several years of hard work in conjunction with government agencies to formulate a ground breaking audit tool, which is due for imminent nationwide release, this programme just served to highlight why such improvements in industry standards are desperately needed.

Bringing poor working practices, poor standards of artwork and people with life issues together to form the basis of ‘education’ is a complete misnomer and simply serves to continue the stereotype which tattooists and tattoos aficionados are striving to distance themselves from.

As usual cheap, sensationalist programme making and lazy journalism is top of the agenda, with absolutely no intention of ‘educating’ anyone.

Channel 4 continues in its quest for gutter press television and yet again succeed to enrage a group of professionals who deserve much more respect for their dedication to their industry and craft.


From the committee of the Tattoo and Piercing Union



Monday 8th of October 2012
12 o clock noon

Marx’s Memorial Library

37a Clerkenwell Green




To discuss a new audit tool, designed to help piercing and tattoo artists when dealing with local environmental health officers by demonstrating good hygiene levels in your studios.

The audit tool has the potential to drastically change how the industry runs itself, how we interact with local government and further impact on the kitchen sink scratchers who damage the industries reputation.

Members old and new please come along to the meeting, have your say and help influence how the TPIU represents you with local and central government.

Tattoo & Piercing Industry Union (TPIU) reply to Tony Parsons

 The piece entitled ‘Making my skin crawl: Tattoos scream for attention’ by Tony Parson for the Mirror, is yet another in a long list of ill-judged, non-researched, self opinionated articles by a jaded fleet street hack who seems to think that the red top readers actually value their narrow minded point of view.

The British value their freedom of choice, their right to be able to look how they want to look, to express their inner self, in whatever way they feel. Whether it’s the young punks of the seventies with their multi coloured Mohawks, or the old seventy year olds with their purple rinse, it’s their own choice. Tattoos are the same. They are the choice of the wearer, the life changing choice they have made to permanently mark their skin with whatever design they feel is right for them at that time in their life. It may be to mark the birth of their child, the death of a relative or the face of a hero, but it’s a choice made by them, for them. It’s not for Tony Parsons or anyone to judge their artwork or their choices. He or you may not like their design, but that’s neither her nor there. You may feel obligated to comment or criticize but after all is said and done; the person wearing the tattoo is the only one that matters.

One of our most successful tattoo artists in this country, Sean ‘Woody’ Wood has probably the most offensive tattoos you’ll ever see (Google him), they shock, they create discussion, they offend, but they are his choice. If you take the time to talk to him, you’ll find one of the sharpest minds, a superb artist who is highly intelligent, eloquent and knowledgeable. His choice of tattoo does not define him.

The art of tattoo has now risen to the level of fine art. Pick up any tattoo magazine and you won’t find any three year old’s finger paintings or cartoons done by people that flunked their art GCSE. The sheer quality of work being done around the world is astonishing; it’s wildly creative, incredibly skillful, eye-wateringly beautiful and way beyond the ‘Popeye’ art that Tony seems to remember.

We in the tattoo industry probably like David Beckham a bit more than Tony doesn’t. The England star has almost single handedly brought tattoos into the public and press consciousness, and as well as looking like a cool dude with immeasurable sex appeal (for both sexes), probably couldn’t care less what anyone else (apart from Victoria) thinks about him.

Do Cheryl’s tattoos make her any less appealing and sexy? A quick straw poll would always reveal not one bit. Military wife Samantha is so obviously proud of her ink; she took the opportunity to show it off to the world. Do her tattoos make her a bad singer or bad mother or wife? Of course not. To judge these people on just their decorated bodies alone is the mistake a lot of narrow minded, petty people make.

Oh dear, Mrs. Cameron’s got a dolphin tattoo, that’s not going to bring down the government now is it. Mr. Cameron I’m sure secretly admires his wife’s decision to get tattooed, and may even find her sexier for it! And the side swipe at the Sun journo who got into Ascot and showed off her body art is just so lame, come on Tony you can do a bit better…!

Mr. Parsons seems to think the tattooed people are trying to be individual, but these days it’s almost turned around, it’s almost more about being ‘IN’ the tattooed world, and part of the ever-growing popularity of the art of tattoo. The final and most offensive sentence by Mr. Parsons: a tattoo makes you look a thicko. You’ll all look silly when you’re sixty, is possibly the worst example of the lazy journo who can’t wait to get down the pub for opening time. It’s clear he doesn’t like tattoos, but can’t be bothered to do any research or understand exactly why. I don’t like brown corduroy trousers, but I don’t want to push my views in a mainstream newspaper. I have that choice, but I choose to keep my views to myself. I’d advise Tony to take a deep breath, maybe shake his head, have a little mutter to himself and just get on with something else, because tattoos will just continue to get more popular, more in your face and there’s very little he can do about it, because it’s not his choice, it’s ours.

• The Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union (TPIU) is constantly working with government ministers and environmental health services to ensure that the tattoo industry standards are maintained, constantly scrutinized and where necessary improved. We are continuing our efforts to educate the public on the dangers of poorly executed tattoos and the possible health implications of using unlicensed practitioners.

Annual General Meeting 2012

The AGM for the TPIU will be held on Monday 18 June 2012 at 12 o’clock at the Marx Memorial Library in London.

As well as the usual AGM business (voting of positions etc.), there will be talks relevant to the industry – not just the union. More details once speakers are confirmed.

ALL TPIU all members are welcome and encouraged to attend.

One item for the AGM agenda is nominating regional representatives to represent the
TPIU at conventions etc., as well as being a local point of contact for members, EHOs etc

Tattoo and Body Piercing, Skin Piercing Activities Steering Group.

On Monday the “3rd of April Mark Henderson and Ric Stevens of the T.P.I attended the most recent meeting of the Tattoo and Body Piercing, Skin Piercing Activities Steering Group. They met with members of The Health Protection Agency, (H.P.A) and The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, (C.I.E.H).

The Code of Practice developed by the T.P.I is currently being expanded, this entails all the information it contains being scrutinised with full academic rigour. The final document will be fully referenced and badged by the TPI, HPA, HSL  and the CIEH.

The launch date should be September this year.


26th June 2012  8pm

@ DRAKES 9 Fairmedow Maidstone Kent ME12 1JP



An open invitation for all registered tattoo and piercing professionals to an informal meet and greet.

Lead members of the T.P.I committee will be on hand, to let you know what the union has been doing and what our plans for the future are, as well as to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.

Find out how you can get involved and have a very real and positive chance to affect the future of our industry.




MEMBERS ONLY ( Except by prior arrangement and invitation.)

The next TPI meeting is Monday 5th March at The Carl Marx library 37A Clerkenwell Green Greater London EC1R 0DU. From 11am till 2.00pm.
It would be fantastic to see some new faces!

The TPI is currently working on a number of national projects, this is a good opportunity to come along, have your say and get involved with helping to shape the future of our industry.

Illegal tattooist on assault charges

An unlicensed home tattooist has been prosecuted for actual bodily assault on two vulnerable young people in what is believed to be one of the first prosecutions of its kind in the UK.

Take a look at the The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health’s website for the full story.


In order to make reporting this matter more official and effective the T.P.I.U Has produced a form for free download.

This should be printed out and sent by by post to both your local Environmental Health Officer (E.H.O.) Their address will be available from your local county council.


The T.P.I.U 54 ST Peters Street, Canterbury, CT1 2BE.


Tattoo Training Debate on the BBC

A representative of the TPI was asked to attend a debate on the issues of lack of formal qualifications and structured training in Tattooing.

Emails were sent out to our members asking for feedback and comments on the following points:

Why isn’t there a nationally recognised qualification for tattooist and should there be one?

What should happen next to try and get one (if, in principle, you think there should be one)?

What do local authorities check for at the moment (and how might this change in the future with best practice code)?

How can the consumers know that they are going to be safe when they go into a tattoo studio? Also related to this is the problem of unregulated tattoo equipment and tattooists


I would like to thank everyone that took the time to give us there thoughts.

The debate was attended by Nick Reed (Skunx Tattoo) ,Lal Hardy  (New Wave Tattoo), Andrew Griffiths (Principal Policy Officer for The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) and Marcus Henderson (The Pearl Tattoo and 777 Body Piercing). The Debate was hosted by Jessica Jane Clemont, and is to feature in a forthcoming series on BBC3.

The crux of the debate was trying to establish the guests opinions on wether there should be a government approved qualification for tattooing.

The host produced a number of photographs of the sort of horror stories that we in the trade see on a regular basis, and from this she concluded that a government approved qualification would prevent such things from happening, she was unaware of the fact that a large portion of the awful work that is out there has been perpetrated by kitchen wizards and ebay wannabes.  That is not to say that there are not “Professional ” studios out there that also churn out scratchy, inferior work on a regular basis, but at the very least these “chop shops” will have been inspected by there local EHO so there should be some basic cross contamination procedures in place to prevent them from passing on BBV,s to their clientele and until there is a system to assess the technical competence of new practitioners the public will need to take more responsibility in researching where and where not to get their work done. The notion that a government approved training course would solve this problem was overwhelming rejected by the panel (and our members). Who are all adamant that apprenticeship based learning is the only way to properly teach the craft. However, something that was a pleasant surprise to learn from our dialogue with TPI members and also from other non TPI tattooists was the willingness and often eagerness to attend training days and seminars on various aspects of the trade, such as, sterilisation and decontamination, cross contamination avoidance, Risk assessment and record keeping, relevant first aid training etc.

In addition to this we are all seeing the effect that the so called Tattoo and piercing academy,s are having on our already overcrowded business, saturating the high streets with poorly trained inexperienced hopefuls that think because they have completed a five minute training course that they are now able and “Qualified” to open shops and unleash themselves on the unsuspecting and often ignorant public, and worse still an uninformed member of the public may choose to favour a studio that proudly displays its “Joe Bloggs” tattoo academy Diploma because they are not aware that these certificates are meaningless pieces of paper that are not recognised by either industry or Government.

It is being widely suggested by our members and also outside the TPI that we as an industry unite to speak out against the vampires that are feeding on the industry by creating these half baked, meaningless and inadequate training courses.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or suggestions on these or any other issues regarding Tattoo or Body piercing.


Tpi members database

Could all members please forward your email address to so that a database can be set up to contact our members by email.

Please note that there have been problems with the GMB not listing TPI members to the TPI which means they have stayed GMB members, hence have had no correspondence or contact from the TPI. Anybody who has experienced a problem with lack of contact or knows of anybody who has had this problem whether they are a past or present member, we urge you to contact us by phone 07518 629386 or email as soon as possible.


Code Of Practice


Over the last year, members of the TPI have been working with Dartford Bourough Council to produce a Code of Practice for Skin Piercing activities (Tattoo, body piercing and acupuncture). All of these practices have the puncturing of the skin and the risks associated with working with Body Fluids (blood and serum etc) in common. So it makes perfect sense for common codes of practice to be in place for the protection of both the practisioner and the client.

The final draft is close to being ready so any members that have not read the document are invited to request a PDF to be sent to them so that their feedback can be taken into account.

All requests to: