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: