Local tattooists navigate the effects of COVID-19
Local tattooists navigate the effects of COVID-19

Local tattooists navigate the effects of COVID-19

While the COVID-19 pandemic increased the purity factors around the country, many tattoo shops in Albuquerque already followed these standards. Now, however, artists are navigating problems with their own security factors, increased supply chain prices, and a changed social atmosphere in their stores.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, artists had to be extremely careful about sterilization, according to All Is One Tattoo artist Bianca Sanchez, so increased hygiene was nothing new to her.

“It’s not too different just because everything is already pretty clean … We have to disinfect (tools) out of sight and stuff like that, so the only difference is actually masks,” Sanchez said.

For Statut St. Louis, a tattoo artist at Cheeky Monkey Tattoo, made the COVID-19 pandemic make him realize how unhygienic a tattoo without a mask actually is.

“Now, even though we’re not required to wear masks if I get a tattoo, I have one because you’re right on top of someone,” said St. Louis. “And the purity factor of not breathing on their open wounds has been a real insight for me through this.”

Elvis Shirley, a local tattoo artist at Stay Gold Tattoos, said the nature of the tattoo forces a close closeness between the artist and the client, which is nerve-wracking when you do not know how careful the client is.

“It’s been difficult because you’re always afraid you can get a contract (COVID-19) because you’re dealing with so many people, and it’s hard to keep track of how many of those people did things, “Shirley said.

St. Louis said he is dealing with frustrations from customers due to price increases in his store, which has added another layer of difficulty to his work. He said there have been increased costs for supplies, such as paper towels and gloves, due to COVID-19-related supply chain issues.

“As artists, our supplies have tripled in cost in many places. And so it’s had to somehow increase our minimal set-up costs and stuff like that,” St. Louis said.

Oshun Rappa, who first started tattooing during the pandemic and works at Ace Tattoo, sees the COVID-19 pandemic as something of a blessing in disguise. Being forced not to work and receiving unemployment allowed her to switch careers out of the service industry.

“It gave me a lot of time to focus on (art) because I was literally unable to work. And before now, I always balanced working in the restaurant industry with learning, or before that I was in college, ”said Rappa.

There has also been a change in the atmosphere in his store, primarily due to fewer people in the salon at any given time, according to Shirley.

“It’s definitely changed a lot the way we interact with each other and even with customers. You know, before (the pandemic) a tattoo shop was lively,” Shirley said.

Some people have just been excited about coming back to tattoo parlors to get therapeutic relief and to reconnect with people after living in a pandemic for so long, according to St. Louis.

“(To) get to talk to more people and hear their experiences and share our different experiences with COVID and shutdowns and different losses and gains that we have all had through, it has certainly been therapeutic for many of our clients and also for us, ”said St. Louis.

Madeline Pukite is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @maddogpukite

Mackenzie Schwartz is the photo editor at Daily Lobo. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ mackenzid5

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