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Amateur tattooing is illegal, and dangerous

Can an unlicensed tattoo artist tattoo somebody with the person's consent and if the person signs a contract stating the tattoo artist is unlicensed and doing it for practice and the person signs and dates the contract and is age 18 or older?

— Asher, by email

An unlicensed person cannot give someone a tattoo, so put away your tattoo needles, Asher.

Oregon requires tattoo artists to be trained and licensed — and for good reason.

As part of state requirements, tattoo artists need bloodborne pathogen training and certification, according to the Oregon Health Authority Health Licensing Office.

Tattoo artists are often exposed to blood on the job, putting them at risk of exposure to hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases caused by bacteria and viruses carried in the blood, according to companies that offer certification.

A tattoo artist could become infected in many ways, including from a puncture with a contaminated needle or from having contaminated blood or other bodily fluids contact eyes, mucus membranes, sores, scrapes, acne, blisters or sunburned skin, according to certification companies.

Tattoo artists have to know how to protect themselves from infection and to handle and dispose of contaminated materials properly, the companies say. Additionally, they need to know how to keep their customers safe from infection.

Tattoo artists also have to complete cardiopulmonary resuscitation and basic first aid training, according to the OHA Health Licensing Office.

To become a legal tattoo artist in Oregon, you also need to complete an approved training program from a licensed tattooing career school. The program must include 360 hours of training, and the student must document a minimum of 50 completed tattoo procedures, plus pass written exams, according to the state Health Licensing Office.

Alternately, you can submit proof of your license from another state that has substantially similar requirements and submit a passing score from a written exam.

Other state requirements are that the tattoo artist be age 18 or older and have a high school diploma or general education degree, also known as a GED.

For more information on going legit with your tattoo aspirations, visit www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/HLO/Pages/Board-Body-Art-Practitioners-Tattoo-Artists-License.aspx.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.