When Hemlock Tattoo Studio opened its doorways in Calgary in September 2020, its artists supposed to create an area in distinction to an trade they are saying is fraught with issues.
The tattoo store in Victoria Park payments itself as trauma-informed and consent-based.
“As a non-male one that entered the trade, I used to be instantly confronted with sexual harassment, and that could be a quite common story on this trade,” stated Janeen Scott, a tattoo artist and co-owner of the studio.
Scott and the opposite artists on the studio say mistreatment of all types — bullying, intimidation and harassment — can occur within the tattooing house to each artists and shoppers.
“You could have extra energy than the individual you are tattooing. And due to that, plenty of hurt can happen,” stated Scott.
Katie Seaside, a consumer, took a break from getting tattoos in Calgary after having unhealthy experiences with therapy in different outlets.
Seaside got here throughout Hemlock on TikTok, and after studying up on their insurance policies, quickly turned a daily.
“I may actually inform it was extra of a safer house … having the ability to be welcomed in, quite than being met on the door with somewhat little bit of hostility,” they stated.
What ‘trauma knowledgeable’ tattooing appears like
The store has posted insurance policies of zero tolerance for sexual abuse, harassment, racism and different oppressive behaviours. The insurance policies have been tailored from these on the LGBT Basis website.
“We’re actually following [our clients’] result in make them as comfy as attainable all through the tattoo course of,” stated normal supervisor Marlee Watts.
When shoppers e book, they’re provided an consumption type that features a part to reveal pronouns in addition to sensitivities they could have, like a necessity for privateness or accessibility lodging.
Shoppers can select to have a protected phrase or hand gesture that they’ll use to cease the tattooing course of for any purpose with out being embarrassed.
“Each a part of our course of is designed to greatest present consolation to the individual getting tattooed … whether or not it is managing ache, managing expectations, serving to them guarantee that they get the precise product that they are on the lookout for,” stated Scott.
There are additionally methods for shoppers to submit suggestions to the store’s supervisor or a third-party arbitrator if any points come up.
Tattooing completely different pores and skin varieties
A part of cultivating an inclusive house at Hemlock means educating employees on greatest practices for tattooing on all pores and skin tones, says Scott.
“The tattoo trade, in addition to being very male dominated, may be very white dominated,” stated Scott. She says this depart gaps in data and may perpetuate dangerous stereotypes.
To deal with this, the studio’s artists work to teach themselves.
They’ve taken a number of workshops, together with one with Ink the Diaspora, a corporation that challenges colourism within the trade.
When store co-owner Geneva Haley showcases her tattoo designs on-line, she shows them on quite a lot of pores and skin tones.
“The schooling is simply not there in plenty of the trade,” she stated.
‘Wild west’ tattooing
Haley says points within the trade additionally stem from there being no certification wanted to tattoo inside Alberta. There are Alberta Well being regulations for retailers, however all abilities are independently sought by artists.
Steve Peace is the proprietor of Immaculate Idea tattoo and piercing studio in Calgary. He began the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Competition in 2004.
“There aren’t any programs you want to take … there isn’t any overseeing physique for tattoo studios. It is what we name the Wild West, somewhat bit,” stated Peace.
Peace believes the onus is on store homeowners to set the parameters about what’s OK inside a studio, and on shoppers to discover an artist they’re comfy working with.
“I consider there are much more good artists on the market than individuals that may make you are feeling uncomfortable,” he stated.
Lexci Krahn owns Crimson Loon Tattoo and Piercing in Edmonton, an area she says is “protected and welcome” for ladies and LGBTQ2+ clientele and is accessible for individuals with disabilities.
Krahn began the Alberta Affiliation of Protected Physique Artwork throughout the pandemic to behave as an middleman between the provincial authorities and tattoo outlets making an attempt to implement COVID-19 security measures.
She believes the vast majority of tattoo studios within the province are locations the place shoppers can have constructive, protected experiences, and that when there are points in outlets, these locations are recognized about and averted.
“Tattoo studios in Alberta are protected and inclusive locations to be, and a few are safer and a few are extra inclusive than others,” she stated.
“Phrase of mouth means every little thing in our trade.”
For Hemlock artist Scott, she believes coverage and observe are tangible methods to handle issues that exist within the trade.
“Numerous individuals have had damaging experiences, so it is essential to me to be enjoying a task in and altering that and taking part in making that now not a sample,” she stated.