As medical professionals are running out of supplies such as gloves and masks, tattoo artists are stepping in to help. Tattooists around the country, who are mostly unable to work due to shops closing, are giving their protective gear to hospitals.
“Tattooers really understand the need for protective equipment,” said Michelle Myles, co-owner of Daredevil Tattoo in New York City. “We already operate with an awareness of blood borne pathogens and cross-contamination, and so we take a lot of precautions anyway in our day-to-day operations.”
Myles donated her gear after closing shop on March 13. Due to social distancing, it’s pretty much impossible to get body art right now, so shops across the country are stuck with an abundance of supplies that would be incredibly useful for those working in hospitals and other jobs requiring safety equipment.
“All the tattooers I know are super bummed to be home and not doing their jobs,” said Arwen Briem, owner of Minneapolis tattoo studio Art With A Point. He also donated his gloves, masks, and footwear.
“We’re professionals supporting other professionals. We all share an interest in the health and safety of our communities. I think there’s a tremendous amount of empathy there because we have the understanding of what’s going on,” he said.
A nurse practitioner recently contacted Karri Henning, owner of Cloud Nine Southside Tattoo & Body Piercing in Birmingham, Alabama to ask for help since her local emergency department was running out of supplies.
“I got some masks and stuff together for her. And I was like, ‘What about these isolation gowns?’ And she was like, ‘Oh, my God, I didn’t even think about you guys having those.’ Perfect,” said Henning.
“It’s monetarily nothing in comparison to the people’s lives that are at stake. It’s much more valuable that they be used by somebody who really needs them,” she added.
Buddy Wheeler, owner of two Tattoo Charlie’s shops in Kentucky, donated all of his medical supplies from one shop to a hospital in Louisville and the other shop’s supplies to a hospital in Lexington.
“Both hospitals were extraordinarily thankful and gracious. Actually, I got a call this morning from the Baptist hospital in Lexington thanking me again for bringing supplies and donating them yesterday. It’s a good feeling to help out like that,” Wheeler said.
Rob Massimiano, president of the Alliance of Professional Tattooists, is proud to see his industry selflessly give their supplies to those who need them during this time. He hopes their actions inspire others to follow suit.
“I’m proud of my friends. It’s a selfless act, because when it comes time to reopen, they will have to buy new supplies,” he said. “It’s heartwarming to see people step up and do the right thing.”