ADA — Oklahoma legislators passed a bill legalizing tattoos, but tattoo shops will have to follow strict guidelines to apply their artistic creations to their customers. The bill took effect Nov. 1, and Jombus Inc. and Ladder 39 Ink, local tattoo shops, are preparing their facilities to ensure they are up to code.

Tim Mankin, owner of Jombus, said he is confident of his shop’s ability to conform to the rules. “We want to continue setting the standard for quality and cleanliness in Ada,” he said. His shop has already been inspected by a McAlester Health Department employee. Mankin said the only things he needs to do in order for his shop to meet regulations is to install hand-washing sinks, raise the dividing walls three and a half feet and place antibacterial soap at every station.

Mankin said the regulations will improve his business. “People will feel safer about getting a tattoo.”

Rules specified by the new law include tattoo artists taking CPR, blood borne pathogen and first aid classes, and receiving Hepatitis B vaccinations. Artists must prove they are working under an approved apprentice program, have sufficient work experience, and/or pass a competency test given by the state. “Each artist at Jombus will take the competency test or they will not work here,” Mankin said.

“It (regulations) is all really new and I think they [the state] are still trying to figure it out,” he said.

This is frustrating for some Oklahoma shops. “We want to comply and are trying to comply, if we know what to comply with,” said Jessica Harrell, owner of Ladder 39 Ink, along with her husband Robert. She said her confusion stems from several different regulation forms she has received from the Oklahoma City Health Department. “We need to have regulations to keep people safe,” Harrell said. What she did not understand was why the regulations have to be so complicated.

Harrell said she has remodeled her shop and moved next door to have separate work stations, based only on the written regulations. “We need to get someone out here to tell us exactly what they want,” she said.

Jombus manager Katie Carter had been trying for two months to get a health department official to inspect the shop. She finally received word, and an inspection will take place Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Oklahoma was the last state to legalize tattoos, and now that it is legal Oklahoma artists can have a career in their home state. “Once you find something you love doing it is hard to do anything else,” said Jombus tattoo artist Rick Lemons.