BREMERTON -- Wearing latex gloves and using sterilized needles, Wesley Landsberger tattooed the English Premier League soccer logo on Daniel Eaton's forearm at his Wheaton Way shop on Wednesday.
It was business as usual for Landsberger, even though a new law that took effect Thursday changes the requirements tattoo artists and body piercers must have to do their work. Landsberger, who does both, is now required to have a license from the state to pierce or tattoo his customers.
He has applied for both licenses and will have to pay $250 apiece in fees as part of a bill passed in 2009 by the Legislature to provide some regulation of the industry.
In addition to the $500 Landsberger must pay to pierce and tattoo, he also is required to purchase a $300 license for the shop he owns, Dermawerx Tattoo.
"I've been hit with an $800 tax and I don't even know what I'm paying for," Landsberger said.
Washington, once one of just a few states that had no body-piercing or tattooing regulations, now is part of the 48 in the nation that do. North Dakota, New Mexico and the District of Columbia now stand alone in not having any regulation.
Despite Landsberger's reaction to the hundreds he'll shell out to be in line with the law, state Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, is happy to see his legislation finally enacted. He worked with a number of representatives and senators to develop a bill that would address health concerns in the tattoo and piercing industry.
"It's been a long time coming," Kastama said. "It was very much a fight to get this through the Legislature."
Along with the licensing fee, artists will have to earn a certificate that indicates they have been educated on blood-borne pathogens. Landsberger paid $20 for his certificate, which he earned online.
The new regulations also require tattoo and body piercing parlors to prove they have insurance. Their shops will be subject to inspection once every two years. Fees from the licenses will cover the costs of the inspections.
Washington's new requirements fall in the middle of the road compared with other states.
On the strict end, Oregon requires 368 hours of training at a state-approved school, followed by a written exam.
Tennessee requires a one-year apprenticeship with a tattoo artist who has been licensed in the state for at least three years.
On the loose end, Delaware's only regulation is the prohibition of tattooing minors.
Landsberger said he doesn't think Washington's regulations will accomplish the desired goal.
"If people are tattooing illegally, they're going to keep tattooing," he said.
"We go above and beyond to keep things sanitary," added George Wilkinson, a body piercer and tattoo artist at Dermawerx. "It's our health too."
Still, Kastama maintained that the new regulations will help minimize the risks of exposure to illnesses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and MRSA.