Just in case you planned to get a tattoo on your eyes, you need to act faster. Washington lawmakers are considering a bill that will ban scleral tattoos in the state.
"In some ways, it seems like it could be humorous … but it's actually a serious thing," said state representative Steve Tharinger. "[…] It's pretty awful when you look at what can happen."
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] Tharinger represents Washington's 24th legislative area covering much of the Olympic Peninsula. He is one of 1
"The strict definition of tattoo is the introduction of pigment on the surface of the skin," said James Hillary, a Seattle-based tattoo artist. "But (tattooing), from what I understand is an injection of pigment using a syringe. So it actually uses medical devices to inject pigment into the white of the eye." Representative Tharinger says he's not familiar with how many people have practiced scleral tattoos in the Washington state or influenced by it in any way. He knows that horror stories have generated national headlines, and he feels worried about professionals as optometrists should be taken seriously.
"There is a real high risk of damaging your vision and your eye," Tharinger said. "The optometrists and ophthalmologists are very worried about what's going on and people are taking risks, they shouldn't have their eyesight."
"Even professionals, doctors, optometrists and ophthalmologists say this is such a delicate membrane that it is very easy if you inject fluid or color there to do damage to your eye," he said. "It's just too risky, professionals believe, so it's the concern that someone on an impulse might want to make their eyes bright purple, and eventually they may lose their sight."
HB 1856 will be heard in the Health and Wellness Committee this week, and could be reconciled by the committee on Friday. The Rules Committee in Parliament is the next stop.
James Hillary has been in the tattoo industry for more than 30 years and is currently working out of the Seattle Tattoo Emporium. He participates in a lot of international tattoo exhibitions and is familiar with the body's art trends.
He hasn't personally seen any scalar tattoo in the industry. In fact, he has only heard of what is happening in prisons and is surprised that it has received enough attention to be banned.
"It's a much newer thing and it's rarely astonished," Hillary said. "It seems a little ridiculous that it deserves the legislation."
"I don't quite see it with tattooing; it's such an outlier," Hillary said. "We do not get phone calls asking about it at all. I participate in major international tattoo conventions where you have people from all over the world showing their tattoo and practicing their tattoo and I have never seen this phenomenon."