The artists who aren't following the industry's health standards now are usually people who aren't good enough to get hired at professional tattoo parlors, according to Coinin. He says a lot of those folks simply set up shop in their kitchen or basement and advertise cheap rates on the Internet.
According to Coinin, most legitimate tattoo studios are already doing a lot more in terms of training and health for customers (gloves, disposable needles, etc.) than the new regulations will require. "The industry has already evolved past [the standards set in the new legislation]," he argues.
When his dad first opened their Waterbury studio in 1976, he was making his own needles and his own tattoo dyes, Coinin points out. Now, there are all kinds of professional tattoo supply operations where up-to-date technology is easy to find.
The people who aren't following proper health and safety procedures are those dudes operating out of their homes, Coinin says. "There are unqualified people out there, but I don't know that this new law will be able to do anything about it," he adds.
The lack of any coordinated system for inspecting and regulating tattoo parlors in Connecticut has become painfully obvious, according to health officials and people in the industry.
Current law says that a physician is supposed to inspect a tattoo parlor at least once a year. Coinin says he's been paying thousands of dollars for years to have those inspections done, but no government official has (until very recently) ever checked to make sure those inspections were actually performed.
Allen says there has been "no communication between any of the agencies" that are supposed to be watching to make sure tattoo parlors and artists are protecting the public's health.
Allen says rates for tattooing are all over the place. He's been in the business for 13 years and just opened up his own shop in Enfield about a year-and-a-half ago.
Most commercial tattoo studios in Connecticut charge in the range of $100 to $120 an hour. But, he adds, "you can do whatever you want" in terms of rates, which can also vary depending on the experience and skill of the artist.
He's hoping that a more standardized system of regulation and control may also bring some more sensible pricing across the industry.
Allen insists he sees no downside to the new licensing and regulation system. He argues those fees shouldn't be a big deal to a legitimate tattoo shop that already has to pay lots of costs to operate a storefront. "It's not cheap," he points out.
"If you don't have the ability to pay for [the new licensing fees], what kind of business are you running?" he asks.
Tattooing has become big business, and some in the industry claim the state is simply looking to make some new money off the licensing fees. But Coinin cites a recent legislative analysis that estimated the potential overall cost to the state for the new regulatory system would be about $31,000 more in 2015 than the new fees would raise.
The money, argues Allen, is a secondary consideration.
"For the public's safety and health," he says, "this has to be taken care of."