TATTOOING maybe the latest celebrity craze but Bay artists have warned that being inked under age is illegal.
Shelly Gallon, joint owner of Rose Tattoo in Paignton, said a steady stream of youngsters come into the studio wanting to be tattooed illegally. She said many of them have already been inked and want unsightly work covered up.
Body artists from across the Bay are trying spread the message that it is illegal for anyone under 18 to be tattooed, even with their parent's consent.
Shelly said: "I am not interested in pointing the finger but I want to advise people that underage tattooing is illegal. It does not make a difference if you have your parent's consent."
She is also concerned about bad tattooing and said 'cheap is not always best'.
"People need to think about looking through an artist's portfolio before getting something done to make sure they are doing good work," she added.
Shelly said if an underage person wants a bad tattoo covered there is nothing they can do.
"The number of people coming through the door underage could be party to do with the rise of reality TV tattooists and celebrity culture. At least if you are 18 it is legal and you may have thought about it a bit harder," she said.
Phill Bond owns a studio bearing his name in Torquay. He has been tattooing for more than 40 years and has had the studio for almost three decades.
He said he sees youngsters coming into the shop looking for a tattoo, but doesn't think the problem is isolated to the Bay and happens across the country.
"There is a sign in our waiting room saying we do not tattoo anybody underage," he said.
"But we still get youngsters coming in and asking for a tattoo. When you ask them for ID they say they already have a tattoo. That is not ID.
"If you go into a pub and get asked for ID to buy a drink saying that you have been drinking somewhere else is not proof that you are 18.
"There are always going to be people who get tattooed underage no matter what. People come into the studio and we say no. But they will go somewhere else and get tattooed by someone with less customers."
Adam Harris, of New Tribe Tattoo in Brixham, echoed these sentiments saying that if someone wants to get tattooed underage they will find a studio that will do it for them.
He said he doesn't get many underage people inquiring in the shop because he has a two month waiting list.
He said: "We get two or three inquiries a day via our website from people asking how old they need to be to get tattooed. When you tell them 18, rather than saying thank you, people argue about it. People do not understand the law. It is illegal to get a tattoo if you are under 18."
Torbay Council issue tattooist licences, a spokesman said: "Running a tattooing business requires a licence. It is illegal for tattoos to be applied to a person under the age of 18, and doing this would be in breach of the licence.
"We would take any complaint we receive very seriously, although at this time we have no current complaints about any of our premises."