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Ben Shaw
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Ben Shaw: Uniting the Tattoo Industry to Protect its FutureC

Tattoo art is one of the most creative and intimate forms of art. It portrays pride and passion. It is powerful as it decorates the body and enhances the soul. More importantly, it differentiates itself as a career that needs safety precautions regarding needles, their use and a need for a hygienic environment. The government has instituted rules to protect community members and regulate this fast-growing industry. Unfortunately, many tattoo artists do not follow these rules, which allows outside entities and regulators to take advantage of body art.

Ben Shaw is a passionate tattoo artist who creates complex designs to dazzle his clients  while he promotes safe and ethical work by uniting other tattoo artists in the industry in one voice to fight for their rights and ability to work safely and professionally.

Twenty-three (23) years as a tattoo artist, Ben resides in Mexico and owns a tattoo shop (Archetype Tattoo). He started tattooing professionally in 2000, and as he grew in experience in this industry, he became more cautious of how sensitive human skin was. 

Ben promoted affluence in this industry through education, charity, and a health conscience practice. As he did this, he became more involved in the 2015 legislative session and was honored to address New Mexico’s senate and House of Representatives to pass senate bill 275. Ultimately, this initiative created a regulation board called the Board of Body Art Practitioners. This board is suited to license body artists in New Mexico effectively.

The US Federal government signed the MOCRA law (Modernization of Cosmetic Regulation Act) on 29th December 2022, which allows the FDA to scrutinize the ingredients used in all tattoo products, which will affect their livelihood via regulations, access, and how much the artist purchases their supplies. Ben, a founding member of Launchpad, an online discourse group for vetted Tattoo professionals, believes that artists have the power to dictate things pertaining to their crafts through cooperation and learning the ropes of the law-making process. As a community builder, he is determined to do this as the state representative for the Alliance of Professional Tattooist (APT), where the artists can build a database of regulations credentials in their country.

His tattoo studio and its artists have been labeled the best tattoo shop for the last four years, by a reputable publication in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ben also co-founded the guild of ethical tattooists, an education organization built to safeguard the public against unprofessional tattooing. Additionally, he lobbied for Senate bill SB275, which effectively created the board of Body Art practitioners and was the board chairman of the body art board until 2019, serving as an advocate for safe tattooing from 2013-2019.

Having worked closely with the government, Ben has received rejection among his fellow tattoo artists as they fear regulation or actions that threaten their sense of security. As a result, they’ve grown to be non-compliant. However, through hard work and perseverance, he had convinced many community members of the inherent benefits of the enacted measures.

Ben says that to become a great leader, you have to be patient and allow people to internalize “what you are sharing”, and they will eventually follow. He says unity is strength and believes that his fellow artists will join hands to fight for their industry.

In the future, he aspires to continue pushing for a movement that unifies his colleagues by speaking at tattoo conferences, educating them on how to grow together as artists and representing their interests to the FDA and the Federal government. Ben wants regulators and tattoo supply manufacturers to be on the lookout, knowing that the tattoo industry is more united now than they’ve ever been and ready to fight for their rights.

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