May 19th, 2024

Tattoo artists ahead of the curve with safety

By Woodard, Dale on September 15, 2020.

Chris Kopera of Peppermint Hippo Tattoo applies some artwork to Steve Noel at the Lethbridge Windy City Tattoo Show Saturday afternoon at the Lethbridge Exhibition South Pavilion. Herald photo by Dale Woodard

Dale Woodard

Lethbridge Herald

Those interested in getting a little ink – or at least checking various options – headed to the Lethbridge Exhibition South Pavilion last weekend for the Lethbridge Windy City Tattoo Show.

For event organizer Ash Woods, that meant feeling a bit under the microscope considering the show was the first of its kind since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March.

“This is the first show in Canada for this size of a trade show or event, so I’m getting a lot of eyes,” said Ash, who is also the owner of Peppermint Hippo Tattoo in Lethbridge with her husband, Will. “But that’s OK because I’ve had nothing but smiles. Alberta Health Services was nothing but pleased and the Exhibition Ground has worked with me on this event and it has been gone very well.”

Still, given the circumstances, Woods said she felt like she was starting from scratch.

“This is our 13th year in Lethbridge and I honestly felt I was starting back at year one because of the new guidelines and the new rules,” said Woods. “Not that it was a huge change for us because we do follow a lot of the rules that were already set in place for COVID. But because people are unsure you have to start convincing people to come back out and have fun.”

The three-day event featured shopping contests, live shows and plenty of prizes for those checking out the vendors and the designs.

Though pandemic protocols have changed the way some businesses operate, it was business as usual for tattoo artists.

“So this COVID stuff for us isn’t new and I felt when everything got shut down, and we’d see certain stores still be open and the way they did their cross-contamination and their safety, it wasn’t really the way it should be done. It was kind of frustrating because we’ve been doing this every day for the last two decades. We’re not going to really do anything different. We’ve already been doing it the right way, but we’ll teach you how to do it the right way. Now that we’re back going again and people see it’s really nice because they realize that we’re super clean. We have to be, that’s our job.”

At the Bridge City Barbers & Style Lounge, owners and operators Tyler and Suzanne Brownfield noted a consistent flow of patrons as the event headed into its second day Saturday afternoon.

“There was a good steady stream of people and it was pretty busy. It was a smaller show than normal, but it’s been good,” said Tyler, adding last weekend was the third show Bridge City Barbers had done, but was the first tattoo show.

For the business that boasts a variety of beard options, that meant following basic pandemic rules.

“We’ve done markets before this and it’s the same thing, you’re just putting the hand sanitizer out and using masks and getting people to remember to use stuff before they touch things and cleaning up afterwards. It’s just taking the basic precautions,” said Tyler.

Chris Kopera, a tattoo artist at Peppermint Hippo Tattoo (, was happy to get the shows going.

“People have come back out and they have supported the show,” he said. “It’s great to see how many people have come out and supported it. It’s always a lot of fun, but the more the merrier. We are having a great weekend.”

Like Woods, Kopera said his procedures have remained the same since before COVID hit.

“It really hasn’t changed much at all because our industry, for as long as it has been around, has been self-regulated,” he said. “We still use topical surface cleaners (Cavicide) that have a contact time. They kill just about anything as far as what you can be infected by. The coronavirus being on the list of things that it effectively destroys. I’ve been using that for years and it has never changed.

“Gloves are always worn and everything is single serving and disposable units,” added Kopera. “When I’m done with this cartridge it will go straight into my sharps bin, which will be sent off to sharps disposal and that has always been something that is reliable and reputable.”

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