New Illinois Tattoo Law

New Illinois Tattoo Law

Carbondale, IL  -- Governor Rod Blagojevich vetoed a measure that would have dropped the legal age limit to get a tattoo from 21 to 18.  The law would have also made penalties stiffer for artists who tattooed minors under the age of 18.

Even with stiffer penalties for breaking the law, the governor vetoed the measure.  "When you're 18 you may not have the necessary maturity, the life experience or the judgment to do something so permanent like getting a tattoo,” Blagojevich said.

Local tattoo artist Darren Ashbaugh disagrees with the governor’s reasoning for keeping the age limit as is.  "Basically what he's saying is if the law is 18, everybody's going to run out and get tattooed, what's going to stop them at 21?"

Ashbaugh has been a tattoo artist for 14 years. He says he understands the Governor’s concern about the permanence of body art. After all, it’s similar to the advice he gives all of his clients.  "I’d say think about it for a long time, because it's going to be on there for a lot longer than you thought about it."

But Ashbaugh thinks 18 is old enough to make that decision, and says keeping the legal age at 21 only hurts Illinois tattoo studios.  "They're going to get it if they want it. They know they can get it in another state. This is the only state that's 21."

SIU student Howard Harper got his first tattoo in Indiana when he was 18. He says he gave plenty of thought to what he wanted. Harper says maturity, not age, should be the deciding factor in getting a tattoo.  "You can be 29 and not think things through, so it just depends what kind of mind set you're in,” Harper said.