US Reporter


Ben Shaw and the Tattoo Industry: A Fight for Legacy

Recently, the US federal government signed the Modernization of Cosmetic Regulation Act (MOCRA) into law; this is expected to impact the tattoo industry significantly. This regulation act is a reminder that without proper communication and cooperation, the government can make drastic changes to the sector without input from those it affects.

Ben Shaw, a professional tattoo artist of 23 years and business owner of Archetype Tattoo, is a leading advocate for the tattoo industry. As the past chairman of the board of Body Art practitioners in New Mexico, co-founder of the Guild of Ethical Tattooists, a founding member of the Launchpad, and the state representative for the Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT), Ben has dedicated his career to promoting safe and ethical tattoo practices.

Ben believes the tattoo industry should take responsibility for self-regulation and speak up with a unified voice for the industry’s interests. He is a community builder, willing to go beyond the traditional tattoo industry’s mindset of gatekeeping and isolation. The tattoo and body art scene is built upon a community of artists and art appreciators who respect the timeless craft of tattooing; for so long as the art exists, there will be people who will continue to be a part of it. Ben recognizes that the industry has grown so large that it affects too many lives to be hidden from governmental attention. He wants to guide the industry’s regulation instead of being restricted by it.

Throughout his career, Ben has accomplished many notable feats. He is no newbie in the industry and has effectively managed his shop for 13 years. In the last four years, his studio and artists have been labeled the best in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He co-founded the Guild of Ethical Tattooists, an education organization built to safeguard the public against unprofessional tattooing. He lobbied for Senate bill SB275, which effectively created the board of Body Art practitioners, and served as its chairman until 2019. He is also a public speaker, consultant, and author.

Despite all challenges, Ben has kept his head above water through dedication, hard work, and perseverance. He has faced disconnection, fear, hatred, and confusion within the industry. Still, Ben is determined to unite the community and represent its collective interests to the Food and Drug Administration and the federal government. He maximizes opportunities to speak at tattoo conferences about the inherent opportunities in working together and encourages avenues that promote growth in the industry. He wants the tattoo industry, regulators, and supply manufacturers to know that he represents a unified tattoo industry and will fight for their rights.

Ben’s biggest goal is to raise awareness among tattoo artists in the US about the recent MOCRA bill, and how it will affect the tattoo industry moving forward. He hopes to unify the voices of tattoo artists under the Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT) and build a database of regulations across the country. To learn more about Ben and his efforts, you can reach him on his social media accounts: YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

How Ben Shaw, a tattoo artist/regulation specialist, is changing the industry

The tattoo industry continues to grow remarkably as more people embrace body art. While this is a great move and one that has opened the industry to more customers, it has also exposed the many gaps in the space. There are many regulatory loopholes in the tattoo industry, from ink production to the training of tattoo artists, which puts the public at risk. This is one of the many gaps Ben Shaw, a well-known tattoo artist and advocate based in New Mexico, has been working to bridge.

Ben Shaw is a public speaker, trained tattoo artist, and regulatory specialist who has been in the industry for years. Ben is utilizing his public speaking skills to transform the tattoo industry as he pushes for safe tattooing and appropriate regulation.

According to Ben, his goal is to create a better tattoo industry where there are zero regulatory loopholes. Tattoos are significant, and they carry different messages and meanings. Unfortunately, as the demand for tattoos increases, not all joining the industry fully know the basics and how to correctly draw a tattoo without causing harm.

Ben is building an online community of tattoo lovers and artists using his online platform, like YouTube, to discuss safety and hygiene standards, including the dangers of contaminated ink and poor sanitation practices. In addition, he shares the benefits of tattooing and how you can properly care for tattoos to ensure smooth healing. Ben also uses his online platform to champion better laws and regulations as he involves others in the industry in decision-making.

Ben Shaw has spearheaded improved regulation for a bodyguard in New Mexico. Ben sat on the New Mexico Board Of Barbers and cosmetologists as the only tattoo artist where he got to talk more about proper measures taken to help tattoo artists and their clients. He pointed out the need for proper regulations specific to the tattoo industry. As a result, the Board Of Body Art Practitioners was founded. The board monitors the licensure of tattoo artists, guiding expectations of cleanliness and professionalism within the Tattoo industry. Ben retired as chairman of the Board Of Body Art Practitioners in 2019. However, he is still a board member and currently sits on the board’s rule committee. 

Ben was also the host of Art Fusion For a Cause, founded by his studio, Archetype Tattoo. The event brought together local artists raising thousands of dollars for non-profit organizations. During these events, Ben Shaw and other tattoo artists shared their experiences and what they feel can be done differently to improve the industry.

According to Ben, while closing all the loopholes might take some time, the steps taken so far are great. More tattoo artists now understand the laws and regulations, making it easier to practice safe tattooing. Unarguably, this is a great improvement from what the industry used to be, where most tattoo artists saw each other as competitors rather than a community. As the industry evolves, Ben hopes to help more artists from around the country and world navigate tattoo regulations and be a voice to stop over-regulation and inspire safe tattooing.