When Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that tattoo parlors could reopen effective immediately, the response from enthusiasts was also immediate.

Ashton Graves, of Plano, said the drive to Vintage Rose Tattoo Co. in Whitehouse was totally worth it to be tattooed by artist Cora Weisenberger.

For Graves, getting a tattoo helps her de-stress and gets her through challenging times in life.

“It was hard not being able to have that stress relief,” Graves said. “I’ve got some catching up to do as much as I can.”

Graves said she’s received tattoos from Weisenberger for over two years and fell in love with her work as a tattoo artist. Weisenberger tattoos Graves’ right arm, while Weisenberger’s husband, Jaden, tattoos her left arm.

After more than a month with no indication on how their work would factor in with reopenings, tattoo establishments were among several businesses that were allowed to reopen immediately after Abbott’s announcement on Monday.

“It feels great. Today (Tuesday) would have been day 60 without tattooing,” Weisenberger said. “I’ve done a lot of art, but nothing’s the same as tattooing a person.”

Vintage Rose Tattoo has added several measures to ensure safety. Both artists and clients wear masks, people receive temperature checks before entering the shop and clients have to wash their hands, Weisenberger said.

Clients can only make bookings digitally at this time, and walk-ins are not allowed.

Weisenberger was surprised to hear tattoo shops could reopen immediately.

“We’re excited. We’ve got really good clients,” she said. “When you stop something, the more people want it.”

While being closed for weeks was financially difficult, Weisenberger said she was able to rely on some savings and didn’t lose very much money.

However, she feels tattoo artists were neglected as several businesses were allowed to reopen before tattoo establishments.

She said tattoo artists already have blood borne pathogen and sanitization training.

“It’s nice to finally get recognized, I feel like tattoo artists were forgotten,” she said. “We didn’t have any prep time.”

Though Weisenberger did say finding out she could return to work on the same day of the announcement was kind of a hassle.

Sam Fontenot, co-owner and tattoo artist at Moth + Moon Tattoo, said his shop won’t be reopening until Friday to make sure everything is cleaned and sanitized properly.

Fontenot and fellow tattoo artist and co-owner Micah Lewis brought in a third party to perform professional cleaning and sanitizing on the floors. They are also cleaning shop equipment and surfaces.

While being closed for two months, Fontenot said not tattooing has impacted him and Lewis mentally.

“It takes a toll to not be able to do what you love,” he said.

Clients were excited to hear about the re-opening and Moth + Moon Tattoo’s appointments filled up like crazy, Fontenot said.

Tattoo stations will be limited to one artist and one client. Masks are recommended for clients but not required. Clients can be provided with a mask if they would like one, he said.

Fontenot added that tattoo artists are trained in cross contamination cleaning, and employees will be doing their best to wipe down surfaces and take extra steps to clean after each client.

Fontenot said they were getting close to having to reopen their doors out of financial need if Abbott had not announced the reopening Monday.

“It’s good to not have to do that,” he said. “It’s good that the state is not forcing tattooers to feel like outlaws.”

He said it was disappointing that tattoo shops were not included in earlier re-openings like the salon industry.

“I believe tattooing is misrepresented to our government,” he said.

He is working together with other tattoo artists to let government officials learn more about the tattoo industry and its safety guidelines.


Multimedia Journalist

I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.