How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Tattoo In Michigan?

The Shop does not tattoo minors. Not even with parental consent. Sorry.

Teens want to know, “How old do you have to be to get a tattoo in Michigan?” The fact is, there is no minimum age to get a tattoo in Michigan, pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.13102.

Of course, in order for a minor to be tattooed legally in Michigan, a parent or legal guardian has to sign written, informed consent at the actual tattoo shop. Generally, they’ll need to bring in the minor’s birth certificate to the tattoo shop and a copy of their own ID. All that would likely get scanned into or stapled to the waiver/consent form.

So, that’s the Michigan law part of this. As a tattoo shop, things get murky though.

Murky Tattooing Minors Situation #1

16-year-old Abbi’s mom is on the birth certificate, but Abbi’s mom lost parental rights a few years back. Abbi and her mom bring in their needed forms of identification and sign the waiver. Then, we tattoo Abbi. She’s gets a super sweet infinity sign with “Abbi and Matt” written in it. We add “May 13, 2018” to the tattoo. Why? Because that’s the day Abbi and Matt started dating last month. Later that evening, Abbi’s dad storms into the shop. “You’ve desecrated my baby girl’s skin,” Abbi’s dad yells.

tattooing minors minimum age MichiganThis is none of our business. We’re not responsible for what Abbi’s mom wrote. We’re not responsible for Abbi’s bad decision. We’re not responsible for Abbi’s dad’s feelings that his daughter’s skin is permanently disfigured. We’re not responsible for the blow-up fight that arises from the fraud committed against us by Abbi and Abbi’s mom. Right?

Legally, no. None of that is our fault. Yet, Abbi’s dad will still show up in our lobby. We’ll still feel like shit. And our clients in the shop at the time will still feel incredibly uncomfortable. Plus, in a couple of months, Abbi herself might very well blame us for allowing her to get a tattoo with the name of someone she’d only been dating a month.

Legal responsibility aside, that’s how that shit works in real life.

No thank you. We don’t tattoo minors.

Murky Tattooing Minors Situation #2

Zander Schmander is 17 years old. His birth certificate says his dad’s name is Noel Schmander.  Noel Schmander and Zander Schmander come into the shop. Noel is getting a scantily clad pinup on his forearm. Noel signs the consent form.

Turns out Noel is a family name and the Noel Schmander that signed the consent form was actually Zander’s older cousin.

Not our fault right? When Zander’s dad comes into the shop complaining that Zander’s teachers are all pissed off about the pin-up tattoo, we get to just explain that Cousin Noel committed fraud against us, right?

Legally, yes. But again, that’s not how shit works in real life. Now, all those teachers at the high school that are our loyal clients wonder what could compel us to tattoo a high school junior with a tattoo that wouldn’t even be school appropriate. Plus, Father Noel is mad at us and will make sure everyone in town knows that we’re idiots, even though we’re not. Heck, even Zander’s girlfriend hates us now, because she’s only 16 and her amygdala isn’t fully developed and now she thinks she has to compare herself to the drawing on her boyfriend’s arm.

We don’t need that hassle. Plus, the science of brain development, which we discussed in an earlier blog post is pretty clear that we can keep ourselves out of a lot of bad decisions on the part of others if we just don’t tattoo minors.

Murky Tattooing Minors Situation #3

Tattooing Minors in Michigan.JPGBree wants two stars tattooed just above her pelvis. She’s 15 years old. A tattoo in that location is generally a means to express one’s sexuality. Of course, anyone who’s entered puberty will have feelings about their own sexuality. We’re certainly not shaming them for their feelings. But it certainly doesn’t feel right, as adults, to participate in any way, however minor, in the sexual expression of a minor.

To be super clear, when we tattoo pelvis stars on anyone, we aren’t even thinking about the location. We aren’t considering if it’s a sexy-zone, even on adult women or men. As professional tattoo artists, all we see is a canvas. We zoom in on the 2 inch by 2 inch area we’re going to place those stars, and we place the stars.

But as adults, knowing beforehand that a pelvis tattoo is often an expression of one’s sexuality, it just doesn’t feel appropriate to participate in placing those stars (or cherries) (or blossoms) (or text, etc.) on a minor.

Call us old fashioned. Hell, call us old. Whatever. The answer is resoundingly no. No, Bree, we won’t tattoo stars on your pelvis. But, thankfully, we don’t even have to say that uncomfortable sentence that will ultimately lead Bree to feeling ashamed or embarrassed about her own natural inclinations towards expression. We can simply say, “No, Bree. We don’t tattoo minors.”

We Don’t Tattoo Minors

So, we don’t tattoo minors. Yes, we know that in Michigan you can get tattooed with a parent’s consent at any age. But the law doesn’t require us to tattoo minors with a parent’s consent. So, we choose not to.

Plus, we specifically told our insurance company that we don’t tattoo minors. There have been only a few exceptions to this policy. And those exceptions required us to contact the insurance company and purchase a temporary add-on to our policy, with an explanation. That’s a huge hassle.

Now, when a terminally ill young man that we knew wanted to check “get a tattoo” off of his bucket list, we went through that hassle for him. But barring any extremely extenuating circumstances, we’re not going to do that for you.

There are other ethical reasons why we choose to only tattoo adults, even though Michigan state law permits us to tattoo minors of virtually any age. To read our philosophy on tattooing minors, check out this previous blog post.

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