Tattoo artists back festival after infection claim

Two of Taranaki's top tattoo artists have come out in support of the national festival held in New Plymouth.

Gene Martin, of Mean Team Tattoo and Paul Gledhill of Ink and Anchor Tattoo Artspace have both backed the festival after allegations of poor hygiene.

Whanganui man Karl Taylor, 30, was diagnosed with cellulitis of the leg after a snake tattoo he got at New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival on Saturday became infected.

He was discharged from the Whanganui emergency department on Sunday night and told the Taranaki Daily News he blamed his infection on poor hygiene standards of an overseas tattooist at the festival.

However, both Mr Martin and Mr Gledhill have dismissed those claims, saying hygiene at the festival has always been of the highest standard and the infection was an unfortunate incident.

"I think he's just been very, very unlucky," Mr Martin said.

"I wouldn't blame anyone in particular, not Karl or the tattooist. These things are rare and unfortunate and cellulitis can be contracted any time there's broken skin," he said.

Yesterday Mr Taylor said the swelling on his leg was beginning to go down but he was now on crutches and his third course of antibiotics.

It was going to cost more than $300 to get the tattoo covered up, he said. "I don't feel I should have to pay for it."

But Mr Martin, who has been tattooing for 24 years, has offered to fix Mr Taylor's tattoo for free when it has healed.

"I don't know Karl but I just want him to have a good outcome. This is the best convention in the southern hemisphere, I think," he said.

Mr Gledhill, who has been in the industry for almost six years, agreed and said the incident should not taint the success of the event.

"It's a shame it happened, but there's a lot of things that can cause that."

Mr Gledhill, who worked at the festival at the weekend, said tattoo artists' careers rested on their hygiene standards, and no artist would take a risk with equipment.

Taranaki Daily News