VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE: www.tattoolife.com/world-tattoo-industry-trade-show-and-cts-an-interview-with-mario-barth/
What is the World Tattoo Industry Trade Show and what is the Coalition for Tattoo Safety?
The CTS was formed to create a professional organization and platform that brings together the entirety of manufacturers of inks, tattoo machines, tattoo needles, tattoo supply companies, vendors of tattoo-related merchandise, artists and enthusiasts alike. It encompasses all those that benefit from the tattoo industry. It was formed in 2011, and has been working behind-the-scenes for the last seven years. As the tattoo industry has become one of the fastest growing businesses shifting to mainstream society, the need for a professional organization is essential. The Coalition’s mission is to unify the tattoo industry in its entirety for the first time in history and to create lasting and proper guidelines – not only nationwide but also internationally. One of the biggest aspects and strengths in this challenge is the Coalition’s consistency and unique approach to reach a wide range of industry persons and leaders. The CTS provides its membership with an annual tradeshow giving access to classes that include tattoo history, prevention of disease transmission and lectures on all aspects of tattooing by pioneer artists and artists on the cutting edge of tattooing. It has shown too many times when our industry is trying to be properly regulated by outside influencers and agencies, this trade and artistry has always been either over regulated and/or completely unregulated. We, as the Coalition for Tattoo Safety, vowed to create standards created by the industry which makes sense and not only stabilize the tattooing industry for the future but specially to create a greater public health and safety environment. The CTS’ emphasis is to recognize the strength in numbers. The Coalition is handled by a Board of Directors. Further, there are several unique committees that have been specially geared toward the specific categories in our industry. There is a committee board for aftercare, manufacturing, retail, tattoo artists and soon to be body piercing. Each committee board consists of 10 members to discuss the individual needs for their specific industry areas. It is of utmost importance that those specific areas are discussed by the industry leaders and advisors in their specific field as they know for which the most important issue is arising in their field. The CTS is dedicated to education, professionalism, and unity of the tattoo industry. With the popularity of tattooing comes scrutiny by government oversight. Funds generated by the CTS will be dedicated to the cost of lobbyists and cost to ensure the tattoo industry can work in cooperation with the FDA and or any agencies that may have influence on the tattoo industry. The CTS will play the important role in the future for the tattoo industry and be an entity that will be a united front as a professional organization dedicated to higher education of procedure, universal precautions, artistic techniques and product safety. The CTS invites all those in the tattoo industry to its membership and have a voice in the future direction of tattooing.
What is the purpose, views and mission?
The purpose, view, and mission are simple: to keep the tattoo industry in our hands instead of the hands of the government’s. It is to speak as one voice and be recognized by the powers-to-be that may have influence on how the industry conducts business. This can be achieved by finally creating a united community which has never been seen in our industry. It has the purpose of learning how to jump over our own shadows and finally becoming the so needed industry trade organization which can speak in one voice. This can only be achieved by looking not for someone’s own personal business advantage but instead for the group, which in this case is the tattoo industry itself. Education is a priority to elevate and aspire to the highest-level giving credibility to our cause. The most important view and mission is to unite all existing tattoo (and possible piercing) organizations under one umbrella and roof to discuss and learn from each other to create long-lasting and continuous improvement for a safe environment. Our worldwide theme: #tattoounity
Who are the masterminds behind it, tell us about the team?
The original concept was the brainchild of Mario Barth in 2011. Mario reached out to other industry leaders with his ideas and concerns. After many meetings and much discussion, ideas became reality. The Board consists of Mario Barth, Mario Rosenau, Terry Welker, Tommy Ringwalt. Brian Everett has signed on as Director of Public Relations. They saw a vision of something much bigger than themselves. The committees are still in the making, and we are reaching out to those who would contribute to the involvement of these important positions. The structure of the CTS is to recognize the members’ input and to set the direction of all aspects of the industry.
How did the idea come up and how long it took to make it?
The time had come for the tattoo industry to take an active role in its destiny. There have been countless meetings in Europe and throughout the world by the starting members and supporters. We believe it is still in the making and it just touched the roots of unbelievable possibilities which can and will arise with this group of people. We believe in education, sharing and caring about our industry ranging from the manufacturer to the artist and enthusiast. It took seven years for the board members to build the foundation just for this one event. It will be an ongoing learning experience not only for our industry but also for us as Board/Committee members.
We had the opportunity to create this event in Las Vegas as there was a previous event planned at that specific location. The group decided that it would be advantageous to create the first industry trade show of its kind instead of creating another tattoo convention. Las Vegas provides a great opportunity for people from around the world to spend time in an exciting, unique environment, and it presents a large amount of possible outside activities besides the trade show. Las Vegas is known to be convention and trade show capital of the world which is easy to reach for a great price and has never-ending offers for travelers. The venue was amazing and there is no better place to be on Halloween.
What makes this convention different than others?
We believe the biggest difference is that it is NOT a convention as previously known in our industry instead this tradeshow has been the base for workshop learning programs, community building and showcasing cutting edge products, which all have been the overall feel of this incredible trade show. It is the foundation of the CTS. It will bring us together to elevate our skills, to develop strategies, and to work with regulation entities. The trade show has presented a great opportunity for all manufacturers to showcase their newest products for 2019. In this unprecedented environment, it was not important to sell an individual item; instead, it was geared toward education and communication. Dealers and tattoo artists flew in from around the world to have face-to-face meetings with some of the biggest brand creators and manufacturers. They could gather information firsthand about each individual brand and create a conscious decision which product they would like to implement in their business. Many of the vendors held product educational workshops to teach how to get the best use and results out of their products. Further the exhibiting vendors worked and showcased with each other all under one roof as a united industry. There have been many open meetings, informational workshops and discussions about upcoming regulations and laws. For the first time in history, there were up to 27 independent manufacturers in one room to discuss – unitedly – upcoming challenges and the future of our industry. Major ink manufacturers sat together and started to work as a team to create future guidelines and safety standards within this part of our industry. Nobody in the world has seen anything remotely similar to this. Every person involved added strong values and opinions in their field. The energy created at this tradeshow was full of friendship, willingness to learn and especially to unite and protect this so treasured industry. This trade show further created a classroom style environment for over 200 artists, who unitedly learned and trained with over 30 of the best artists and business associates from around the world. They received their Certification of Participation for all of their attended classes representing a new era of community for education and united learning in our industry. For the last days at the trade show, the tattoo showroom floor was open to the public, and the artists were able to showcase their best work and implement old and new knowledge by working next to their peers with live tattooing. One of the greatest assets is to be able to sit together with outside agencies and regulatory leaders to discuss the future and challenges in person (face-to-face) to avoid being subject to over regulations.
Why this has to work?
If we, as an industry, do not come together to address issues that can affect our business, we become subject to over regulation (because there is no other option). The inks we use could no longer have the longevity or brightness. 0ur business has a long history of being frowned on as a “black eye business.” We are often zoned to neighborhoods riddled with adult bookstores and peep shows to practice our art. Way too often tattoos are perceived a regret by the ignorant. Regulatory agencies have put more emphases on the ability to remove a tattoo with a laser than how to create a colorful tattoo. The prejudice that has haunted our livelihood for years still exist. Terminology used by regulators also has the ability to impede on our ability to practice our craft. Our tools are also subject to scrutiny by regulators as they do not have the accurate information needed to make a conscious decision. The tattoo industry has grown dramatically and faster than most other industries in the world. Hundreds upon millions of people around the world receive tattoos and hundreds of thousand tattoo artists are creating a world of income stability and sustainable future for the families. There are too many variables in today’s age of tattooing that have been multiplied by more people applying and receiving tattoos. It is time to unite, standardize, regulate and create the safest environment possible for them but also for the public at large and future artists and clients. This opportunity only comes once to an industry, when people involved can help shape their future. If you look at other industries, this is an exciting time which can be scary if you aren’t involved in it.
Why everyone in the industry should look into this and support?
The industry should look into supporting this coalition for this simple reason: to be informed is to be empowered. We have the opportunity to have a professional organization represent it and work diligently to reserve our right to continue the art we love. It is for the industry itself and the greater good for the future of this lifestyle. It is really that simple of a reason. This industry has always been a rebellious one. It never wanted to comply with regulators, never wanted to be a regular work environment, never wanted to conform to an outside environment. Time made it possible for our industry to grow, learn and become the lifestyle for millions of people. To keep these rebellious DNA foundations alive, our industry has to guide itself and regulatory agencies to help create unified standards. It is time to take a united stand as an industry and work in conjunction with a strong voice to help everybody involved to understand more clearly what is so important; not only to the artist, but also to the receiver – the tattoo client. Everyone has the opportunity to help shape and have a positive impact on their trade or even as a client.
How do you become a member?
Everybody can become a member by visiting Coalitionfortattoosafety.org
There are many different levels of memberships and opportunities to support – all of which are equally as important to the Coalition. Get involved and become part of tattooing’s first professional industry organization: THE COALITION FOR TATTOO SAFETY.