Joey Tattoo Wants To Change The Way You Think About Ink

July 18, 2013
The new show Tattoo Rescue will see longtime tattoo artist and shop owner Joey Tattoo give failing tattoo shops a wake-up call, but it's a different type of rescue than we're used to here at Spike. The stakes are high for the owners of these shops, but it's not just their business that's being rescued. It also means a rescue for the customers themselves.

"We're gonna expose the stuff that you should look for," he told, "and in turn help a lot of people."

He wants to do that by showing the kinds of shop owners that act as the Goofus to his tattooed Gallant. While other Rescue shows focus on bad business and customer service, though, it's the health component that's most important to Joey Tattoo. That's because a dirty tattoo parlor doesn't just show a lack of pride and work ethic; it also poses a serious health hazard. Without the proper care, cleaning, and maintenance, tattoos could at best take longer to heal and at worst potentially lead to serious health complications, including staph infection.

It's one of the things Joey stresses both on the show and with his own business, Bella Arte Tattoo in Fairfield, New Jersey.

"To me, it's something you shouldn't be lazy about," he said. "My shop is cleaned every single night and in-between tattoos we clean and mop."

Something that takes so little effort from a shop owner can make a world of difference to a potential customer. The bacteria that causes staph is on our skin at all times, which makes it all the more important for places like tattoo parlors to put the extra work in.

Joey Tattoo hopes through the show he can wake people up to the fact that whether they're an owner, artist or customer, the work being done is important, and not just because it's permanent.

"We do micro-surgery every time we tattoo," he said. "So in reality we do more than doctors' offices do."As far as knowing what to look out for, it doesn't take rocket science or a full inspection to see the warning signs of a dirty, unsafe environment. In fact, it's as simple as exercising one of the most basic human functions: going to the bathroom.

"Look under the toilet. If you go in that bathroom and it's not clean, walk out."Joey has been in the business as an artist for twenty-four years, and owned his own shop for nineteen. As someone with a lot of experience in the industry, he's in a good position to help people make responsible decisions to make sure they're not just happy with their tattoo, but with their surroundings.

In addition to bringing attention to the shortcomings of some tattoo parlors, Joey also wants to help push body art into the mainstream acceptance. Tattoos used to have the stigma of belonging to criminals, inmates, and sailors, but over the last two decades they've exploded in popularity and become a staple of American culture.

As someone who's literally covered in tattoos and is passionate about the form, he's eager to see it continue.

"Twenty years ago, they'd look at me like I was a freak," he told "They'd ask, 'what were you in for'?"

Now that tattoos are more popular than ever, the timing is perfect for a show like "Tattoo Rescue." Joey hopes that the show doesn't just entertain, but also educates and creates better shops, better artists, and better consumers. So for him, it's not about doing a television show or making money.

"I never wanted the fame," he told us, then quickly corrected himself. "I don't mind the fame, don't get me wrong. I just love this industry."

To see that love for the industry in action, be sure to follow JoeyTattoo on Instagram and @Joey_Tattoo on twitter.

Tattoo Rescue premieres this Sunday at 10/9c on Spike. You can see a sneak peek in the video below.