Tattoo Ole, the oldest commercially active tattoo studio in the world, is largely hidden in two small basements.
Having recently survived the threat of closure following a 2016 eviction notice from the landlord, Tattoo Ole now faces a new challenge. New European Union rules introduced in early January ban thousands of chemicals in tattoo ink.
What does the EU ink ban mean for Tattoo Ole?
27 countries say public health would be much better with tighter restrictions on elements in ink that can cause cancer or allergies.
The commission says alternatives to the banned products exist, but tattoo parlors say they are too slow in getting them to their shops from manufacturers.
Weeks after the new ban, Majbritt Petersen is still working with plain black ink.
“All the colors have changed, so we have a new black, we get a new white, there will be new colors, but you don’t know how they stay in the skin in the long run,” she says.
“We made the change, so right now we only have black colors.”
An avoidable crisis for the tattoo industry
Like many in the industry, Petersen says the new ban is insufficiently supported by science, something the EU disputes.
A “Save the Pigments” petition collected more than 176,000 signatures in the EU.
It is already creating confusion and uncertainty among potential customers, salon owner says.
“When customers are scared and think, ‘Okay, I don’t want to test a new color, I really want the old color.'” It’s a new color on the market and you want a permanent tattoo forever,” she says.
“It’s a lot of changes in a small amount of time,” she adds.
Tattoo shops in the 27-county bloc have struggled for two years since COVID-19 struck, with restrictions and closures.
Now they say a perfectly avoidable crisis will hit them even harder.
Petersen still signs clients at Tattoo Ole, but for now the colorful history has lost a bit of its vibrancy.