The law legalizing tattooing in Oklahoma goes into effect Wednesday and the state Department of Health has been busy fielding questions from people who want to get licenses to practice the ancient art.
Oklahoma is the last state to legalize tattooing.
Tressa Madden, director of consumer protection at the state Department of Health, said her office has been swamped with inquiries about the licensing process.
"Build the rules, and they will come," said Madden, whose department is in charge of licensing tattoo artists and tattoo establishments.
"I try to return phone calls as fast as I can. We're just being busy, and we're working as hard as we can."
The health department hired an additional public-health specialist, and now has four people to help regulate the tattooing.
Requirements for a license include professional experience in tattooing or completion of an approved apprentice program. There is also a standardized test and requirements for certificates in CPR, first-aid and in dealing with bloodborne pathogens.
A surety bond of $100,000 is also required, along with an initial licensing fee of $1,000 and a $500 charge for annual renewal.
"The laws make it a little more difficult for the average Joe to pick up a tattoo machine and say he knows what he's doing," said Brandon Mull, a member of Oklahoma Tattooing and Piercing Association and the Oklahoma Body Art Coalition, both of which fought to change the state's tattoo laws.
"It's just going to make it all around safer for the public."
Mull started in 1997 asking the state Legislature to legalize the work he's done for 12 years.
He was arrested in 2003 for tattooing. He said he was filling out the paperwork for licensing and hopes to be approved by Wednesday.