Rose Rotunda drunkenly tattooed a plus sign on her finger one night to remind herself to stay positive.
Rotunda, a junior studying studio art, does not regret the stick and poke tattoo, but only wishes she did it better.
Despite some house parties taking tattooing into their own hands, both Thunder Bunny Tattoos, 26 W. Stimson Ave., and Decorative Injections, 44 N. Court St., have strict policies against tattooing intoxicated people.
“I personally think it is ethically and morally wrong to tattoo someone that’s drunk,” Aaron Creamer, a tattoo artist at Decorative Injections, said.
It is illegal to give people tattoos if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Even under the influence of alcohol or drugs, some people can be good actors, Creamer said. But after being a tattoo artist for 11 years, Creamer has a knack for knowing when people are drunk.
“I’ve gotten pretty familiar with telling when people are drunk,” Creamer said.
Alex Andrews, the owner of Thunder Bunny Tattoos, uses the paperwork clients fill out as a “first line of defense.”
“We don’t have a breathalyzer in the shop, so sometimes it’s hard to tell,” Andrews said. “We do our best guess.”
The paperwork clients fill out at Thunder Bunny Tattoos includes a sworn testimony that they are not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. If the client signs the paper but is drunk, Andrews reserves the right to “throw someone out.”
Along with the paperwork, Andrews has a sign on his door that says the tattoo parlor has zero tolerance of tattooing intoxicated people. One reason is because if the tattoo looks messed up, the blame will be on the tattoo artist, Andrews said. Tattoos can easily be ruined if the person moves.
“You can’t tattoo a moving target,” Andrews said. “It just spells disaster.”
Instead of kicking them out of the store, Creamer has told people every artist is booked up for the day and to come back tomorrow if they are serious about getting a tattoo.
“It’s rare that drunk people come in wanting a tattoo,” Creamer said. "It happens mostly on big college weekends."
Thunder Bunny Tattoos workers experience drunken people wanting tattoos almost once a week, despite being farther from the uptown bar scene.
Andrews also tries to reason with people about the disadvantages of a tattoo while intoxicated. He believes being intoxicated while getting a tattoo can affect the art of it.
“These are decisions that need to be made with a sound mind,” Andrews said.
With all five of her stick and poke tattoos, Rotunda has found significance in them despite not having a “real” reason to get them at first.
“I love the spontaneous element that comes with getting stick n pokes,” Rotunda said in an email. “We get this fear that in a few years we'll hate the design ... but thinking about tattoos as physical reminders of milestones or memories in my life diminishes that fear.”