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Georgia Tattoo Artist Is Weighing Risks Of Going Back To Work

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Georgia's governor is ready for his state to get back to work. In a very controversial move, he announced earlier this week that he will allow some businesses to open as early as tomorrow - businesses including gyms, hair salons and tattoo parlors. Shaun Beaudry is a tattoo artist at Anonymous Tattoos in Savannah, Ga. Welcome.

SHAUN BEAUDRY: Oh, thank you. Welcome.

KELLY: So tell me how you're thinking about this. Are y'all going to reopen? Will you go back to work?

BEAUDRY: I think right now we're all - decided to pretty much wait. We're not going to rush into it. I think we may kind of discuss opening maybe a couple weeks down the road, as the situation improves, hopefully.

KELLY: Yeah, because I'm thinking about social distancing and thinking it would be pretty tough to give somebody a tattoo from 6 feet away.

BEAUDRY: Oh, yes, definitely.

KELLY: Yeah. So what kind of changes are you watching for? And what kind of changes are you thinking might make you feel safer and your clients feel safer? Masks, I guess, for starters.

BEAUDRY: Oh, yes, definitely masks. More PPE. Also, where we tattoo somebody. If I were to tattoo somebody's neck, obviously my face and their face are very close together.

KELLY: Good point.

BEAUDRY: But maybe tattooing somebody on the ankle or the placement is a big thing.

KELLY: Yeah. Have you heard from any customers? Do you know whether they're going to be clamoring to come back?

BEAUDRY: Oh, yeah. I've gotten (laughter) - I've been turning people down at the moment. Yeah, there's a - I've been getting many, many messages.

KELLY: Oh, really? And what - like, what are they saying?

BEAUDRY: They want to get tattooed. People have even asked me to come to their house to tattoo them.

KELLY: Really?

BEAUDRY: (Laughter) Yes.

KELLY: Wow.

BEAUDRY: Yeah, it's pretty crazy.

KELLY: Yeah. I mean, if I may ask how you're doing - I'm thinking that a tattoo parlor, unlike a restaurant, you can't get takeout. There's no way to - there's no takeout tattoos. If you're shut, you're shut.

BEAUDRY: Yeah.

KELLY: Have you been able to piece together other work?

BEAUDRY: Yeah. A lot of tattooers are kind of doing paintings and commissions. That kind of helps, but it doesn't really fully supplement the income. Some people are actually doing raffles as well. So they're kind of selling off tickets, and then the winner gets, like, a whole day session when they open back again. That gives them a little additional income.

KELLY: Has Anonymous Tattoos been able to get hold of any of this money that's been designated for small businesses?

BEAUDRY: I don't think so.

KELLY: Yeah.

BEAUDRY: I think we've applied. But I don't even know any of my co-workers or anyone in the immediate area that's gotten unemployment.

KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. I'm so sorry. That's really tough. I mean, what is the conversation as you talk to your fellow employees and just try to figure out how you might make this work?

BEAUDRY: No. 1 is safety for ourselves, our family and our clients. I think none of us want to just preemptively jump in and start tattooing when we feel it still might be a little risky. It's tricky. It's really hard on us at the moment.

KELLY: Yeah. I know y'all closed right around St. Patrick's Day, when so many of us were starting to go into this - into quarantines and staying home. And I'm told that one of the last tattoos you did had a coronavirus theme.

BEAUDRY: Yeah. Actually, it was my boss, Ricky, my - Ricky McGee. He did a coronavirus with a clover around it on St. Patrick's Day.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: Sorry, I don't mean to laugh.

BEAUDRY: It's OK.

KELLY: Just - this was, like, the coronavirus with the little spikes coming out of it and all that?

BEAUDRY: Yes, exactly.

KELLY: Yeah.

BEAUDRY: Yeah, exactly. But it was framed with a clover.

KELLY: Do you know how he's feeling about that decision? Has he come to regret it yet? (Laughter).

BEAUDRY: That's the thing about tattoos - people regret them all time. And I'm sure he will at one point.

KELLY: (Laughter) That is Shaun Beaudry. He's a tattoo artist at Anonymous Tattoos in Savannah, Ga. Shaun Beaudry, thank you so much. We'll be thinking of you. Best of luck.

BEAUDRY: OK. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.