How Ben Shaw, A Tattoo Artist and an Advocate for Safe Tattooing, is Transforming the Industry

A recent study revealed that between 2016 and 2021, tattoos and body art progressively recorded considerable growth and popularity. Equally, with each sequential generation, tattoos have become more widely acknowledged. By the time of the study, about 46.0% of Americans had at least one tattoo. Also, five years to 2021, the popularity of tattoos among millennials, nearly half of whom have been inked at least once, drove a rapid expansion of the tattoo artists’ industry, advancing its escalation from countercultural niche to big business.

Ben Shaw is a tattoo artist, regulation specialist, inspirational speaker, lobbyist, and industry advocate for safe tattooing and appropriate regulation. Ben has been passionate about tattooing since childhood. He got his first tattoo at 16 and currently has numerous tattoos on 70 percent of his body.

Ben has a strong entrepreneurial conviction. He co-founded his studio, ‘Archetype Tattoo,’ in 2010 and started tattooing when he was 20. The talented tattooist co-founded the New Mexico Guild of Ethical Tattooists and served as a host at Art Fusion, where he spread the word about ethical tattooing practices.

Ben is passionate about proper regulation and is so vocal about it. “So many within the tattoo industry have zero desire to learn or participate in regulations and law-making, which allows outside entities and regulators to take advantage and misregulate body art,” he shared.

The veteran tattooist is a community builder who gets tattoo artists and supportive communities to rally together for common goals like SB 275, where he championed a bill through the 2015 legislative sessions in NM. As an inspirational speaker, Ben promotes the profits of tattooing on the human species and how they can heal from getting tattoo wounds.

Ben is highly applauded for his advocacy. He achieved a major career milestone in 2015 when he spearheaded the state-approved Board of Body Art Practitioners through Senate Bill 275. Incredibly, Ben sat on the New Mexico Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists as the only tattoo artist and recognized the immense need for proper regulations specific to the tattoo industry. This led to the founding of the Board of Body Art Practitioners. The board controls tattoo artists’ licensing and manages expectations of cleanliness and professionalism within the tattoo industry. 

Ben is so grateful that the Guild of ethical tattooists he co-founded, which started as a meek cooperative venture has expanded to have a lasting effect in his community. He ran a union of artists and advocated for the much-needed regulations of ethical tattooing practices. Ben was also the host for art fusion for a cause founded by his studio, Archetype Tattoo. This art event brought local artists together to raise thousands of dollars for nonprofit organizations. As icing on the Cake, Ben and his studio – Archetype Tattoo, bagged the best tattoo artist and shop trophies in New Mexico in 2019, 2020, and 2021, respectively.

Ben is now active with the Tattoo Smart platform, Launchpad, and slowly becoming a tattoo industry advocate, helping artists across the globe navigate tattoo regulations and be a voice to stop over-regulation and inspire safe tattooing. 

In response to his plans, Ben disclosed that he aspires to see himself and his brand on the TEDx stage, speaking at prestigious tattoo conferences and becoming a regulation consultant for the tattoo industry and governmental regulatory bodies. He also has ambitions to lobby bills to promote the tattoo industry. 

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