A LONG-TIME tattoo artist has warned young people - some school aged - of the health risks and social repercussions of getting inked in someone's backyard.
Brad Lon, a tattoo artist for more than 20 years, gave a talk at the Albion Park Community Centre last Tuesday afternoon, about the dangers of backyard tattooing and hepatitis C.
The workshop, organised by Healthy Cities Illawarra, Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra and Albion Park Youth and Community Care, was put together to raise awareness of hepatitis C.
Mr Lon, 45, discussed how he had friends who had contracted hepatitis C through backyard tattooing.
"It seems to be a lot worse - a lot more people are doing it now," he said.
"I did the same when I was young, got some cheap ones.
"I thought they were cool, but by the time I was 20 I had them burnt off."
Mr Lon also warned of the "really crappy" quality of backyard tattoos.
He said he had many customers with poorly designed and drawn home-made tattoos, which were difficult to fix.
"There are a lot of kids, some really young, getting them on their hands and necks [which] doesn't help you in life," he said.
"There's a lot of stigma with hep C, like that you must be a junkie."
One person who attended was Shell Cove's Alisha Saint.
The 17-year-old admitted to knowing little about hepatitis C.
She said she had seen a few people at school with "pretty bad" backyard tattoos.
Nadia Sneyd-Miller, health promotion officer at Healthy Cities Illawarra, believed backyard tattooing was a "real issue".
"I do a lot of youth education sessions where we discuss it and usually a few kids come up and say they have had tattoos done by a friend," she said.