Maui News

Honolulu Tattoo Expo Fined $120K For Unlicensed Artists

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The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) Food Safety Branch issued a $120,000 administrative penalty to Erin N. Carillo and Thomas H. Hernandez, the promoters of the Honolulu Tattoo Expo for aiding and abetting 12 unlicensed tattoo artists to practice at a public event at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center on Jan. 24 and 25.

According to department officials, the promoters aided and abetted the violation of section 321-374, HRS, which requires any person that practices the art of tattooing to have a valid Hawai‘i State tattoo license to protect the public from blood-borne diseases.

All licensed tattoo artists in Hawai‘i must show proof to the health department that they have attended and passed an OSHA-approved bloodborne pathogen transmission prevention class to receive a Hawai‘i State tattoo artist license.


The tattoo licensing requirement ensures artists have received formal course work in required aseptic techniques and practices to prevent the transmission of blood-borne diseases to their customers or themselves when tattooing. Blood-borne diseases include HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, tetanus, and other infections which may become life threatening.

On Jan. 24, health department agents observed eight individuals without a valid Hawai‘i State tattoo license at the Honolulu Tattoo Expo. Four additional unlicensed artists were detected on Jan. 25.

“The complete disregard for public health rules placed the public at undue risk of contracting a bloodborne disease,” Food Safety Branch program manager Peter Oshiro said in a press release.


“They placed profits above public health. We hope this maximum fine sends a strong message to tattoo expo operators that only those persons with a valid Hawai‘i State tattoo artist license may practice the occupation of tattooing in Hawai‘i.”

Section §321-379, HRS, allows the Department of Health to impose fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

The health department has issued the maximum fine due to the expo operators’ “open disregard for Hawai‘i laws designed to protect public health.”


The Honolulu Tattoo Expo is not affiliated in any way with the Pacific Ink and Art Expo (PIAE).

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