For Michael Harris of Fort Oglethorpe, what he initially considered to be a deal of a tattoo by an acquaintance of he and his wife, has quickly turned in to an ordeal he didn't quite bargain for, he said.
“It seemed like a good deal, so I went for it...and now it's turned out to be a bad decision,” Harris said.
Officials with the Walker County Health Department could not comment on an on-going investigation, but did acknowledge that it is aware of proposed concerns regarding the woman issuing tattoos without a license.
The name of the tattoo artist in question has not been made public at this time because she has not been charged with any crime.
Attempts to contact the woman for comment regarding this story were unsuccessful.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, Harris agreed to get a $20 tattoo above his left knee from a LaFayette woman, and has since endured pain, aggravation, and added expense.
“I've had plenty of other tattoos, nine in total, but none of them ever hurt like this one,” Harris said. “I knew it hurt more than usual while she was doing it. It really felt like she was going pretty deep into my leg, but I just figured that it was probably just a tender part of the leg or something.”
After receiving the new ink late Sunday night, Oct. 8, Harris says that he knew something was off the next morning.
“I woke up Monday, and my leg was hurting pretty bad,”
“He could barely walk on Monday,” Harris' wife Lisa added.
After toughing it out on Monday, Harris had to leave work on Tuesday, and missed all of Wednesday after going to the hospital and being placed on antibiotics.
“The doctor told me that I have celluitis and that when she gave me the tattoo, she went through the skin, through the fat, and down into the muscle,” Harris said.
Harris says he also visited “Dead Girlz Tattoo & Piercing” on Cloud Springs Road to get their opinion the irritated portion of his leg, and discovered that he wasn't the only one to get a botched ink-job.
“They said that there have been a lot of people who have had tattoos done by her that are having the same kind of complaints that I have,” Harris said.
After the incident, Harris says he learned that the woman isn't a licensed tattoo artist.
“She seemed legit,” Harris said. “We've known her for a little bit. She did the pictures for our wedding last month, and she told us that she also does tattoos. She came over with all her stuff, and even gave us paperwork talking about how to take care and treat it if there was any pain or anything.”
Harris and his wife say that after they discussed the matter with workers at Dead Girlz, a photo of his infected tattoo surfaced on Facebook that has caused the woman to cut ties with them.
“There was a picture on the Dead Girlz Facebook page of Michael's leg, and since then, she (the unlicensed artist) has deleted us, deleted our friends and family, and has taken down the pictures she took for us of our wedding,” Lisa Harris said. “She won't even talk to us now, and we still haven't gotten our pictures of the wedding...I don't even know if will now.”
“Apparently she hasn't done too many tattoos, about 20 or so,” Harris added. “But from what we've heard, about half of the people she's put tattoos on have had some sort of infection afterwards.”
All in all, Harris says that those looking to get new ink should do so at via a licensed parlor, and not worry about paying a little extra to get the work done right.
“It's just not worth it,” Harris said. “It's a little bit more money, but it's better than paying medical bills and having to miss work because you're in pain.”