British Tattoo Artists Federation
The Professional Tattoo Artists Discussion Group
A closed discussion group to enable professional tattoo artists to exchange information on the tattoo process, equipment, and materials used. 

It is open to BTAF members and non member professional tattoo artists, by invitation only. 
For further details

Email: [email protected]

Proof is required that you are professional artist. 

Join the BTAF (Established in 1975)

UK's oldest professional tattooing organisation.

Jim Mager founded the BTAF in 1975. Jim had a shop in Fenton, Stoke on Trent. It is still there today at 301 King Street.

Jim spent some time in the hospital, and one of the doctors talked to him about his tattoos. He felt that tattooing then was misunderstood by the medical profession due to some of the practices carried out by tattooists of that period and earlier.

Many tattooists had seen the importance of changing needles and colour for each client and using an autoclave to sterilize the tubes and needles before use, but it was not widely known, especially by the medical profession back then, that there were tattooists working to such high standards of hygiene.

In those days, an autoclave was very expensive, so a lot of tattooists bought secondhand autoclaves from a man called Towes just outside Blackpool. He had a medical supply company and sold secondhand autoclaves sold off as surplus after the Korean War, they came from field hospitals.

So in 1975, Jim registered the name British Tattoo Artists Federation and began to contact other tattooists and invite them to join, every member was required to use new needles, and colours, and have a working autoclave in their studio. Jim then set about publicising these requirements. 

Many also used ultrasonic cleaners to clean the needles and tubes before sterilizing them in the autoclave. Jim organised a meeting in Ashton Under Lyne to invite more tattooists to join sometime around 1976. In 1977 and 78, Lionel Titchener organized the first BTAF meeting in Banbury Road, Oxford. In attendance was Ronald Scutt, author of Skin Deep and Dr Dawber who was a consultant dermatologist with interest in tattooing.

Also in attendance was Lionel’s Environmental Health Inspector, Alan Longford, of Oxford City Council, who was made an Advisor to the BTAF. 

Another meeting took place in 1979 with about 75 tattooists present. Lionel’s involvement started when he appeared on the BBC 6 o’clock News in the late 1970s on Jim’s behalf as the BTAF secretary, and from then on, he helped Jim to organize and run the BTAF.
The BTAF were involved in drawing up rules under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. The Barbour Index, used by many health authorities as a guide when inspecting tattooing establishments, was based on the BTAF Code of practice in place at that time. Credits to BTAF are found in the back pages.

The BTAF was also invited to comment on, another government scheme. There was a period when many fake ids were being sold on websites. On this occasion, we were invited to have a BTAF representative attend during discussions by a Parliamentary Committee. 

The BTAF were also involved in Parliamentary discussions on introducing plastic tubes and banning the use of stainless steel tubes. This was discussed with a representative from the Heath Minister and various others in attendance, the health inspector that wanted to introduce these changes, a doctor from the medical devices agency, and other government department reps.

The BTAF gave a good argument against this, and the changes were never introduced. When Jim retired, Lionel carried it on until he handed it over to younger tattooists in 2013, asking that everyone do their best to support the new committee in whose hands he is confident that the BTAF will move on to better things.

The BTAF recently became part of the tattoo services committee for the British standards industry. Active Members Paul Butler and Steve Crane advised on procedures for a new voluntary European standard.



Back to Top