Calgary 'residential tattoo operation' shut down, clients advised to be tested for HIV and hepatitis

Alberta Health Services is warning anyone who got inked at a now-closed "residential tattoo operation" in Calgary known as Discount Tattoo to be tested for communicable viruses including Hepatitis B and C, and HIV.

'I didn't realize the strict rules around tattooing in this province,' reads new ad offering other services

The operator of Discount Tattoo posted this image along with an online ad that states: 'Alberta health has asked me to remove my previous ads. Im (sic) posting now for tattoo design and stenciling.' (Screenshot/

Alberta Health Services is warning anyone who got inked at a now-closed "residential tattoo operation" in Calgary known as Discount Tattoo to be tested for communicable viruses including Hepatitis B and C, and HIV.

The tattoo operator, Ryan Kinsella, ran the operation out of a home at 224 7A St. N.E., according to Judy MacDonald, medical officer of health for the Calgary zone.

"This particular home-based tattoo operation did not have proper sterilization or sanitation processes in place," MacDonald said in a release.

"To prevent the spread of infection from one person to another, equipment used in tattooing must be cleaned, disinfected and sterilized according to health standards."

MacDonald later elaborated during a press conference, saying clients of Discount Tattoo were being served at a desk in a common living area of the home that was "strewn with papers and cigarette butts."

"It was not clean," she said. "It was very unsanitary."

Dr. Judy MacDonald, medical officer of health for the Calgary Zone, speaks to reporters about the tattoo shop that Alberta Health Services shut down. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

MacDonald is advising anyone who received tattoos at Discount Tattoo or from Kinsella elsewhere to call Health Link at 811 to arrange for confidential virus testing.

AHS said it ordered the closure of Discount Tattoo on Jan. 28 and the order remains in effect until the operator has addressed all violations "and is capable of providing tattoo services in accordance with all regulations and legislation in Alberta."

"It is the responsibility of all tattoo facility operators – whether residential or otherwise – to ensure all regulations are met and operations are compliant," MacDonald said.

In an online ad posted Monday and titled "Tattoo artist awaiting permits," an advertiser going by the name Ryan Kinsella says he has been shut down by health authorities but is still offering other services.

"I didn't realize the strict rules around tattooing in this province, or failed to properly look into them," the ad states. "Alberta health has asked me to remove my previous ads. Im (sic) posting now for tattoo design and stenciling."

Alberta Health Services says it ordered the closure of a home-based tattoo business being operated out of this house in northeast Calgary. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

MacDonald said AHS first first made contact with Kinsella in November after noticing his online ads as well as downtown posters advertising his tattoo services.

She said Kinsella told officials he wasn't aware of the health rules surrounding tattoo shops in Alberta and agreed to stop operating.

Environmental health officials then saw his ads again in January and decided to issue the shut-down order, MacDonald said.

"We have no idea of how many people might have used the services of this particular tattoo operator," she added.

To confirm a tattoo operation has been properly inspected, you can call AHS at 403-943-2288.

You can also review closure orders issued by AHS online at

This is the full closure order issued by AHS:


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