A Hawke's Bay tattoo artist fears Government vaccination regulations could shift a number of people in the industry to underground and higher-risk home-based tattoo parlours.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week announced a vaccine mandate for close-contact industries including hospitality, events, gyms, barbers and hairdressers.
Ardern said "if customers should be vaccinated, so should staff" and the system "was designed to bring simplicity to employers".
Non-vaccinated workers in roles requiring vaccination will be given a four-week notice period to get vaccinated before their employment can be terminated.
There is no way to socially distance while getting a tattoo and artists who have long been unregulated are now facing the possibility of Government intervention if they do not follow the mandate.
High Priestess Tattoo in Napier has four artists working in their shop and has been pro-choice regarding vaccinations.
Owner Jarna Muir is worried an "awkward conversation" with one of her artists is soon approaching and feels as a small business she's being backed into a corner around which customers she can take on and which employees she can keep.
Muir is unsure what will happen with her employee, who was unsure about taking the vaccine as she still feels that there is still "a grey area".
Muir said many tattoo artists already operate from home, which can be unhygienic and lead to other dangers, and those who are pushed out from studios would start up parlours from home.
She said, likewise, if all tattoo studios only tattoo vaccinated clients, unvaccinated people will go to artists working from home with "quite unsafe" practices.
Event organiser at NZ Tattoo and Art festival Brent Taylor said most in the tattoo industry would be happy with the vaccine mandate.
From what he had seen in recent days, the majority of New Zealand artists would comply with the mandate.
"The minority that don't will just have to close when at the orange or red light settings, which is their personal choice," Taylor said.
The vaccine mandate could also remove the threat of future lockdowns and disruptions to artists' businesses and work, Taylor said.