CLOSING: BigFish Tattoo's Jeffrey Robinson and apprentice Violet .
CLOSING: BigFish Tattoo's Jeffrey Robinson and apprentice Violet . Michele Sternberg

Insurance hike forces tattooist to shut up shop

SKYROCKETING insurance premiums for being "a high hazard occupant" will force Noosa tattoo artist Jeffrey Robinson to close his business next Friday, leaving him and two staff without jobs.

"It's a huge amount of money, about $20,000, and they want me to pay immediately," Mr Robinson, owner of BigFish Tattoo Studio in Tewantin, said.

"I've put everything into this business - all my savings - but I have no option.

"I'll have to close the doors and walk away."

Jeffrey is known around town as a talented artist with a French accent and a big heart.

He specialises in helping breast cancer survivors, by offering beautiful designs to cover their mastectomy scars.

"My mum died from breast cancer so I have a personal connection," he said.

"We see the change in their lives, it gives them back their confidence and they are so happy."

Mr Robinson says it's unfair all tattooists are presumed to have bikie connections.

"The State Government brought in regulations about four years ago after there were bikie problems in Queensland and now we have to apply for a licence every three years.

"That includes police background checks and having our fingerprints taken.

"What other job would you have to do that?

"It's discrimination."

The Tewantin Plaza Body Corporate committee was advised in writing by Body Corporate Brokers (BCB) that "Axis's rating structure for Tattoo Parlour tenancies has increased substantially" and that "if the tattooist was replaced by a low hazard retail (no deep or wok cooking) our terms would alter".

Tewantin Plaza includes a cafe, travel agency, real estate agent, tax accountants and solicitors among other stores.

"I've never had any complaints from the other tenants. There's certainly been no trouble here," Mr Robinson said.

"When the solicitors need a witness on legal documents they have come in here. They wouldn't ask us if they thought we were "high risk"."

Mr Robinson said he was offended the industry was still looked down upon in an era when more women than men now have tattoos and they are fashionable.

"If you look at our online reviews you'll see that people say we create an inviting environment.

"It's not all skulls and crossbones here ... we're about giving a personal experience and putting the customers first."

A spokesperson from Axis Underwriting, which insures the building, declined to comment, referring the matter to the broker.

A spokesperson for the broker, Gold Coast-based BCB, said the matter was ongoing and they had "requested a full premium breakdown from the insurer”.


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