Lucas Costa, a talented tattoo artist from Brazil, has been residing in Ireland for the past six years. However, his recent struggle with the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment (DETE) has overshadowed his dream career. Costa contends that refusing to grant him a work permit, based on the misconception that tattooing isn’t a unique artistry, is both inaccurate and unjust. This article delves into Costa’s predicament and the implications for tattoo artists seeking recognition in the professional landscape.
Challenges Faced by Lucas Costa: Costa, affiliated with Heartbreak Social Club, a prominent tattoo and piercing studio on Dublin’s Drury Street, has encountered several setbacks in obtaining a full-time work permit. Despite Heartbreak Social Club’s endorsement and over 3,000 signatures supporting his cause, Costa’s appeals have been rejected. The DTE categorizes tattoo artists as ineligible for work permits, a decision Costa challenges as it fails to acknowledge the artistic nature of his craft.
Artistic Merit of Tattooing: Costa argues that tattooing deserves recognition akin to other forms of artistry. He emphasizes the diversity of his portfolio, encompassing not only tattoos but also paintings, engravings, metalwork, and jewellery creation. However, the authorities consistently categorize his profession as a beautician or related occupation, further complicating his efforts to secure a work permit.
The Unfair System and Its Impact: In Costa’s view, the decision to label him as ineligible for a work permit is unfair and frustrating. He decries the lack of clarity in the system, stating that as an immigrant, a seemingly arbitrary decision could drastically alter the course of his life. Costa actively seeks signatures to review this latest refusal, emphasizing the need to properly recognize tattoo artists as legitimate contributors to the art scene.
The Importance of Recognition: For Costa, Ireland is not just a place of residence; it’s his home where he has built his dream career and contributed significantly to the local art scene. His plea for recognition extends beyond personal frustration; it highlights the more significant issue of acknowledging tattooing as a respected and legitimate art form. Denying a work permit could force him to leave the country, disrupting his life and the artistic community he has actively enriched.
Department’s Perspective: The Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment maintains that the employment permits system is designed to address skills gaps and labour shortages. The decision to categorize ‘Tattooist’ as an ineligible occupation stems from the belief that there is no labour shortage for this role within Ireland and the EEA. The system operates on a vacancy-led principle, with periodic reviews ensuring its alignment with the needs of Irish businesses and the economy.
Path Forward: In response to the ongoing challenges, the Department announced a consultation period to review the ineligible occupation list. However, Costa’s occupation received no submissions during this period. A report containing recommendations is expected in November, shaping the future landscape for artists like Costa seeking validation and recognition.