HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu man is recovering from a severe infection after getting inked last month at the Honolulu Tattoo Expo.
On Tuesday, the state Department of Health fined organizers $120,000 for allowing unlicensed artists to work on clients.
Richard Robeck says he’s always enjoyed attending the various tattoo expos that come to Hawaii.
Pointing at his arms and legs, he said he has at least 15 of them.
“I have my kids’ names. Just things I like. This is the first time he wrote, ‘I love you dad.'”
The 39-year-old has been collecting ink for more than two decades and has never had any problems until January, when he got a new piece on his calf.
“It says ‘Life’s All Peaches,'” he said.
Weeks later, he’s still recovering from a severe infection.
“It was a lot worse. It was nasty. And it smelled,” he said. “At one point I couldn’t even move my leg. I tried calling the artist, but his phone went straight to not accepting calls.”
He says no one from the Honolulu Tattoo Expo got back to him either.
So he decided to come forward after he learned the event had allowed 12 unlicensed tattoo artists to work on clients.
HNN confirmed the mainland artist who worked on Robeck did have all the proper permits. But it’s clear something went terribly wrong.
“Without a doubt, that’s one of the worst infected tattoos I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Danny Casler, co-founder of the Pacific Ink and Art Expo.
He says infections can happen if tools aren’t properly sterilized.
“Another issue could be the batch of ink. What company was he using? Were there any recalls? Was the ink expired? There’s so many different factors,” said Casler.
He says improper aftercare can also lead to infection.
Robeck says he’s certain that wasn’t the cause. “I know how to take care of it," he said.
He said he’s not looking to make trouble. He’s just interested in getting his botched tattoo fixed.
“Or somehow compensated for it,” said Robeck. “My money back or something.”
Late today HNN got a text from the man who heads up the Honolulu Tattoo Expo. He told us he’d be willing to help Robeck get a full refund from the artist.