The Writing’s on the Wall; Well, the Ink is Back

I would like to share an article with you.  I have reprinted it below.  Here’s the credit:

Tattoos at Work: Show and Tell?

By Robert DiGiacomo, for Yahoo! HotJobs

For Jen Denis, a senior art director at a Philadelphia-based ad agency, having a tattoo has been a nonissue where her career is concerned.

At her agency, Gyro Worldwide, a boutique firm known for cutting-edge work for major fashion and liquor brands, about a third to half of her art department colleagues have tattoos. Denis has three Japanese-inspired designs, covering roughly two-thirds of her back.

“It’s not expected that I have a conservative appearance,” says Denis, adding that the agency’s creative culture is “not about who we are or how we look.”

During a previous job at a more corporate agency, Denis, 30, often covered her tattoos, but she doesn’t see any reason why her body art would limit her career prospects. Her experience nonetheless highlights a fluid tolerance for employee tattoos.

Trust Your Instincts

The decision on whether to reveal your tattoo on the job depends in large part on your field and your office environment.

“You have to use your own discretion in terms of what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate,” says Stephen Viscusi, a corporate headhunter and author of On the Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work. “There’s no right or wrong answer. It has to do with the industry you’re in, and what’s acceptable for that industry.”

The Big Cover-Up

If you’re unsure about how your tattoo will be received in a job interview, cover it up, recommends Donna Flagg, president of the Krysalis Group, a New York City-based human resources and management consulting firm. “I would always play it conservative because you just don’t know enough about the organization yet.”

What Defines You?

Don’t let an especially prominent tattoo upstage your appearance as a professional.

“It’s fine to be an individual, but anything that’s going to separate you isn’t necessarily a plus,” says Viscusi, who also hosts a syndicated radio show on workplace issues. “If it’s a snake, a religious image, or an ex-husband or ex-wife, it distracts from who you might be. Instead of being the smart person in cubicle so-and-so, you’re the one with the snake.”

Grounds for Dismissal

If your company has a no-tattoo rule — or a dress code stipulating tattoos should be covered — you could run the risk of being fired if you don’t conform.

“It’s really about an agreement,” Flagg says. “If we state clearly we have a no-tattoo policy, then displaying yours could be grounds for firing, just like with any policy.”

My Generation

People in their 20s and 30s are more likely to view tattoos as just another fashion accessory, while colleagues or bosses older than 40 may think otherwise.

“It’s a generational conflict,” Flagg says. “Even in a cool, hip company, there are still people in their 40s or 50s who ascribe meaning to tattoos…and think they are a rogue or rebellious thing to do. That’s not how it’s being seen in the generation that’s having them done.”


Okay, now that’s done.  I remember sitting in on a talk by a school person who was, basically, in charge of hiring/firing at a large school corporation.  More on that in a minute.  But, getting right to it, this person told us that it was not legal for the corporation to not hire us because we have a tattoo (this was a class of teachers).  Following that, he said, basically, “let’s just say that we have never hired anyone because they HAD a tattoo.”

The meaning was clear:  don’t show, don’t tell, don’t get (if you haven’t).

Here’s that “we’ll get back to that”:  this corporation has all kinds of problems, from the way they do their placements to schools that people really don’t want to work for.  Yet, the idea is made that they don’t want tattoos on their teachers.

Beautiful? or too much? or both? or neither?

I have never truly wanted a tattoo.  I don’t care to have something on my skin that could possibly cause cancer down the road or that would cost hundreds or thousands to have removed.  However, I understand the desire for people to show their individuality.  I even think they can be very beautiful.  I do feel that the reason young people get them is to show their uniqueness and to express their creativity and sense of art.  It is not a rebellious attitude or whatever.  Those days seem to be done.

My question to you all out there is:  What do you think of tattoos?

More to the point:  How do you feel about them in the job market?



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  • robincoyle  On April 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I’m not a fan. Small and tasteful is okay, but big gaudy tattoos all over turn me off. I can’t help but wonder how those tattoos will look when the person is in the 80s.


  • thehappyhugger  On April 2, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Gosh Scott, I was going to talk about tattoos too on a post. Great minds hey? Anyway, my daughter has two tattoos, and I think they are absolute works of art. It is an art and she was interested in becoming a tattoo artist a while back, but has since changed her mind. I must say though that I do admire them on others, but don’t have a tattoo myself because I just don’t have the need or want for one


  • Becki Duckworth  On April 2, 2013 at 1:39 am

    I am thankful to live in Portland. The piece I have on my back is larger than the one you posted. I waited until I was 40 years old to start my back piece. If you read my blog under the Hawaii post you will see my post. the only time I was asked to cover my back completely with a scarf around my shoulders was when I designed and was present for the Presidents event.


    • kindredspirit23  On April 2, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Thank you for the comment. My son also lives in Portland. Seems strange that you should be asked to cover your back when you are a designer.


      • Becki Duckworth  On April 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

        I agree. Most of the time it was fine. Only on rare occasion did I receive a sneer from someone.We have had beautiful weather in Portland the past couple weeks. I hope your son has had some time to get out and enjoy.


        • kindredspirit23  On April 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm

          He loves it there. I am going to see about visiting this summer.


        • Becki Duckworth  On April 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm

          I love living here as well. Summer in Oregon is wonderful. I hope you are able to visit.


        • kindredspirit23  On April 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

          I am working on it. Train ticket round trip seems to be about $275 and takes 3 days each way at about a 58 hour trip total with one stop in between.


        • Becki Duckworth  On April 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm

          Wow that’s a long ride. Are you coming from midwest or east coast? But the price is good. Do you get a sleeper for that price ?


        • kindredspirit23  On April 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm

          It’s from Indianapolis to Chicago to Portland.
          No, it’s a seat. Sleeper would be a lot more.
          Long ride, but I am told that the views are great.


        • Becki Duckworth  On April 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm

          Oh I am sure the ride is gorgeous. I took the train from Portland to Seattle only 3 hour trip and it was lots of fun. i want to try one of those murder mystery dinner rides they have. I think that would be a blast.


  • I have no tattoos and if I’m honest, I do judge people if they’re covered in ink. I don’t really like it. My hubs has a small one and I guess it’s the size and content that is distasteful to me.


    • kindredspirit23  On April 1, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      I have a very good friend who feels the same way. I would have little problem dating someone with a tattoo. I believe he would, a lot simply because it is a tattoo. To me, it is just a choice. There are those I don’t like, but that is different.


  • behindthemaskofabuse  On April 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Okay, I’m 42 I have two and one is rather big, i am scheduled to have another one done next month. i love them. to me they have deep meaning, each one i get, not to mention i love art and it’s taking art with me, add in it is a symbol of freedom for me, as i was finally able to break free from what my parents thought and admit i love them.
    also it seems more people of all ages these days have them. they are very common place now.

    as far as on a job, i guess it depends but they are a part of me and not distasteful.


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