To Ink or Not to Ink: Tat is the Question

Posted October 27, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Building Your Brand

A few months ago, I took a quiz that was titled something like “How Millennial Are You?” One of the questions was “Do you have a tattoo?” For me, the answer is no. But in all truth, I love tattoos. I watch Best Ink and Ink Master, I think art on skin can be very beautiful. But at the same time, I know I’ll never, ever get a tattoo, and I am usually the first person to tell others to think twice before doing the same. Why? For the same reasons everyone cautions against tattoos –they’re permanent, they change over time, you might not like them when you’re 60, blah blah blah.

But if you’re trying to make a decision about whether or not to get a tattoo, even in a society where they are increasingly acceptable even in the workplace, I’d encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can you cover it? As much as you love your tattoo, even if it’s one of the favorite things on your body, there may be a time when you want to cover it up. Even if you don’t want to cover it, there may be a time when someone else wants you to cover it. Perhaps you’re in a friend’s wedding and she’d rather your tattoo not be front and center in her photos, or you’d rather someone not see your tattoo in a first job interview. For these reasons, if you’re considering getting a tattoo, prioritize getting it in an area that’s easily covered.
  2. Will it last a lifetime? Many tattoos will need to be touched up over time. Tats on your feet, stomach, etc. are some of the susceptible to stretching, changing, and needing to be retouched. Talk to the artist about this before you let them put a needle on your skin. Will the colors you’re choosing be particularly bad for fading?
  3. Do you have an artist you trust? Tattoos aren’t easy, and tattooing is a serious art. If you’re heading to a shop to get a 20 minute tattoo for under $100, chances are you’re not getting it from a serious artist or someone who was well trained. You wouldn’t buy a car you’d drive for five years for $100, so don’t skimp cash on something you’re going to have on your body for a lifetime. Meet a few artists, have them help you create a custom design, ask them all the questions you need to before they get started, and if an artist shows annoyance or reluctance at any of these questions or steps, walk away. A good artist will be patient and understanding.

In today’s workplaces, tattoos are no longer deal breakers. More and more (especially young) people are getting tattoos and being proud of them. But you have to continue to take into consideration the pros and cons. Weigh the reasons you have for a tattoo and whether they’ll remain reasons 50 years from now. With caution is the only way to approach a tattoo, especially when it comes to matching it to the career you hope to have.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."