Visible tattoos - Are they as damaging as they sound?

I’m on the verge of having some extensive tattoo work done on my forearm, which, as you can imagine, is a highly visible area. I figure, though, that before I make a final decision, I should at least ponder the repercussions of getting a tattoo on that part of my body. Now, I already have tattoos elsewhere - in spots that are more easily concealable - and I can’t foresee myself ever getting any tats on areas which are blatantly obvious (such as the neck, face, palms, etc.), and it isn’t as if the forearms can’t be easily covered with a long sleeve shirt.

I guess that the larger concern is whether visible tats have this purportedly devastating long-term effect on employment opportunities. I mean, I work in retail now, and farther down the road I hope to work in a creative industry, which to my knowledge doesn’t discriminate against visible tats at all.

What is your experience with visible tattoos? Do you have any yourself? What is your opinion of them? Do they really have a damaging effect on a person’s employment opportunities?

No. I’m guessing you’re a guy, so any job where tattoos would be a problem would be a job where you’d be wearing long sleeves & a suit anyways, so the arm doesn’t matter. The only places that could really have an affect are the neck, head & hands.

Of course, you’re soon going to get replies from the usual SDMB suspects saying that even *one *tattoo makes you a horrible person whom no one will ever employ, and it’s a decision you will regret for the rest of your life and OMG imagine what you’ll look like when you’re 80.

Now that that’s out of the way…

Just don’t get visible tattoos of declawed cats circumcising babies and you’ll be alright.

At least here.

As Eyebrows said, this won’t end well.
Anyways, I have a forearm tattoo, it’s small, easily covered and quite ‘tame’ so to speak. I’ve never had any problems, but I work in the family business and didn’t really expect it to be an issue. So far, customers don’t really care either, I’ve had nothing but compliments, again though, it’s pretty tame.

You said you were going into the creative industry. If that’s something like graphic design, entertainment (music, motion picture, TV) etc, I wouldn’t be the least bit worried. Hell, I wouldn’t be worried to begin with, but then I like tattoos. What are you planning to get? You said extensive, but there’s a difference between an extensive tattoo of a naked zombie raping a newborn horse and an extensive tattoo of a tree with roots made to look like a Celtic knot.

My turn.
[sarcasm]Tattoos are stupid and a waste of money, why would you want to destroy your body like that.[/sarcasm]
There, now it’s really out of the way. (And to everyone who says that and really means it…:rolleyes: that’s not what this thread is about, but I’m sure we’ll have a few threadshitters anyways.)

I want to get a rope spear that’ll wrap around my forearm a few times and have its arrow come to a point at the hilt of my wrist. The rope might wind up being a celtic knot rope too so that it can tie into another tattoo that I have on the same arm, and I want to have a serpent wrap around the whole design and have everything be enveloped in blue flames. Like I said, it’s an extensive idea, but I don’t think that it could be construed as offensive in any way and the whole thing is supposed to represent inner strength or power.

I’m just curious to see if there would be any negative repercussions to something like that. Hell, I’m planning on having a full sleeve done on the opposite arm at some point in the future, so I hope that these devastating consequences I keep hearing about turn out to be nonsense.

I’m a lawyer and I have, inter alia, a very large tattoo (that I had pre-law school from my “I’m going to be a musician!” days) covering my forearm from my elbow to my wrist. In a business suit you can’t see it at all, unless I move my arms a lot, which I frequently have to do in trial, such that I have had jurors come up to me afterwards and inform me with a grin that they saw it poking out of my sleeve. If I had it to do over again, I might have rethought my decision to have the tattoo go all the way to my wrist and might have dialed it back an inch or two so that it doesn’t poke out of my shirt sleeve, but I don’t have the option of a redo and it’s not enough of a professional pain in the ass to get removed. Plus, I still like it.

In my case having an almost-but-not-quite visible tattoo just makes me an oddity in the legal profession, but I’ve had some good fortune. I graduated at the top of my class and I have a good resume, so I’m merely considered an eccentric by my peers rather than a screwup. By having a rather large forearm tattoo I pretty much walked right up to the line of what I can get away with professionally; a facial, hand, of neck tattoo would probably be a death sentence. So, I’ve gotten away with it, but if you ever, ever think you might work in a professional position I would urge you: give it serious thought before you do, and if you do think about whether you want it to go all the way to your wrist so that it pokes out of your shirt sleeve.

Well, I’ve been working in a “creative industry” (advertising and graphics) for three decades, so maybe I can shed some insight.

If you’re really one of those “creative types” – an artist, photographer, writer, etc. – no one will care even if you have obsecenities tattooed across your forehead. However, at some later point, creative types often wind up in management, which means they consult directly with clients. Once you start meeting with clients, all bets are off as to what’s acceptable or unacceptable.

All I can really say is that some people strenuously object to people with tats. That number is growing smaller as body art becomes more widespread, but it’s unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

Like pravnik and kunilou have mentioned, be careful about placement and think really hard about what the consequences of your tattoo design will mean when dealing with professional positions. You really do never know when you’re going to end up working in an environment where tattoos are deemed unacceptable.

I have a really extensive tattoo: it starts from my shoulder cap, wraps down my side, and ends mid-thigh. If I’m wearing a t-shirt and shorts or a dress that covers the cap sleeve, you’d never know I was tattooed. However, with the way that women’s wear is designed, a small amount of it always pokes out if I’m just wearing a cap sleeve shirt. As a librarian, this means that elbow-length shirts are a big part of my wardrobe, even when it’s hot. The current and last positions required that I maintain a professional standard of dress, so I was wearing a lot of suit jackets anyway. Had I gone with a tattoo that poked a little further out into “public space” on my skin, I may have had some issues with getting hired regardless of how good I am at my job and how much experience I have. I’m in an industry that varies pretty widely as to whether tattoos are acceptable or not, and management generally does not have visible tattooing if they’re tattooed at all. However, it’s not unheard of because librarians are accepted as potentially being somewhat eccentric folks-- it’s just very much dependent upon the individual set of folks you work with as to whether it’s okay to be known as being tattooed.

All it takes is, “Why can’t I show my tattoo, when Joe over there has one.” And he has his shirt sleeves rolled up

It corporations it can be death. Remember you have to keep it covered at all times. You’re not going to be able to go into your office and roll up your shirt sleeves.

HR will come in tell you to roll down your sleeves, and there’s write up #1.

My last few jobs were with major corporations and they come down on you. Plus when you go for promotions, it does factor in. It might not keep you from getting the job, but it’s not going to sit well as you try to climb higher up a corporate ladder.

Retailers give you more room and government jobs, like the post office don’t seem to care, at least judging from the neck tats you see.

The tattoo that looks nice on you know, isn’t going to look good 20 years later when your skin changes. I’m over 60 and the people I know my age with tattoos, they rarely age well.

There are certain kinds of inks that are made to dissolve easier under lasers, so you may want to consider that, in case.

A tattoo is a statement, and you’ll be making it for life.

I’ll give you the perspective of someone who is fairly anti-tattoo - I don’t have any myself, and I don’t anticipate ever getting any. I don’t like tattoos, and if I was in a position to hire people, I would probably be prejudiced against someone with sleeves of tattoos (I don’t believe tattooed people are a protected class). All tattoos look like scribbling to me, and I think it’s silly to want to have permanent scribbling on yourself where other people can see it (I think the scribbling I can’t see is silly, too, but I can’t see it).

The best piece of advice you’ll ever hear on the subject: I’ve met plenty of people who regretted getting tattoos, but I’ve never met or heard of anyone who regretted not getting a tattoo.

Think about that for a minute. When I was 19, I planned on getting tattooed. Other things distracted me from doing it, plus I never quite got over my lingering doubts about whether or not it was, after all, a silly idea.

I am now 46 and I am extremely glad that I managed to dodge that particular self-inflicted wound. I wouldn’t have got anything obvious anyway, but I am very very glad I didn’t get anything at all. I wish I could claim wisdom, but I have to credit dumb luck more. Every time I’ve seen a tattoo, these last couple of decades, I breathe a little sigh of relief that I didn’t get one.

Now, if anyone wants to call that “thread-shitting”, go ahead and report it to the mods. Because I’ll certainly be reporting any abuse directed towards me.

Look at it this way. Getting a job can be very, very difficult. Getting a stable, good paying job in a tough economy can sometimes feel like an impossibility. Tough economies come and go, but they always come back and tattoos never go away. There are certainly lots of great jobs where tattoos are perfectly OK. They are lots of people who like and are even enthusiastic about tattoos. BUT, there are also a lot of people that dislike them and won’t hire someone because of them. Some of those people might be hiring for a job that you really want, and some might be potential customers for a business you are in.

Lots of people have lost out on jobs and have been dismissed for having a tattoo. No one has ever been passed over for not having one. Like it or not, and plenty of the loudmouths in this thread will sing their praises, tattoos will limit your employment opportunities. It may not be a catastrophic effect, but it might feel like it if you miss that one job you really want (or worse, really NEED).

Wait until you HAVE a career. Wait until you are established and sure about what you’ll be doing and that you’ll be able to get a job based on your credentials. Right now you might think you want to work in a creative field, in 10 years you may not. Or you may find that that creative field won’t feed you and yours. Plus there are lots of creative fields that do put an emphasis on appearances and tattoos might rule you out. Wouldn’t it suck to lose out on that Pixar job (insert dream job here) because some aged Disney honk thought you looked like a goon?

Tattoos are a trend, a quickly over saturating one at that. What is acceptable now might not be in 10 years. Tread cautiously, being poor sucks.

Project much? I’m just saying…

As too how they look when you’re older, well, go spend an afternoon at the Great Wolf Lodge. IMHO those cool, trendy tasmanian devil’s et al as a hot twenty year old don’t have quite the same effect when you’re 30 something, faded colors, beer gut and a couple of rug rats. I’d at least try to get something that might be appropriate for decades rather than only being something that can be pulled off well for a couple of years. :smiley:

Shit I never want a tatoo, but could care less if you get one. From a business perspective, I’d say you definately do want one that can be covered up with a long sleeve shirt 'cause this can be an issue depending on what you might do later in life.

Just started getting my tats - first 1 last march and all 3 on my forearms - at 45. I recently started a new job and learned that if they saw the tats I would not have got the job. I work in IT and in a management roll. The tats would have given my new employers the wrong impression of me. I was told that when they first found out about the tats they thought I would not have fitted in (heard through the grapevine) but as I am good at my job, approachable and ‘a nice guy’ it worked out. I wear short sleeve shirts at times – but not when outside clients are in – after all others have said it – some people thinks it’s wrong and may cause problems for my employer.

Go for it but be aware it may cause problems in work once they become aware of it. But as long as your good at your job and know when to cover up – no problem.

I have a full sleeve and never had a problem. As an elementary school teacher i thought it would be a big issue if the kids found out. Turns out nobody cared at all, and least nobody ever said anything to me, except on the last day of school, (most schools here use uniforms) and it’s kind of traditional for kid to mess with their shirt, like write on it and stuff, and this one boy 11 years old, had different drawing and scribbles all over his arm and his mom was mad at him because they had to attend a ceremony a few hours later, anyway he said in protest ‘but how come Mr.X can?’ It was awkard but no one really cared.

I just got my one and only tattoo this year. It’s on the inside of my wrist. It seems to be an obvious place, but 90% of it is covered by my watchband. It’s been through two parental visits now and no one has noticed - and both my dad and my SO’s parents are very observant. I picked it specifically because I knew I would be able to hide it.

I’m 35, so it wasn’t an impulsive youthful decision. Just make sure you can hide it, and make sure it’s attractive - i.e., go to a good artist. I visit “Ugliest tattoos” and it’s awful what some people put on their bodies…looks like they just did it themselves.

Although I admit I am not too concerned about what I will look like when I get old. :slight_smile: It’s on a part of my arm that will be the last to wrinkle, and by that time, I’ll no doubt be a mass of wrinkles anyway.

As opposed to all that tight, firm, slammin’ hot AARP skin around the tattoo?

You are pushing it.

This is coming from a person with a nearly full bodysuit tattoo. Mine ends at the elbows, knees, and collarbones. In normal business attire, or even something like a guyabera shirt and cargo shorts, my tattoo is pretty much invisible. I recommend that you strongly consider three and four times before going all the way down tot he wrist as you are limting yourself to long sleeve attire from that point forward; at least for a few more years until social mores change a bit further.

Just a small amount of ignorance fighting:

A proper tattoo done with modern inks will last far longer than the ones of the past. Even in the last ten years there have been some amazing advancements in the quality of materials used. Certain traditional styles will always age better than some of the newer methods that we haven’t had time to confirm yet. Always do your homework and find a quality artist. You get what you pay for, and just remember: it’s only forever.

You have convinced yourself to get these tats anyway so why bother discussing it? I guess your purpose is to look for support and ridicule those who suggest otherwise on the issue. For the career ladder you seek, it probably doesn’t make a difference so go for it.

The real answer, is that it depends on who you’re working for and what industry you’re working in. And for that matter, on the tattoos. But if you don’t mind wearing long sleeves all the time, it’s not going to be an issue in the first place. Good luck with the artwork and the job search.