It’s not always been that way (although I’ve not always had tattoos), so as much as sticking yourself with needles and ink is now pretty mainstream, I’m so grateful to be able to express myself without having to worry about how easy they are to hide or cover.
There’s still a lot of talk around – and I hear it more often than I’d like from people who want to have an opinion on my skin and body – about trusting people with tattoos in jobs such as nurses, doctors, lawyers... and they’re still not really seen visibly in those industries on the whole. I find it interesting that as a Creative, clients would struggle to believe I can do my job well if I appear corporate, and those in corporate or caring roles are often considered incapable if they express themselves in their body art. I love seeing people with a clear style who love to express themselves. It may be really out-there outfits or rainbow hair colours, but it’s genuinely one of my favourite things about London. Anything goes. It feels like, particularly in London, subcultures are no longer taboo or ridiculed. We all get to be who we want to be! Pride is one of my favourite times of year for that very reason. We see the full melting pot of a community and its supporters, in a month that really does scream LOVE IS LOVE! We still have a long way to go, of course, but I’m taking wins where I can get them right now in this time of political despair... BUT THAT’S FOR ANOTHER TIME.
Being in a London agency bubble may make me naive, though. Moving outside of that – to another country, for example – could quite easily give me a culture shock on the permo ink front. In Japan, there’s still a big association between tattoos and crime There are public places where I simply wouldn’t be welcome with visible tattoos. As it stands, I notice some of the places I travel to have a real lack of tattooed people, but the only places I’ve ever experienced anything negative is here at home – and more specifically, in work places.
Not this one, though. Here I get to tattoo Tank Girl on one arm, naked ballet dancers on the other, random squiggles on my fingers... and anything else I damn well please. Ultimately, every Creative I’ve ever met lives and breathes creativity. We do it at work, but it doesn’t stop. Some people paint, and others write. I take pictures and I spend 6+ hours being stabbed with needles to cover my skin. But why shouldn’t people who are deemed ‘corporate’ also have a creative outlet? Why shouldn’t those be exactly the same as mine? I got lucky doing a job that I love, but could just as easily have ended up somewhere far less forgiving to being... well, a little odd, as I am.
As I get more and more tattoos, I feel more and more like ‘me’. Ironically I feel less exposed, the more tattoos I get. So having to choose between being ‘me’ or adhering to a workplace version of me would have been a really big ask. So I get to wander around with pictures on me, take days off to sit in the tattoo chair, and moan to buggery the day after about the pain. Sorry, team!