A tattoo won't impact your career, your boss probably has one

Traditionally, tattoos might have been associated with criminals, scruffs and vulgarity. But, recent events and trends have seen them shake off that image to represent the polar opposite: delicate hipster style, poignancy – and even altruism.  


Some surprising candidates are happily revealing their tattoos to the world. You might assume those of a conservative persuasion to clutch their proverbial pearls and shun the needle, but you'd be wrong.

Lachlan Murdoch, executive co-chairman of News Corp and scion of Rupert has a tribal band on his arm that can be clearly seen when his shirt sleeves are rolled to the elbow.

BBC Question Time host David Dimbleby has gone public about the scorpion on his shoulder, which he got aged 75. David Cameron's wife Sam has a dolphin on her ankle.

And who can forget the grandest of reveals, ultra-conservative Nationals Chief Whip MP George Christensen with his remarkable religious tattoo, which broke the internet in a Fairfax photo shoot late last year.

Tailored tats

According to Steve Barkla, Senior Manager and Head Fitter at upmarket tailor Oscar Hunt, judgement from those without body art is also beginning to soften,

Gone is the Saville Row and Are You Being Served? image of tailoring's buttoned-up conservatism; Barla has forty tattoos in total "covering my entire torso up to my neck and down to my hips, shoulders down to my wrists and thighs down to my ankles."

He does, however, still need to win over clients with charisma: "I wear a suit every day at work so my tattoos are mostly covered, however you definitely catch glimpses from beneath a shirt cuff. A lot of my clients can be a little conservative and work in a much more corporate environment, and first impressions mean a lot when you're only dealing with a client for an hour each visit. As a heavily tattooed professional, sometimes I can see there may be preconceptions about who I am, so I need to break down those barriers quite quickly to gain the trust that's required when creating a suit for someone."

It's now more about the design and particular time of life, than contrived or specific symbolism: "Most symbolise times when I've had a major change or achievement. Perhaps I've used them as markers in time for memories. I no longer get tattoos to have deep and meaningful stories."


Relaxing standards

For Mitchell Craig Woll, Co-Founder and Technical Director of events app Affynity, there's less pressure: "As an app developer and entrepreneur, there's less stigma surrounding tattoos as it's not your traditional office desk job." His heavily tattooed forearm stills raise eyebrows, though: "When they're exposed, response is mixed. Generally, older generations with narrow mindsets are visibly intimidated or switched off by it." It can be a handy ice-breaker: "I've noticed that the interest is increasingly growing. I've had people that otherwise wouldn't speak to me come and ask to check it out or make a comment."


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The new delicacies

Tattooist Brendan Russell has noticed a shift in tattoo style being requested: "We're seeing a huge upsurge in delicate dot work, geometric patterns and Tibetan and Indian flowers. All of these styles take a lot of fine line art work."

This new, elegant, style appeals to both men and women, he says, and breaks from the last big trend: "The previous popular style involved realism through colour and portraiture. Now hipsters are more likely to come in and request mandalas, little arrows, anything involving fine lines. I've noticed big name realism artists dropping their prices as this new trend takes over."

The softer, less confronting style is seeing professionals get tattoos in subtly visible places: between their fingers; on their wrists, along collarbones; behind their ears.

Invisible ink

People are also requesting "scarification" which is "designed to be more subtle than the dark black of recently popular tattoos. Over 12-18 months, a soft subtle scar develops which looks different depending on where you get it, but can look vibrant white in certain lights."

His new studio, Transition in Erina Fair, is in a shopping centre which has broadened the diversity of his clients: "From estate agents to the elderly getting their grandchildren's names or the breast cancer symbol, I see them all."

The bee's knees

Following the terrorist attack at Ariana Grande's concert, tattoo artists in Manchester grouped together and did something pretty special. They announced that they'd be tattooing bees onto people for £50 (A$85) – with all proceeds going to the families of victims of the attack.

The bee is a symbol of Manchester's industrial past (after its textile mills were described as "hives of activity" in the 1800s). It has now evolved to one of solidarity with the city and victims of the deadly attack.

Hundreds queued to get bee tattoos showing their support, and Ariana Grande and her crew members all got bee tattoos backstage at her One Love Manchester tribute concert last month.

With research showing that heavily tattooed professionals felt that tattoos made them more accessible to younger coworkers, the new fine line ink could be a powerful symbol. Flashing your mandala could become a way of showing colleagues and clients that you're approachable, charitable – and debonair to boot.

Work the corporate circuit and sporting some serious ink? Let us know if your art has ever held you back in the comments below.