10 Tattoos That Can Be Most Troublesome In Professional Settings, According To Tattoo Artists

by Eva Taylor Grant
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What kind of tattoo you get is up to you, but ignoring the variables in your life that will affect how this tattoo is perceived probably isn't the safest option. Over the years, tattoo artists have seen public opinion on tattoos change, but there are still certain designs and placements that prove tricky to pass off. So if you're wondering if tattoos affect job opportunities, you may want to take the advice of the artists who've witnessed the changes happen.

Despite how open the people around you may be, there are still people and professions that are quite trepidatious when it comes to tattoos. "Ultimately you should get tattoos that make you happy," tattoo artist Jordanne Le Fae, tells Bustle. "But, unfortunately, the rest of the world [may] judge you everyday based on it's content, so be attentive to content and placement." Even if the data is inconclusive about whether having a tattoo actually affects your chances of employment, it's still possible that you'll encounter more difficulty with some specific kinds of tattoos.

Because tattoo opinions change so often, listening to artists can help you keep your finger on the pulse of what is, and isn't, working out for professionals these days. "With anything, there are fads — even in tattooing," tattoo artist Tiara Nikole Gordon tells Bustle. "[...] In my first few years of learning, I was advised not to tattoo hands, throats or basically anything that would be visible [...] However, as time went on — [...] [there became more] open minds in the professional world." So although it varies case by case, it's still helpful to pay attention.

Here are 10 tattoos that can be the most troublesome in professional settings, according to tattoo artists.


Ring Tattoos

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Certain trendy tattoos can prove to be problematic in professional situations, even if they seem harmless.

"Even 'tasteful' things like a ring tattoo can still be a pretty big negative to an employer, customer, or client," Liz VanBorden, tattoo artist at Black Sheep Studios, tells Bustle.


Hand And Neck Tattoos


One old-fashioned stigma around tattoos seems to still stand. Tattoo artists find that hand and neck tattoos in general can be problematic in a traditional professional setting.

"We tattoo tons of people in the restaurant industry and hand, neck, or full sleeve tattoos seem to make no difference in job placement or upward mobility, [but] when we tattoo people in more corporate industries, tattoos tend to be delegated to areas easily covered by sleeves and pant legs," tattoo artist Max Brown, co-owner of Brown Brothers Tattoo, tells Bustle. So the viability of hand and neck tattoos largely depends on your industry and company culture.


Darker-Themed Designs

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If you're going to go with a visible tattoo, artists can help lead you towards designs that may be less troublesome at work.

"With the ubiquity of all styles of tattoos these days, it's more accepted to have a non-offensive tattoo in a high profile area of the body," Brown says. "For example, flowers or mandalas on a hand or neck would probably go over better in a conservative environment than a skull or snake." If you want a darker design, your artist may steer you towards tattooing it on an area of your body you can cover easily.


Homemade Tattoos

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If you're a fan of stick and poke tattoos, or are wearing a design a friend gave you at a party, you may encounter problems with your ink in a professional setting.

"[People commonly ask] homemade tattoos [...] to be removed, because of employment," Christopher Harris, owner of laser tattoo removal clinic Clean Slate Ink, tells Bustle. "They represent a previous lifestyle that the employee does not want to portray at [their] job." This is not true in all cases, but may be something worth considering.


Tribal Tattoos


Not only are tribal tattoos potentially quite culturally appropriative, but also they're becoming increasingly dated.

"Tribal tattoos are being removed by professional [people] daily," Harris says. So it may be best to consider something else when thinking about the implications.


Low Quality Tattoos


While employers may be allowing tattoos in traditional workplaces more and more, there are still certain tattoos they may interpret as red flags.

"This is why it is so important to research your artists before getting worked on," Le Fae says. "You can get a bad tattoo at a tattoo shop. Currently, none of the licensing required for tattooing has anything to do with quality of art." If you have a tattoo you're concerned about, a new artist may help you transform the design with a touchup or cover up.


Pot Leaves


The content of your tattoo design can be as troublesome as the location. So something as overt as having a tattoo of a marijuana leaf may be troublesome.

"If you have a pot leaf on your arm, many employers (especially those that do regular drug screenings) may opt to not hire you simply because of that," Le Fae says. This doesn't mean you can't get this design, but may indicate you may want to put it somewhere clothing would hide if you have a traditional office job.


Graphic Tattoos


Dark-themed tattoos aren't the only ones that can cause trouble; overtly graphic tattoos are potentially a bigger problem in the workplace.

"If you intend to work with kids, but have a bloody scary tattoo [...] you may be passed for that reason," Le Fae says. If you're changing jobs and suspect your tattoo may be an issue, you can work with a tattoo artist or tattoo removal specialist to find a solution.


Stars On The Face

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Some face tattoos are trendier than others. But even the most delicate ones can be difficult to pull off in the workplace.

"The most popular example of a tattoo I have had to turn down the most and the most troublesome [is] stars on the face," Gordon says. While this design may look pretty, you may want to seriously consider potential ramifications before making your final decision.


Throat Tattoos


Throat tattoos are the final type of tattoo that can be troublesome in professional settings. For this location, even the most harmless designs may be worth thinking twice about.

"When I get a request for a throat tattoo, my first question is what they do for a living, [because] throat tattoos are frowned upon in the work force," Gordon says. "I am concerned when learning about a client that has a business attire job and wants a throat tattoo." So make sure you and your artist have had a proper conversation before taking the plunge.

While more and more industries are becoming comfortable with tattoos in the workplace, tattoo artists still pay attention to the kinds of tattoos that, in general, are the least difficult to pull off at work. You may want to make sure that you have a conversation with your artist about tattoo design and location so that you can get exactly what you want out of your new ink.