My View as a Manager

black and red tattoo machine on pink surface
Andrej Lisakov via Unsplash

As a manager who hires people every now and again, I’m always interested to see how many interviewees come in and have visible tattoos. I know I have an immediate implicit bias as a human but I try not to judge based around anything, physical appearance wise. I let them show through how they describe themself and what they speak to as far as their skills and accomplishments. However, it says a lot about someone if they cover or show their tattoos.

If they show their tattoos blatantly in an interview I know one of two things, they have either done their research on the company and they know that we don’t have a criteria based on appearance (within reason) or they are just very bold. If they haven’t done their research on the company then they are just making a leap of faith hoping the person interviewing them does not have a bias. So if they blatantly show one that could be covered up I usually ask them something about their tattoos (what it means, why they wanted it, etc).

Personally I do not care if someone has visible tattoos they cannot cover up (except face tattoos). However, I must say that even if you do a ton of research on the company it is the safest bet to make sure you cover all your tattoos if possible. It is best just to be safe just in case there is a specific policy to the location you are applying to that says they don’t allow or favor visible tattoos.

Also, the reality of the situation is, if I discriminate against someone because they have tattoos I am 1) a hypocrite and 2) possibly missing out on a potentially great candidate because there are a large amount of people out there who have tattoos these days. Unless someone has offensive tattoos or tattoos on their face I am not going to rule them out on appearance. That is easy for me to say as I work for a company where the official dress code is “bring your whole self to work” but I believe that other organizations and business are quickly shifting towards this culture.

Remember, your safe bet is to always cover the tattoos that you can. You never just want to assume things. You can also bring it up in the interview if you are comfortable and ask what the company view is on tattoos. Then whatever answer they give just be transparent, tell them you have some tattoos that could be potentially visible.

On this lovely May 1st evening, make yourself a strong cocktail, sit back, and relax. You deserve it.

Tattoo Shops are Cleaner than Hospitals?!

person holding tattoo machine
Andrew Leu via Unsplash

They aren’t but they are extremely clean.

I know tattoo shops are not considered an essential place of business but it got me thinking about places that are considered essential and what their environments are like, sanitation wise. When you go to grocery stores or any other place that is considered essential they have hand sanitizer everywhere, place markers on the floor to keep your distance, and employees are wearing masks/gloves usually.

When you think about a tattoo shop you don’t really think about the sanitation practices that happen there every single day. Tattoo shops, by law, are required to have certain items in their shop to stay open and be able to follow protocol so they don’t get into trouble. If you every go to a tattoo shop and it’s dirty and they aren’t wearing gloves or protecting themselves, turn around and leave.

It also got me wondering though that tattoo shops, other than hospitals, are probably one of the cleanest places you could be at right now. Yes, getting a tattoo is receiving an open injury to your body but tattoo artists use multiple hygienic tools and are cleaning if they aren’t tattooing. Their work stations could probably be used for open heart surgery.

I don’t want you to get confused, however, as I am not saying tattoo shops should be open during this time. What I am saying is that given the nature of tattoos, the shops are required to stay extremely healthy and sanitized at all times. They’re are jamming needles under your skin thousands of times a minute. That creates a very epic environment that welcomes all kinds bacteria and germs. If shops want to stay open and provide the best possible experience for their guests then you know they do an amazing job at staying clean and hygienic.

Go wash your hands, right now. You’re welcome for the reminder.

We Must be Patient

man doing tattoo on person's arm
Allef Vinicius @seteales via

Some states are starting to “open back up” as soon as this Friday. That worries me, as top health officials have warned against this and we have not as a collective whole seen a continuous plateau or drop in cases. Now, I want things to open back up as much as the next guy but I’m also very understanding and aware of what will happen if we don’t take this seriously.

The reason I bring this up is because all of my tattoo appointments I had scheduled have been postponed indefinitely as the future of non-essential businesses like tattoo shops are not very clear. They could be closed through the fall for all we know. And I relate my feeling of not being able to get my tattoos to the same feeling people are protesting about not being able to go get their hair done. However, we need to grow up.

I have been itching to get my tattoos and now I’m frustrated that I have no idea when I will be able to get them. But again I understand the importance of these shutdowns. People are dying and we still, as a medical community, are trying to figure out this virus. I understand the frustration and feeling of being trapped and told we can’t do something but we must grow up.

However, I just end up doing what this guy did if I lose anymore patience. If you are feeling trapped and like you need an outlet, do some research on a hobby you have been putting off because you were too busy. Get the ball rolling and challenge yourself, challenging yourself during a time like this can really help break up that monotony. You can also pick up a healthy habit like going for walks or doing exercises outside, we need more sun now than we ever have.

Check out my video on my About Me page that I just put up a few days ago. I had a decent amount of fun making it. Not a lot of fun but a decent amount.

Some Unspoken Conditions and Rules of Tattoos

Other than the fact that tattoos can change your life depending on your line of work or culture, there are some other aspects to think about and review before you jump into your tattoo journey. For starters, remember that tattoos are for life. Even though you can get laser removal or a cover up if possible, laser removal is sometimes more painful than getting the tattoo and cover ups are not always an option. So, as I have mentioned in a previous blog make sure you do your research and let ideas sink in for a bit before you just jump in.

Never get a tattoo while inebriated. This may seem like common sense as alcohol thins the blood but there is a shocking number of people who try to get tattoos while inebriated. Trust me, your tattoo artist will know and any respectable tattoo artist will deny you a tattoo if you show up in that state. If you’re nervous and think that getting a little tipsy will help you get through your session, you’re very wrong. It is very dangerous since the blood is so thin and you bleed during tattoos.

Some other great points can be read in this post. Another unwritten rule or taboo in the tattoo world is the “basic teenage girl” tattoo. That isn’t a slander to teenage girls but we all know someone with a weird looking bird or dreamcatcher on their shoulder or leg that has a phrase with it. Getting tattoos for memorials or phrases that mean a lot to you is a great idea, but again think about the fact that tattoos are on you forever. Which also means to make sure you get a tattoo from a reputable shop with an artist who has a deep portfolio or clean work.

Unsplash/Lucas Lenzi

Because we see so many people with tattoos it’s easy to think we should just waltz into a shop on a random day and get any tattoo that looks cool in the moment. I want to reiterate to you that tattoos should not be rushed and you should really take your time in making sure you’re ready to make that lifelong commitment. Make sure you ask yourself before you get your tattoo, are you trying to impress someone else or are you making a commitment to yourself?

In the meantime, go outside and get some fresh air and Vitamin D. In these times we need it now more than ever.

What Reno, NV Means to Me

I currently live in Reno, NV but growing up a “military brat” I was fortunate (or unfortunate depending on how you view moving) to be able to move around a lot. I was born in Los Angeles, CA, specifically San Pedro, but moved to Virginia Beach, Va at 5 years old when my dad got stationed at the Norfolk naval base. My parents split up soon after and my mom remarried another man in the Navy, insert a witty joke here. Fortunately we only moved to Ohio for 4 years when I was teenager and then moved backed to Virginia Beach at the end of my freshman year of high school.

Fast forward to 22 year old me, I drove all the way across the country from Virginia to Reno. My original intention was to just take a solo cross country trip and stay in Reno for several months to help my grandfather, then I would make my way back home to Virginia. Along the way I saw some amazing landmarks and ate at some awesome places. This was my favorite. Thankfully I decided to stay as my life was truly changed forever. Reno is where I found my purpose and where I was able to truly start my life.

Once I decided to stay in Reno, I started to pursue leadership roles as I knew I wanted to be in a leader style role eventually. However, my background was in human services so I really had to make a big change. After working in a few leadership positions I enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Now as I hold an upper management position at a software development company, I believe I owe a lot to Reno and the whole state of Nevada. Of course more in a metaphorical sense.

I also didn’t even start getting my tattoos until I moved to Reno! So this is really where I believe my life began. In fact, I got a Nevada tattoo on my right ankle but with a little twist. When I was a kid I always thought the state of Nevada looked like a pizza. So, when I got my Nevada tattoo I had that idea brought to life and had a whole tattoo dedicated to Nevada, as you can see below. Also, who doesn’t love pizza?

Nevada Pizza Tattoo on my Right Ankle

If you feel stuck in life, think about changing your environment and going on a journey by yourself. It could be a cross country road trip like what I got to experience or it could be something a little simpler and not requiring a long amount of distance to travel but whatever you do just go experience something different!

Different Treatment for Different Chains of Command

An overlooked aspect of tattoos in the workplace is how they are treated at different levels of a career. That’s to say that if you are in a higher position it is usually assumed that tattoos are unheard of. While those in lower level positions have more push and shove when it comes to viewing tattoos as acceptable or not. This, of course, is speaking in generalities as it can be different for different lines of work. I’m mainly speaking of corporate America and office jobs.

From an anecdotal experience, I can say that I have actually experienced the opposite where the higher ups had a lot of tattoos but it was frowned upon when the lower level employees had them. Ultimately, it depends upon company culture and how upper level management views them. So don’t think that you can be a lower level employee and get away with tattoos unfettered, you will still feel negative feedback dependent upon where you work.

Ice Cream Cone on my Left Achilles

Ultimately, it’s up to you to do research on how the company you work for or want to work for views tattoos. Because the reality is that even though the views on tattoos are changing, the affect they hold in interviews or getting your dream career is a mixed bag, it can still hurt you. In fact, there is still a high percentage (13.85%) of employers who say that it can hurt your chances, especially if they are not able to be covered.

Break down the results from the study explained here, and you can see that employers are also thinking about the role they are hiring for. So you need to be extremely aware of the consequences that could potentially come with getting tattoos and understand that if you decide to get multiple tattoos that certain consequences, good or bad, come along with that choice. In an ideal world, obviously, it shouldn’t matter. Of course as long as your tattoos are appropriate!

In the meantime, while you’re socially distancing and need something to do, check out your local tattoo shops instagram pages and see what they’re up to!

Should You have a “Tattoo Self” and a “Professional Self”?

I do not agree with having two separate forms of self, to have a “tattoo self” and a “professional self” is living a lie. I hope that is not too blunt for you if you are doing that currently but it just does not make sense. In fact I truly believe that having two separate selves only continues the negative stigmas surrounding tattoos in the workplace. Most people can’t successfully be two people at one time anyways, so stop trying.

First and foremost, research is showing that tattoos are quickly becoming a norm in the professional world and as younger generations continue to enter the workforce it should only continue to get better. Just take a look at this Harris Poll conducted 5 years ago showed that 3 in 10 Americans have at least one tattoo. In the meantime, however, while plenty of business still look down on tattoos, you have a job to do in order to help yourself and change the negative stigma around tattoos. That is, only be one self, your true one and only self.

As children we are taught that you treat others the way you want to be treated. If you don’t want people to treat you with disrespect then you treat people with the respect you would want. However, a lot of times we don’t even treat ourselves the true way we want to be treated. By only living as “one self” we can treat ourselves how we truly want to be treated. If you are living a life that is in line with your personal values then people can’t deny you. Or they may but someone else is waiting to then accept you for you living as “one self”.

Ufo Pyramid Tattoo on my Right Wrist

You should also consider the reality of the situation, however. This doesn’t mean that people still wont treat you differently or cross the street when you are heading their way. Whether it is implicitly or explicitly, people still have views and biases that they hold onto until the day they die. The challenging road for you is to stay true to yourself and stay on course, don’t let those people knock you off.

Here’s a homework assignment, write down your values on a piece of paper and challenge yourself to see what changes you need to make in your life.

Can Tattoos Really Hurt You in Your Career?

Unfortunately this is a case by case basis. Building off of my previous post, I can assure you that even from personal experience it could go both ways. Luckily, I have and currently work for a great company that encourages you to bring your whole self to work. In these types of environments you have a much better experience if you have tattoos or want to get tattoos that are easy to see. However, you still have the occasional run in with those who may treat you differently, so it’s unavoidable no matter where you go.

With that being said, I personally feel that no matter where you work you have a strong control over how others will view you. You have control over your behaviors and whether or not you live by your values. If you need some additional support though, some research says that tattoos wont actually hurt your job prospects at all! So for those of you that were worried about that maybe that research will help put your mind at ease. Remember, though, it’s best to discuss these things with your leaders at work so there are no surprises.

My Left Shoulder Tattoo

One misunderstood aspect of human nature are the implicit biases that we hold against others whether we want to acknowledge it or not. You have to be okay with being able to take chances once you decide to go on your tattoo journey. Understand that not every business and every manager is going to be okay with that and that’s okay. Again you have to focus on what you can control which is how you treat others through your behaviors and how well you stick to your values.

In the meantime while tattoo shops are closed, kick back, relax, and make some delicious food that will comfort you and your family during this time.

Unexpected Realities of Getting Tattoos

One of the unexpected realities for me when I started getting tattoos was that there are still a good amount of people out there who will think of you differently if you have them. Now, I knew having tattoos can create a perception around you as a possible gang member or crazy person but I try to dress relatively nice and take care of myself so I thought that doing that would change people’s minds. Unfortunately the reality is that once people make up their minds, they usually stick to it. I actually had to start changing myself as an individual once I started getting more tattoos.

I don’t mean I had to become a different person, I mean I had to start thinking and acting differently. I have always been non-confrontational and a pretty anxious person my whole life. However, I have had to really make a change in my mindset to stop worrying about what other people think of me and handle what was immediately in my control, not what I can’t control which is what other people do. Tattoos have essentially given me a new perspective and outlook on life.

Getty Images

I have truly started to grow and learn that I need to change my outlook on life and how I am treating others. I expect people to treat me with respect and fairness regardless of what I have on my skin so I make sure to go out of my way to do that to others. I have really made a conscious effort to live true to my new values so that way I can help change this still abundant stigma. My hope is that me changing my behaviors and attitude will directly rub off on others who may have had bad experiences or biased opinions of those with tattoos.

There is great news, however, that stigma is shrinking each passing year as more and more younger generations are getting tattoos and entering the workforce. There tattoos have no affect on their performance and people who have a bad bias towards tattoos are recognizing that. That all great things it will take time and effort but I am dedicated to change my behaviors and attitude to help that movement move forward even faster.

As you’re reading this I hope you’re well, go outside and get some sun, maybe have a nice alcoholic beverage while you’re outside.

Days Leading up to Your Appointment

The most overlooked aspect of getting a tattoo is how you prepare, in regards to your health. If it is your first time getting a tattoo or you still are a novice to the tattoo world, you may not understand the stress you are putting your body under when you get a tattoo. Not to mention the hygienic practices that get overlooked 90% of time and end up really hurting you both physically and monetarily in the end.

Your body goes through a bit of a shock when you get a tattoo. The needles puncture the top layer of your skin (epidermis) and go to the layer underneath (dermis). With the amount of capillaries in the region, it helps the ink draw deeper into the skin. While a bunch of needles dig into your skin, your body accounts for this by the immune system responding in the same way as if it were under attack by any other trauma incident. Naturally, your body sends helper cells to fight off the inflammation and punctures.

So how do you prepare for this barbaric process? Well, there is no one thing that will help you have a perfect and painless tattoo. However, you can prepare your body the best possible way you can. First, you want to hydrate as much as possible before your tattoo. I don’t just mean a glass of water 30 minutes before your tattoo, I’m talking about at least a few days of proper hydration. Staying hydrated is just really good in general but it also helps your body respond healthy to the tattoo attack.

The next thing you should do, my personal favorite, is eat plenty of food dense in calories both before and after. When your body goes through that much central nervous system stress you need the calories to fuel your body. When you hear of people passing out during tattoos it is mostly attributed to not eating enough and not staying hydrated plenty of time before your appointment. My most stressful tattoo was the one on my shin, as you can see below.

My Shin tattoo by Andrew Biddlecome

Don’t think that simply staying hydrated and eating enough will make your tattoo process go smooth and easy, it will still hurt but it makes all the difference when you give your body what it needs to succeed.

I hope as you’re reading this that you are healthy and safe during this lockdown. In the meantime, spend some quality time with your family and play a board game!