Working Ink

Working Ink is a documentation of working class people who wear tattoos in context to the environment of the work place. This film was created to analyze the establishments that permit the open wear of tattoos versus those establishments that do not to better understand the progress of tattoo acceptance. This work was created under the assumption that tattoos are still, generally, not permitted to be worn freely in most professional settings.

The culture of tattooing has been around for thousands of years without a clear origin. Many societies throughout history have had a tattooing culture. For sailors, it was a mark of travel-how far one had been. For African, island, and other tribal cultures around the world, tattoos were used for religious and coming-of-age purposes. Some cultures tattooed family crests.

The American culture of tattooing, however, has had a rocky foundation. During the beginning of the boom in American tattooing in the 1800s, sailors, criminals, and prostitutes were assumed to be the only folks with tattoos, which created a taboo against the art form.

Because of this archaic, lingering perspective, a stigma has formed around tattoo culture, making it difficult for folks with visible tattoos to become hired in a professional work place. However, because of the regained popularity in the 1960s, the stigma in the younger generation at that time had started to die out. Today, 76% of those employed believe that it is difficult to get a job wearing ink, but 73% of employers said they would hire someone with visible tattoos (Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work, 2012).

Jess B.
Jess B., programmer at Pennsylvania State University, freely wear a body suit of tattoos in the workplace.
Jess S
Jess S. hides her tattoos while working for the hospital UPMC as an ophthalmic photographer.
Jessie R.
The Eat’n Park staff were just recently granted permission to wear tattoos out at work. Jessie R. sports the name of a regular on her sleeve.
Cynthia L.
Cynthia L., tattoo apprentice at Gypsy Tattoo Parlor, shows off the first tattoo she created on someone- flowers on herself.