Visible tattoos may pose problems with employers

After seven years of tattooing experience, Matt Owen has seen a slight move towards social acceptance of tattoos.

By Alissa MacDougall

Matt Owen is a tattoo artist at Utility Tattoo (Alissa MacDougall photo)

After seven years of tattooing experience, Matt Owen has seen a slight move towards social acceptance of tattoos. Owen, an artist at Utility, says, “I think a lot more people have gotten tattoos, but at the same time there’s still a little bit of stigma attached to having tattoos that are very visible.”

Visible tattoos are often seen as negative, especially to prospective employers.

“Anytime I will tattoo someone on their hands, faces, or necks I make sure that they are conscious that this could ruin your life; this could ruin your employment for the rest of your life,” says Owen.

Despite this, the cultural and community aspect of tattoos has been long-standing in Halifax . The Maritime Tattoo Festival has been hosted in the city annually for the past six years, with the seventh annual festival scheduled to occur in May.

There are more than a dozen tattoo shops in the area, with a handful of them well-established in the downtown core.

Across North America, there’s also been a shift towards acceptance of tattoos in the media. Shows such as Ink Master and LA Ink that chronicle the lives of tattoo artists have gained popularity with mainstream audiences.

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Owen speaks on social consensus of tattoos
Tattoo artist Matt Owen speaks about social consensus on tattoos.

Owen says tattoos in North America are a fad that have been around for the past 50-100 years, but they’ve existed in other cultures for centuries.

“There’s always going to be tattoos and there’s always been tattoos,” says Owen.