People all over Troy’s campus express themselves through the art of tattoos.
However, this can present complications as students plan their future careers. Many careers, such as those in hospitals, schools, and law firms, traditionally require employees to hide their tattoos.
Daniel Sexton of Lapine got his first tattoo at 17. Sexton, a student veteran and sophomore criminal justice major, served six years as a military policeman.
Sexton works as a lawyer’s legal secretary, and his workplace does not restrict his visible tattoos. When asked if he is ever judged by his tattoos, Sexton said, “Sometimes, because it’s perception. Some people would rather judge me on my looks than on my accomplishments.”
Sexton said that he has been asked if the tattoos covering his arms were gang or prison-related.
Sexton plans to run his own security business one day, but he doesn’t foresee his tattoos causing problems.
Austin Dolbear, a junior computer science major from Rochester, New Hampshire, has a tattoo on each of his forearms. He got the first in 2009 and the second only months ago.
Dolbear is not afraid of any possible consequences stemming from his tattoos at work, because he can wear dress shirts to cover them.
Dolbear cites only one negative reaction since he got them, involving a person whose religious views did not support tattoos.
Jim Davis, an associate professor of English at Troy, has only had his two tattoos for a few years—one being his wife’s initial on his ring finger and the other a geometric figure from his favorite sci-fi movie, “Blade Runner.”
Davis said that the second tattoo is meaningful to him because it “brings all the meaning of the movie into that one image.”
Davis also said that no one has ever “preached” to him about his tattoos, even his religious family.
“I understand that people have objections; I just don’t share them,” Davis said of his tattoos.
When asked if his tattoos have ever effected his career, Davis said, “There are so many things that I cannot do as a professor at this university, but getting a tattoo is not one of them . . . It’s none of their business.”
Ken LaBrant, an associate professor of modern languages, said that students should be patient as they consider getting tattoos; he said he waits 20 years to get a new tattoo he wants.
“Don’t do it hastily,” said LaBrant. “It depends on the career you’re going into and whether it’s going to affect it or not.”
“Earlier in a person’s career it is wiser to have hidden tattoos,” LaBrant said.
Though he has never had backlash or discrimination in the professional world, LaBrant had words of caution for students wishing to get inked.
“Students need to do research and ask people in their perspective fields,” he said.
William Shriver, a sophomore studio art major from Troy, had no doubts about his tattoos affecting his future. In fact, he felt that he could benefit from them.
“Probably not in the art world, but I was thinking about becoming a tattoo artist,” Shriver stated of the possible criticism of his ink.
Some students like the idea of a tattoo but do not want to sacrifice potential professionalism.
Nikki DeRidder, a senior English language arts major from Brewton, has a tattoo on her hip.
DeRidder, who chose the career path of education, recognizes that “tattoos aren’t very popular among the teaching community.”
Students remain tattoo-free for other reasons as well.
Jake Reed, a freshman music education major from Milton, Florida, says that he is not going to let his career dictate whether or not he gets a tattoo. Reed does not have any tattoos, due to “money, mostly.”
Teaching careers restrict tattoos, but Reed has no worries.
“Nothing about my career has stopped me from getting a tattoo,” he said. “I
don’t think it will affect my job market at all.”
Travis Clinkscales, a sophomore computer science major from Vincent, will not be getting tattoos, both for professional reasons and a lack of interest.
“Google, for example, would not condone tattoos,” Clinkscales said. “I am not going to have visible tattoos because I know that if I did, my potential employers would pick someone without tattoos over me, because computer science is such a professional field.”
While concerns abound for the future of those with tattoos after graduation, it has not stopped many students and professors alike from joining the growing number of people expressing themselves through this art form.