big tattoos = no job?


I'm finishing my second to last year of undergrad with the intent (and hope) of getting into a M.arch program and becoming an architect. the sticking point is that I would like to get a sleeve tattoo for my graduation, but I'm not sure if architecture is ... shall I say artsy enough for a most times covered but big tattoo to fly. 

(or allow me to get hired.)

nothing racy or inappropriate, it would be roses and a crow in black ink. (I did BFA for undergrad tasteless is not in my vocabulary. loud yes. tasteless no.)

TLDR - big but tasteful sleeve tattoo, mostly covered by long sleeves. hired or fired? 

something similar - 

pintrest find, no idea
May 4, 18 3:28 pm

2 Featured Comments

All 43 Comments


I know plenty of architects & engineers with sleeve tattoos.  I have a feeling though it may be more of a regional thing.  

May 4, 18 3:44 pm

seems like a big risk to me. 

Wouldn't get you fired, but won't help get you hired

but then I have always worked in pretty stogy places

May 4, 18 3:45 pm

It depends on the firm.  If it's visible then yes it will be a problem for some.  In one conservative old firm that I worked in, the Principal in that branch wouldn't hire anybody with any visible tattoos, no matter how small.  He had a lot of other rules/hangups besides tattoos. 

In some - maybe most - other firms it won't matter.  But before deciding that you'd never, ever work in a really conservative firm anyway, just also consider that architecture is notorious for cyclical downturns, so there are likely to come some times in your working life when, if you want to keep working in architecture firms rather than temporarily or permanently switch fields, you may have to take jobs you wouldn't choose during better times.

Also as a woman in architecture I'd question whether it will always be practical to keep that covered in professional settings.  Sometimes I have to attend work-related semi-formal events, dinners, etc., and wouldn't ordinarily choose long sleeves in summer, though I guess that's not impossible.  Again it would depend on the type of firm, projects that they do, and your role there whether those types of events would be an issue.  Just consider flexibility for future career/role/setting changes.

May 4, 18 3:49 pm
Wood Guy

It would move you to the front of the line in my book. But I'm not a big firm kind of guy. And I have tattoos. 

May 4, 18 3:49 pm

It's definitely a generational thing.  Small one probably OK, but I would say generally to stay away.  This fad will go the way of all fads, and then you'll have the problem of getting rid of it.  Somebody is going to make a fortune removing those things in a few years.  Hmmm, come to think of it, that might be a possibility for these "what else can I do?" postings.

May 4, 18 3:51 pm

Exactly. But there's always Turlington's Tattoo Remover from SNL. (Watch for comparison of the same tat @ age 20 then 65. Brrrrrrrrr.)

Le Courvoisier

I mean, you're putting a crow so just say it's a tribute to Corbu. 

May 4, 18 3:59 pm
Non Sequitur

Visible ink has been discussed in my office in a negative way only by the name partner, who is now approaching 70.  The remaining management folks don't seem to care but there is always that "will you be exposed to clients" part.  Depends on how conservative the client and partners are.

May 4, 18 4:09 pm

I would just cover it up for formal meetings and interviews, and on days where there are no meetings, clients or principals coming in you are probably ok if some tattoos are visible. 

May 4, 18 4:51 pm

You need to read Adolf Loos "Ornament and Crime". Buildings with ornaments on them are indistinguishable from low level criminals who have tats. 

Is that how you want to be remembered Howard Roark? 

May 4, 18 5:12 pm

I have two forearms full of branding. I wear short sleeves most days, including in meetings with clients. I recognize that it may not be to everyone's taste, but not everybody else's style is to my own. 

If you want it and you're ready, go for it.  You can always wear long sleeves. Not the end of the world!

May 4, 18 5:28 pm

Somehow it seems a woman would get away with this better than a man. I would still here you.

May 4, 18 6:01 pm

portland would be unimpressed if you had no tats

May 4, 18 6:17 pm
Derek Askari duPont

good to hear.


Could you just do a 3/4 sleeve then wear more business-professional attire at work? 

That has been my approach, and I've not had problems. By the time you are at the spa getting beat with birch branches with a client, you are past that.

May 4, 18 9:38 pm

I would advise against it. A lot of owners frown upon tats in my opinion. Especially the principals I work with. I don’t have any tats personally but don’t have issues with people that do. However I feel that  certain people still have stigmas on them. Just be wise on locations and being able to wear clothing to conceal them. 

May 4, 18 9:44 pm

If you can't be yourself at a firm, maybe it's the wrong firm to be applying to in the first place. Go to interviews with your tattoos showing and see how it goes...

May 5, 18 2:50 am

Maybe a better approach (one that I used) was to conceal everything for the first 6 months while I worked my ass off. Then once I wore short sleeves, nobody cared because I had been doing a good job. I haven't looked back


^^Sounds good in theory but you may be stuck in a firm that isn't "approopriate" for you when the market is shitty.


That's true, regardless of tattoos.


On th bright side- when you get fired/layed-off, you can immediately find a jib at Trader Joe’s ;)

May 5, 18 12:17 pm
I think the bigger question is are you sure you will still want this tattoo in 10 years? Still regret mine...

To answer your question, I don’t think people care about that too much anymore. A few guys at my firm have them and show them on casual days. We used to have a policy against beards too, that’s done also. If you are well groomed and/or attractive you can get away with pretty much anything.
May 11, 18 12:59 am

I have lots of tattoos all over my body.  But everyone of them are cover-able for a professional world.  None of my clients would have any idea that I have a full sleeve on  my right arm, or a piece that runs from my toes up to my thigh.  I keep them covered at work.

May 11, 18 10:52 am

It's like hiding under a burqa to not entice sexual advances of people with eyes.


Ya kinda, I live in a conservative area. I also have the catholic school board as a client.


An informal poll tells me that 8 out of my 19 fellow employees have tattoos. This is just from what I've seen in casual observation - there may be more that I don't know about.  Like I said, I have very visible branding that I don't hide unless I'm in a meeting with a new client.  I have stretched earlobes (over 1" at one point). 

Just FYI. 

May 11, 18 12:06 pm
Non Sequitur

No face tats? how pedestrian.


I know a 60 year old architect in NYC with 100% of his face tattooed.


FYI most generation Z and Y have tattoos. Most employers won't give a shit if it's in a common area such as your sleeve.

Maybe some old people won't like it but they'll be gone soon.

May 11, 18 12:18 pm

Clearly it's not most people, but your point stands.


Man I always thought it would be cool to have a sleeve comprised of drawings of completed proejcts. A tat-foilo. Roll up sleeve point to project.... :like this one?" 

But..... once you complete some projects you realize the luster and allure of the design is gone some. And i would imagine needing a lot of thin line work which doesn't hold up so well in tattoos. I can imagine some detail drawings being used to create fun tats. I don't think anyone at my mid size west coast firm of about 50 people would have a problem with tattoos. Could even be an asset to help exhibit your creative personality. 

May 11, 18 1:11 pm

Sweet!  Parapet flashing detail on calf... "see how the sheet metal drip bends with my veins?"

May 11, 18 1:22 pm
Non Sequitur

I actually find that idea pretty interesting. Mundane typical detail prominently displayed? what's not to love?


i could just see getting something like a tyvek detail tatooed on, then in a few years you switch to fluid applied and noone knows what your detail is anymore.


depending on the detail, maybe you'll have to redline your tattoo in a couple years - X it out and big red letters write "insulation goes on the outside"


Please cloud and delta all revisions.


Where are the labels and leaders?

(That's an awesome shot.  Plus, I originally typed "column enclosure" before changing it to parapet.  Good work, Miles!)


What happens if you tattoo a cheat sheet on yourself and bring it into the ARE testing room? Lol

May 11, 18 5:53 pm

"Please leave the disqualifying limb in your locker during testing."


Wait, it's on the 5th limb that only males have.


Pics or it didnt happen.

May 11, 18 5:59 pm
Featured Comment


May 11, 18 7:23 pm

If I was to have a tat, a passing thought might be if I was going to have it on the butt cheeks, it might have a frank gehry face on one and the other cheek, the flipping the bird. 

Then I would do the Howard Stern's Fartman-inspired exposed butt cheek deal !!!! Especially if I were to apply for a job at Gehry Partners, LLP or some total douche bag cunt-canoe (you know.... the Trump and other sleezy types). Make it look good and sharp on the front coming in so it doesn't throw off suspicion and look nice and slick but when done and ready to leave after a jolly ol' time with the douche-tards.... and as I turn around to head out from the job interview.... expose my departing message. 

That's how you make use of that ass !!!!

May 12, 18 1:51 am
I have a tattoo sleeve that stops at my wrist. Just wear a long sleeve shirt during the interview like a normal human being would and you'll be fine. It depends on the office culture for normal wear, but the offices I've worked at don't seem to mind if I wear short sleeves on occasion.
May 12, 18 3:02 am


May 13, 18 4:46 am

I could never grasp on why people want to permanently damage their skin with tattoos or think they are pretty. Most people would never commit to having the same art pieces on their walls for the rest of their life, but think that in 10-20 years they will still love what they tattooed on themselves? Isn't that assuming one's believes and likings will never change and isn't that a stagnation towards self improvement? I canot help but think all tattoos and piercing  are a cry for attention and in some way lack of confidence. Also, if one have to cover themselves in certain ocasions, isn't that admitting that in some way those tattoos are shamful and you cannot stand by what you believe is beautiful. If you have it, own it. 

May 13, 18 6:30 pm
Non Sequitur

Are you done yelling at those damn kids to get off your lawn grandpa?

@BayG the only shameful thing is that certain people (like yourself) try force their own political/religious/morals opinions on others. If you don't understand why someone would want to "damage their skin"... mind your own business, and don't worry about it. You're really just showcasing your ignorance.
May 14, 18 3:01 am

So you can express your views, but all that do not agree with them cannot? Not forcing anything more than anybody else that posted here. Answering somebody's question and maybe if you read it without so much hate, you will see that there is not forcing anything - "if you have, own it" means don't hide it.


Put another way, do you know what the difference is between those with tattoos and those without?

Those with tattoos don't give a fuck because they understand that somebody else's decision to decorate their own body doesn't hurt them. 

Over the long history of human civilization, those without body modification are the exception, not the rule. Each and every culture modifies their bodies to some extent. 


You protest too much. Not everyone with tats is an "I don't give a fuck, I'm that awesome" pioneer. Some do it because of alcohol, or, god forbid, trendiness. And if all the tattooed were such iconoclast heroes, the tat-removal industry wouldn't be bigger than tattooing itself.

So, be proud of your tattoos, branding, butt plug, whatever. Good for you. But don't throw yourself a parade. (And, yes, if hair cutting, shaving, make-up, and earrings are counted, body modification has been booming.)


I worked in the tattoo industry for 10 years, pioneering many body modification techniques. I actually do know what I'm talking about.


As for the removal industry being bigger than the tattoo industry, that's very obviously false. The metric they tend to use is dollars. Removal is much, much more expensive than the original tattoo.


And lastly for you, why do you care about somebody else's motivations? What does that have to do with you? And why do you care? If it makes you happy and doesn't hurt anybody, then I say go for it.


Agreed, and I don't care. Go for it, yes. I was responding to 1) the silly pile-on against someone who dared have a contrary opinion. (But then, this is the web, after all.) And 2) the lionizing as heroic anyone who staggers into a tattoo parlor after too many beers and Schnapps.


bowling_balls, Why exactly do people have tattoos and other body modifications? You know what you are talking, you should be able to write a thesis with primary and secondary sources with citation. You know.... masters or doctoral level academic research. I'm tired of cheap, low grade, say nothing, bullshit arguments.


^ Since when?


You know the kind of bullshit where people say, "it's because..." but say nothing after the "because" or arguments like "Those with tattoos don't give a fuck because they understand that somebody else's decision to decorate their own body doesn't hurt them" and that of austin_tayshus... "Some do it because of alcohol, or, god forbid, trendiness" and then there is bowling_balls "I worked in the tattoo industry for 10 years, pioneering many body modification techniques. I actually do know what I'm talking about." Okay, what the fuck is that chest pounding b.s about? What primary source and secondary source other than petting a needle in someone? What's the argument for? What's the point of the banter? Is there even any real research on this with real primary sources testifying to why they tattooed themselves? Why is it left with nothing to judge upon each side's arguments? It's just cock fighting over meaningless bullshit.


Any hoot, it doesn't really fucking matter to me that much whether you have tattoos or not. However, I do believe there is some cultural connotations that is pervasive and significantly ingrained in our culture. In some cases, people associate tattoos with criminals. At one point in time not that long ago it was illegal in some places.


What's my research? Oh, I don't know. Maybe being an industry leader for an entire decade. WTF are you talking about? I'm not going to apologize for not cutting and pasting Wikipedia articles like you do, Rick.


I'm not so sure if you were an industry leader for a decade. Nation wide? Global wide? I would think you'd be in that field still as a industry leader. You'd be on this list. ( ) Any every occupation including architecture, fame does not exempt you from a) research, b) backing it with primary sources other than yourself as well as secondary research sources. (I'm not talking Wikipedia as the only source for secondary research but other actual research. How about research interviews of people who were tattooed and why they pursued it as well as those who didn't. How about a full professional research. I usually use Wikipedia for forum post because the first hand (higher quality secondary sources are usually about 50-150 or more pages each so I choose to post sources that are maybe a couple printed pages in length. Wikipedia entries tends to be more easier to process on a web forum. If I slammed you with those sources, you wouldn't even A) look for them, and B) read it. Wikipedia is usually more convenient. Real research tends to not use online websites for sources. They may use PDF versions of books, articles, and other sources but also printed books. Some of which, you would have to purchase to read. I use sources such as Wikipedia or third-tier or later tier sources like Wikipedia for online discussions because you can look to them without necessarily having to go through a paywall. The pace of web forum discussion is usually just a little bit slower than instant messaging chat / IRC / etc. Discussions don't tend to operate at a post a week or two. If you like, I'll slam you with those kinds of sources but you'll have to be willing to read through about 5,000+ pages of text a week besides my own post. Most Wikipedia articles have reference to actual sources. They have these things called "References" that references real sources. For example, are you Don Ed Hardy? Vyvyn Lazonga? or anyone else on that list. If you were that level, I would think you would have been on the list and probably make more money in tattooing business than you would being an architect. Even in the Architecture community, Frank Lloyd Wright would have to back his own arguments about things with research other than mere subjective opinion. Sure, a design style of one's own can only be self-expressed without external research but you can nonetheless and would be expected to back certain things with authoritative data that is supported by third-party. Academic professional research standards is about defending your thesis (argument) with third party not just your own self. No matter who you are. Like no one is above the law. You are not above the "laws of research". You can only speak authoritative without third-party about your personal experiences and subjective opinion but be forewarned that your opinion as one person does not outweigh the collective facts and collective opinion of the masses grounded in objective facts. This is why research is there to back third-party sources to accredit your argument.


I'm not going to dignify any of your nonsense with an answer. I'll only say that your very first assumption, that I was a tattoo artist, is incorrect. Therefore your entire argument falls apart, you fucking moron. BTW I didn't read any of your verbal diarrhea because I don't give a fuck about anything you have to say. Literally nothing. How's that for scientific rigor?


The topic on this thread is about tattoos. It is only reasonable for a rational person to interpret "I worked in the tattoo industry for 10 years, pioneering many body modification techniques. I actually do know what I'm talking about" and so forth. Alright, maybe, it is more than just tattooing but even those on the list were doing a variety of body modification such as piercing. In any case, so what. As for scientific rigor, you never backed shit. It's far easier and far more pathetic that you can't defend yourself with any research. So for research science point of view, you get an F. You get an LAUSD high school grade of F and U and U in case you missed the first time. The good old fashion FUCK YOU would have been a simpler response. So FUCK YOU !!!!

RickB-Astoria's comment has been hidden

Ok, I know someone will delete the above post sooner or later and make you look delusional and weird. BTW: I'm not against people having tattoos. If they want, it is a personal choice in life in my personal opinion. If a person doesn't.... same thing. personal choice.

PS:  Fuck Ya, anyway!  It's just a circle fuck anyway. Enjoy !!!!

NSFW below:

Possible Tattoo on someone's ass.


If you put that on your forehead, you are DEFINITELY never getting hired anywhere !!!!

On the fence

When the tattoo is visable, I think your chances go down.  How much?  Unknown, depends on the firm I suppose but they wont tell you this.  It just is. 

You make decisions, you live with them.  We all do.

May 14, 18 3:59 pm

This is my old friend Nick, an architect who may now be retired (haven't spoken to him in a few years) and enjoying the many millions of dollars he made buying and renovating brownstones in Harlem, NY. 

He is also gay, which much like his tattoos, apparently offends some people.

May 14, 18 5:48 pm
Non Sequitur

I don't mind the face tats... I do draw the line at the stretched nostrils...

I work at a corporate office with about 90 people. At least a quarter have tattoos. Most are not that large and visible, but there are exceptions with a couple people having large numbers of visible tattoos.

On the flip side, I know architects who might not hire you based on this, some people just are not ok with it, but most of those people are not worth working for.
May 14, 18 7:12 pm
How many people on here don't have a tattoo.... and wear khakis/cargo pants? And wear a phone holster on their belt? And have more hair on the back of their head than the front? And drive a Pt cruiser? And work on projects in only AutoCAD?
May 15, 18 2:48 am
Non Sequitur

Not many M&E p.engs here.


Well, you always can hide such tattoo with long sleeves. You may loose opportunity to get hired by conservative firm or close to government or other with strict dress code. But, do you want to be a part of a such firm?

May 15, 18 6:56 am
@Non Sequitur haha touché
May 15, 18 10:40 am

I have a bunch of tattoos.  Kinda wish I didn’t have so many...gets annoying looking at same pics everyday... Usually Wear long sleeves until I get to know the clients. I got them all when I was 17-20 and fortunately they are not bad looking...just a bunch of plants, flowers....which is fitting as a landscape designer...most of my friends are covered with neck and hand tattoos and all...some clients and firms judge for whatever dumb reasons...but whatever...I also have vitiligo on my hands and neck and have had some idiots make comments...not sure why people are so obsessed over other people’s skin.  Makes no sense.  

May 15, 18 12:29 pm

Most people are just overgrown 1st graders. They don't know any better.

Featured Comment

As a person who does a lot of interviewing/hiring, I am less likely to consider a person for a position when there are spelling mistakes, a picture of themselves on their CV and graphic design layout errors in their portfolio versus having tattoos. 

We are creatives and it is your choice on how you want to express your creativity. 

May 28, 18 10:39 pm



Awesome! We love tattoos!

Oct 7, 18 11:35 am

Ornament is Crime! Only criminals has tattoos.

Oct 8, 18 9:19 pm
Derek Askari duPont

are you really sure?


Hi, bragging. I draw my sketches for a tattoo on an ordinary tablet and everything works out perfectly. Here is one of my works that he painted himself and then I did it to myself

in process 

Jan 22, 19 12:09 pm

Its a non issue as far as I'm concerned, I have piercing whllatt I'm planning to also get tattoos in non visible locations aka not my face.

Jan 23, 19 3:17 am

as a female architect with tons of visible tattoos, a half-sleeve is no big deal, and completely normal in the industry by this point. I have never had trouble getting a job, most employers think it makes me cool and edgy, and they want to project that into the world... i have even worn short sleeves to a corporate -ish job interview and gotten the job. I'm also of the opinion that i wouldn't want anyone who wouldn't have me because of something as shallow as tattoos. 

The one thing is the clients, unfortunately - most institutional clients at least, tend to be more conservative, and it might affect whether your employer wants to put you in front of them or not - to this I would say, go the extra mile to dress well at work and prove that you can appear polished and professional (this is maybe just good advice for everybody) and it shouldn't be a problem. But i also live in Canada: where my partner works at a bank and gets given a hard time for not showing off his tattoos MORE. also, you're only getting a sleeve, no one will batt an eye.

Jan 24, 19 9:39 pm

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