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Published:February 23rd, 2008 15:46 EST
Tattoos OK at Work

Tattoos OK at Work

By Hedy Phillips

People with tattoos and piercings are just as likely to be hired in Orlando as people without them.          

Six out of six Orlando employers said they would hire someone who has a tattoo as long as he or she can cover it up.  Octavio Restrepo, a chief engineer of the Holiday Inn Select East Orlando, said, We base our hiring on personality and knowledge.  We won`t discriminate against people with tattoos as long as they can cover them.  Even if they have tattoos on their hands, as long as they wear gloves, it`s OK. "

Restrepo also said that tattoos are no problem for behind-the-scenes employees because they do not interact with customers. 

Executive chef of Winter Park Towers, Jeffrey Hittel, said that his kitchen works the same way as the Holiday Inn.  He said, We work with the elderly, and they tend to judge on appearance, so tattoos have to be covered outside of the kitchen.  Inside the kitchen, it`s not a problem. "

Seven University of Central Florida students who have body art said they had no trouble being hired.  Each said their tattoos and piercings would not affect their careers when they graduate.  Junior history major Eric Vaughn has three tattoos and three piercings, including a pierced lip.  Vaughn wants to teach history at a high school and eventually at a community college.  He said, I will probably have to take out my lip piercing in a high school, but I don`t think it will be a problem at the college level.  I had a professor with an eyebrow piercing. "

That professor is Carl Creasman, who teaches history at Valencia Community College.  Creasman got his eyebrow pierced for the thrill, being alive and feeling it. "  He said his piercing has never prevented him from getting a job.  He added that he wouldn`t remove the ring to get a job.  He said, I`ll probably be buried with this thing. "

Although tattoos seem to be a growing trend, tattoo artist Ross Purvis said many people he tattoos want them coverable.  Purvis, an artist at Orlando`s Exotica tattoo shop, said that most women want tattoos in the typical locations that can be covered.  He said, They all want the lower back, the ankle, the shoulder blade or the foot.  They can easily cover those places for a job, and they often mention that to me before I start. "

Purvis said men are more willing to get a tattoo wherever it will fit.  I don`t know what it is about guys, " he said.  If I draw something for them and it`s bigger than what we thought it would be; they`re like "OK whatever, go ahead.` "

Purvis and the seven UCF students all agree that body art is a fast-growing trend.  Recent UCF graduate, Lisa Atkins, said, There`s not such the stigma that there used to be " that people with tattoos are sailors, or dirty or low class. " 

Still, Purvis said he will limit who he will tattoo and where.  He said, I won`t do big tattoos on people who aren`t in the [tattoo] industry. "  He clarifies that the tattoo industry includes anyone who does tattoos or pierces people.  He continued: I won`t tattoo somebody`s hand if I don`t think they can handle it five years from now.  Hands are a big deal because they`re out there all the time.  I don`t even have my hands done yet, and I`m a tattoo artist. "

Stephen Komives, design editor for news at the Orlando Sentinel, wishes he had the guts to get a tattoo because the Sentinel doesn`t seem to object, as long as they`re covered. 

Other students have not let their body art affect the jobs they have now and will have in the future.  Elementary education major Daina Hardee said: I work at Universal in the entertainment department, and they have no policy for tattoos.  I haven`t been told to cover any of my five tattoos. "  Hardee also had an internship with an Orlando elementary school and did have to cover her tattoos.  She said, I know they`re frowned upon in a school environment, but I don`t see anything wrong with them.  I can cover them for school, but since they aren`t offensive, I don`t think it should be a big deal. "

Purvis also used to work at Universal Studios Resort during Halloween Horror Nights.  Purvis said, For HHN, Universal wants to have people covered in tattoos and piercings because they fit the atmosphere.  The creepier the better! "     

As for body piercings, employers such as Walt Disney World and The Law Offices of Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr., PLC have strict guidelines.  According to The Disney Look Book, " a book given to newly hired cast members, men are not allowed to have piercings and women may only wear one pair of earrings on the bottom of the earlobe.  Employees of Aubrey Harry Ducker Jr. can only wear two earrings in each ear.

Mary Greene, a sophomore majoring in art education, has her nose pierced.  She works in guest service at Target and is not required to take out her piercing or cover it.  Greene said: My piercing is so small and it`s probably not the first thing people notice about me.  I wouldn`t take it out for a job because it isn`t a distraction. "

Vaughn has to take his lip piercing out when he works at a Krispy Kreme Donut shop.  He said management doesn`t allow visible piercings but he can wear a retainer in his lip.  A retainer is an invisible ring or post to put in a piercing to prevent it from closing, Vaughn explained.

UCF students face other problems when getting tattoos and piercings, such as infection.  Whitney Dennis, a freshman education major, had a tattoo on her foot get infected.  She said, The doctors thought it was either a [staphylococcus] infection or an allergic reaction to the purple ink. "  Dennis added that she almost had to have her foot amputated. 

Each of the seven UCF students agreed that they love all of their body art and would never get any tattoos removed.  Vaughn said, My tattoos are meaningful and will be with me forever. "  Junior exceptional education major Rebecca Siff agreed and simply said, I love them. "