He said his shop once tattooed four generations of women, ages 18 to 88, with a tiny Chinese symbol for mother and daughter on their shoulders. Other popular sites for artwork are ankles, calves and legs, he said.
Far from discreet, Joshua Coburn, a promotions specialist for Montezuma, Iowa-based Brownells Inc., a firearms parts and accessories supplier, sports two-inch gauges in his earlobes and is visibly, heavily tattooed — from ink and three-dimensional implants on the backs of his hands to Polynesian artwork on his neck and three dots on his forehead.
Ironically, the tattoos “took away any Plan B; I couldn't fall back on a retail job for example, and gave me a clear and focused path to my dreams,” Coburn, 32, said.
He co-owned a tattoo parlor for a decade, before he moved into his current job with Brownells two years ago — where he'd previously proven himself as a hardworking part-time worker, advancing from stocker to assembly manager to customer service and, finally, product development and marketing.
Brownells, Coburn said, also recognized that he brings outside marketing experience, having promoted his own business, record label, clothing line and books (The recently released “Inspiration on Demand” is a compilation of affirmations Coburn wrote and posted on social media about overcoming obstacles).
“People never forget me in a business setting and my appearance is always a good ice breaker,” Coburn said. “Others may know more, but they're already paying attention (to me) and I can begin a dialogue, or turn it over to a colleague if I need to.”
A personal style
Bryan Freeman of Bartlesville has worn half-inch, mostly wood, gauges in his ears since he was 18. Today, he's 35, married with three children, and works in finance for ConocoPhillips.
“Initially, it was about annoying people around me, but now I just like the way it looks,” said Freeman, who also sports a shaved head, full beard, stainless steel gauge in his tongue and large tattoo on one calf, which shows when he works out in the company gym. “I like to stand out, show up in a place that's very black and white and be what other people don't expect,” he said.
“Occasionally, I get looks from the old guard, but all it takes is a conversation or interchange, where I carry myself and interact professionally, for them to see that I'm knowledgeable and professional, only I look different.”
Freeman said on Tuesdays he dresses nicely and, with his pinstriped shirts, wears fun, bright ties, including one with rubber ducks on it.
“People at first thought I was going on a job interview,” Freeman said. “But I do it to stand out in a good way, because no one else does, and because it's fun. I call them ‘Tie Tuesdays,' kind of like Taco Tuesdays.”
Meanwhile, Alicia Young — after 15 years in the investment industry — recently took a job as an administrative assistant with an area high school, whose principal hasn't taken issue with her recent sixth, and visible, tattoo on the top and side of her foot. In large script, it reads “Forever Young.”
“I love that I can see it and be reminded of its double meaning — my commitment to my husband, Scott Young, and our shared attitude toward a healthy lifestyle,” Young said.
“It‘s not a symbol of anything bad,” she said, “but represents who I am and what I love.”
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The view on tattoos
People with tattoos say they make them feel more sexy (30 percent), rebellious (25 percent), attractive or strong (21 percent) and spiritual (16). Meanwhile, those without view people with tattoos as less attractive (45 percent), less sexy (39 percent), less intelligent (27 percent) and less spiritual (25 percent). Half say tattooed people are more rebellious.