Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Business Link To Ink

By Laura Steven

“When my Grandpa was rushed to hospital after suffering from a major heart attack, the skilled surgeon that came to his rescue happened to have a Latin quote inscribed on his forearm. It said: “Ready for anything”. Perhaps this was a careless, spur of the moment tattoo that he regretted. Or perhaps, it meant a great deal to him and guided him through his life when he found himself struggling, in need of inspiration. Either way, the fact that he had a tattoo did not make me doubt his surgical skills, it did not cause me to think any less of him, and it most certainly did not make me any less grateful to him for saving my grandfather’s life.”

Logically, we all acknowledge that ink under the surface of a person’s skin bears no relevance to their capabilities or intelligence in their profession. Granted, you may not want an attorney with a Mike Tyson-esque facial tattoo to represent you in front of a jury, but body modification is of course largely irrelevant to job competency.

Nowadays, burly bikers with sleeves of ink and convicted criminals with distinctive gang stamps now make up only a small percentage of the tattooed population, as nearly 40% of those aged 18-40 have taken the plunge and adorned themselves with permanent designs in a bid for self-expression. So why, then, are they still met with such disdain from the corporate world?
Many organisations oppose this view in the name of professionalism and company image. A recent study showed that 42% of managers admitted their opinion of a candidate would be lowered by visible body art. The application form for Northumbria Police forbids any tattoos that would “discredit the police service”, ruling out those which could be considered “rude, lewd, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic, violent or intimidating”. Sarah Hutton, a 21-year-old university graduate qualified in Forensic Science, was recently rejected from the police force on the basis of her visible ink, despite not meeting any of the aforementioned criteria.

“My three tattoos consist of a rose on my foot, a star on my neck and butterflies on my wrist, none of which could be classed as even remotely offensive. Nevertheless, my application to join Northumbria Police in January was rejected as a result.

“I feel sexually discriminated against, as my male, equally qualified counterpart who also has visible tattoos, had his application shortlisted. As everybody knows, women are already paid, on average, less than a man doing exactly the same job. The last thing we need is another backwards step in the women’s rights movement in the form of sexist implication of regulations.”

A common misconception by many people is in the belief that if they feel discriminated against, for any reason, by default they should be able to successfully sue the perpetrator. On the contrary, private employers are legally able to dictate dress codes, thus most appearance-based court cases tend to fall on their side.

While employers have the right to exclude voluntary body modification providing they consider ethnic and religious beliefs, if their policies are not universally applied to both genders, they are treading a risky path. For example, if a female is asked to disguise a tattoo on their wrist, but a male is allowed to freely display his in the same office, they firm could potentially have a lawsuit on their hands.

Regardless, ladies with tattoos are not the social taboo they once were. Women are no longer passive housewives, whose sole purposes are to clean, cook and look after their children as their alpha male husband plays the part of the breadwinner. They have a growing ability to rebuke the former social standards in terms of careers, maternal instincts and sexuality, including doing whatever they please with their bodies. Not to become more like men, but to use a readily available means to explore their right to freedom of expression.

Another major contributing factor to the surge in females with tattoos is the prevalence of the trend in celebrity culture. Some of the world’s most attractive women like Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox are heavily illustrated, and a lot of impressionable young teenagers who aspire to be equally successful may emulate their actions. Ironically, tattoos have effectively gone from symbols of those operating outside of the social centre, who rejected conformity as the worst possible scenario, to little more than fashion accessories in today’s society.
Though continuously an object of controversy and contempt, body art is no longer solely indicative of counterculture. Throughout the ages, they have been representative of many different social groups, from the circus freak of the late nineteenth century, to the mark of a marine or sailor during both World Wars. Nowadays, the connotations have shifted, though those brought up in older, more disdainful generations remain unconvinced.

May Paxton, a 71-year-old pensioner, said: “Tattoos are disgusting. They scream bad judgment and immaturity, and when I encounter otherwise presentable workers who have them on show, my opinion of them is instantly tarnished and I consider them uneducated and reckless. Even more so when I see a beautiful young girl with a huge flower emblazoned across their wrist. They’ve ruined their bodies.”

Historically, there has nearly always been a social stigma attached to women bearing tattoos, who were marked as trashy or deviant. Contrastingly, the rebellious flapper era saw females slash their long locks of hair, puff on cigarettes and embellish their bodies with body art, and for a brief time they became synonymous with high-class ladies as opposed to the dregs of society. The reputation of which has since peaked and plummeted until the negative implications have eventually melted into the mainstream of social acceptance.

And yet, recent studies show that more women than men seek tattoo removal as a result of social fallout, as opposed to simply changing their minds. According to a survey by the Archives of Dermatology, more than 40% of females endured negative comments in the workplace, compared to just 5% of males. Hutton wholeheartedly agrees.

“I think discrimination based on appearance instead of important qualities such as intelligence or integrity is completely unjust. There is so much I could have offered in terms of serving our community. I am hard-working, dedicated and highly qualified, yet the police and ultimately society, failed to see past my tattoos. I think that’s incredibly sad.”

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Team Evil's Cassette Tape Magazine

Cassette Tape Magazine is described by its creators Team Evil, as a "monstrously impractical publishing venture". If the name doesn't explain the concept clearly enough for you, it is a magazine inside a cassette tape box, hope that clears up the confusion there. I got my copy the other day, and its fantastic, if not disappointingly short, who am I to question such items of greatness though. There's ten articles in total, my favourite being number 04, a teaser for Team Evil #5, where they "explain every major war of the 20th Century in abridged form. While drunk." Can't wait for the full article.

All the pieces come from the Team's website which is regularly updated by the founder Mikolai Napieralski. I recently interviewed the chap on why he thought printed magazines were still being published, and his answers were great. He summed it up saying this, "It all comes back to having a physical, tangible product in your hands. Technically, I could store every book, album, videogame in my house on one laptop, but that would make for a pretty depressing house. Tangible products add character to our world in way that computers can’t, that’s why we keep buying them… at least those of us old enough to remember having them around."

Get your hands on one of these, I don't think they'll be available for purchase much longer.


Welcome to It’s going to bring you a whole variety of art, design, photography, articles on subjects from cricket to current world affairs to our favourite cocktails. We’ll tell you our favourite places to go, our new favourite albums and the best magazines and books out there.

Located in the North East of England at the minute, you might find a lot of our content is based around this area, but we’re trying our best to branch out! Anyone can get involved in any way they want, just drop an email to and we’ll get back to you as quick as we can. We’ll feature pretty much anything thats the slightest bit interesting.

Lots of people have already put their names forward to get involved. James “Wedge” Allan will be writing down his thoughts and showing us some cool shit he finds, Graham Harris will be giving us a more experienced view on life and possibly a peek through the keyhole into that great friend of ours the USA, we’ll have some photography from Charlotte Summers and Daniel Lee Cox, who’s music will also more than likely be featured here at some point. Laura Steven will provide some fine journalism, and Jack Webster will be bringing us his views on the world of sport. This is just a start, we’ve got much more in the pipeline. 

We’re a mere blog at this moment in time, but we’ve got big plans. The big idea is to eventually move on and produce a printed and published magazine, The Trip. We’re currently trying to find help to develop our own site, its proving difficult but we’re getting there.  We’ve got a long way to go, but as Robert J. Hastings said “Sooner or later we must realise there is no station, no one place we must arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip.”