Sorry for the delay, Prospective Archivist, who posted this question in response to the post “Honest tips for wannabe archivists out there,” (which is one of the more popular ones from the site’s recent “archive”):
So, I know this is a very silly question and it focuses on maybe one of if not the least important statements that you listed, but when you say ‘absent that, drink beer and get a tattoo’ what exactly do you mean / imply?
I ask because I do have a few tattoos, one that is visible if I do not wear sleeves, and I have worried to myself that this career maybe is one that does not generally encourage visible tattoos. Would you say that it is generally okay or even common to have visible tattoos in the career field? I know every institution is different, but like I said just in general.
It is something that has been in the back of the mind for a while. If there is no clear answer, that is okay. I have been looking for someone to ask this for a while and your statement reminded me. Thank you for your response in advance!
I’ll give you my personal response, and then I’ll throw the question about the community, and I particularly encourage comments from our colleagues who do regular interviewing and hiring.
In general, I’d say that today it’s ok. As you point out, every place is different, and maybe more traditionally conservative repositories would be less accepting of them, but honestly, I’d have to say that it might not be wise to generalize even about those. I’m really in no position to judge since I don’t have them, but I get the sense that the culture at large has become more accepting at a faster past then one might have expected. I mean, as long as you don’t have a swastika or something in which the content itself might be objectionable, I think you’re ok.
But, what do you say, archival community? I know there have been sessions at SAA annual meetings about tattoos, and there may even be someone out there with a Hollinger box on their body, but when you’re looking across the table at a someone as a prospective hire or promotion, or just as a colleague, does it make a difference?