Think before you ink

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COLUMBIA - Tattoos have been an ancient form of art and expression for more than 5,000 years, but recent statistics show a rise in tattoo popularity. 

A 2010 Pew Research Poll found 23 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. That is more than 73 million people, and experts project those numbers are still rising. 

Owner of Iron Tiger Tattoo and Tattoo You, Gabe Garcia, said tattoos have increased in popularity with the addition of television and the internet. 

But, Garcia said, "It is important for the receipent to use a lot of discretion before they decide to get inked up."

A tattoo stencil

Jennifer Riedy, the Director of Public Interest Programs at the MU school of Law, said while she would never tell someone whether or not to get a tattoo, she would advise them to consider the potential consequences. 

Riedy said, "Any time someone decided to get a tattoo in a visible area, they run the risk of a potential employer thinking twice about them."

She advises people to try and put their best appearance forward for future employers. Riedy said, "Don't give them a reason not to hire you."

A half finished tattoo

Garcia said, "If you are going to get a tattooed on your hands, neck or face you should know exactly who you are, where you are going in life and that you will have a stable career in doing something that's not going to bother, offend or scare people."

"You should think of a tattoo as a major life commitment," Garcia said. "Getting a tattoo means you have chosen to wear something permanently on your body. Most people wouldn't choose to wear the same shirt and shoes for the rest of their life, and getting a tattoo is in the same ballpark."

Finished tattoo

Garcia said, "There are definitely careers that are more tattoo-tolerant. Artsy fields tend to be more accepting of visible tattoos while careers in law, politics, business and journalism still restrict their employees."

Both Riedy and Garcia agreed discretion is the most important thing when deciding whether to get a tattoo, encouraging people to think before they ink.