For some, opting for an above-the-shoulder tattoo signals a rejection of the recession rat race.
Christian Carden’s tattoos stretch from clavicle to throat, around his ears and up onto his head. He has a lotus flower printed on one side of his neck and a Japanese mask on the other; both stretch over his shoulders in a bed of waves, smoke, and fire. “I knew that people consider neck, face, and hand tattoos ‘job killers,’ and that's why I wanted them,” Carden says. “I never want to work at a bank again, and now I don’t have to worry about it.”
In a sputtering economy, highly visible tattoos like Carden's neck-and-head spread can mean the difference between a stint at the bank counter and a spot in the unemployment line. But in recent years, tattoo sales have failed to stall with the rest of the market. In many cities, they're actually thriving. And for some, opting for an above-the-shoulder tattoo signals a rejection of the recession rat race.
In fact, when Carden ditched the professional world and began apprenticing at a tattoo shop, his mentor encouraged him to cover his “smaller original tattoos" with the "better bigger images" that grace his neck today. As a tattoo artist, “you have to make a good impression," Carden says, and “the small poorly done pieces I had weren't cutting it.”
That's partly because tattoo artists are no longer the only ones inking above the collar. Phil Davidson is a 29-year-old software sales consultant who has a custom-drawn skull and rose etched onto his neck. The whole thing measures about the size of a handprint. “My appearance is definitely out of the ordinary for the corporate world, but by the time I moved onto public skin, I'd already got a few years of good experience behind me," Davidson says. Now, "it's more about who I am and what I can do, rather than what I look like."