The Ink Link is an ongoing project at CN&CO that showcases tattoos in the workplace, breaking down the stereotype that you can’t be a professional in your field if you have tattoos. If you or anyone you know would like to be featured, please get in contact with us.
The first interview-style Ink Link we have done for this project involves a man who is perhaps better associated with visuals, having been voted Africa’s #1 Instagrammer for the past three years. His ability to convey ideas and concepts in words is no less impressive than his visual abilities, however, as we learned from this blog post. Read on to find out more about Gareth Pon’s take on tattoos. A big thank you to Alexi Portokallis for taking the time to shoot the pictures for this article.
You are obviously a big fan of anything graphic, so talk us through when you first decided to get a tattoo?
Although the idea had been in my mind for a while, I only began two years ago! Since then I have been filling up my right arm with ink based on designs that speak to me. The tattoos run up the entirety of my arm, starting on the back of my hand and ending near my shoulder.
The obvious question that people ask of tattoos: do they symbolise anything to you or are they an expression of the appreciation of art?
A bit of both, I think. All my tattoos have some meaning behind them, ranging from deeply personal reasons to one or two less-than-philosophical symbols.
- The dinosaur on my hand: A reminder of innocence. During my childhood two things that captivated me were space and dinosaurs. Space still captivates me, so it doubles up as a reminder about my grand goal of going to space one day. So the dinosaur in space reminds me of both the past and future. It was designed by Martin Roussouw
- The bear on my forearm: A symbol of bravery and how one needs to remember that in life, bravery is a big factor in succeeding and taking risks. It was designed by Jennet Liaw
- The ice creams on my wrist: I really enjoy ice cream! Also designed by Martin Rossouw
The rest of my tattoos are associated in some shape or form with going to space:
- The rocket on my forearm is my very first logo, it’s a reminder of my dream to go to space and designed by Steve and Telri from Papersnap
- The window on Jupiter, an illustration by a close friend Amber Smith
- The “African” UFO on my bicep, designed by Karabo Moletsane
- The Glove and Moon designed by Nina Torr, is a symbol of the tension between Creator and created
- The astronaut on my tricep was designed by Leigh Petersen, who is also my tattoo artist
What is your take on tattoos in the workplace?
I think that stylistic preferences should never get in the way of professional opinions. In some industries the view of tattoos is still very archaic, but hopefully we live in a modern enough world that these stylistic preferences won’t deter people’s opinions over an individual’s skill that they bring to the workplace. Every tattoo has a story and these stories are ultimately what make people and build characters, adding a visual dynamic to their personality and how they approach work.
Do you recall any incidents in the workplace where people have been reprimanded or discriminated against because of their ink?
Never 🙂 People love them. I did get a bit of shock response when I got my hand tattoo, but that was more of a respectful reaction.