The Ink Link is an ongoing project at CN&CO that showcases tattoos in the workplace. One of the great things about a tattoo is it goes against the commonly-held viewpoint that “what you see is what you get”. There’s a misguided belief in certain quarters that in order to be a working professional, it is categorically impossible to have a tattoo… because how can someone with a tattoo be a professional? We are putting paid to that perception through the stories showcased in the Ink Link. If you or anyone you know would like to be featured, please get in contact with us.

Clive Le Pere, operations specialist for CN&CO partner EasyEquities and GT247.com, had his first tattoo done when he was at varsity.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing and I did it because I thought it was cool,” he says. “All my friends were getting ink, and I thought it was the thing to do.

“I went into some tattoo place – I can’t even remember where it was – and had one of my favourite psalms, Psalm 27, inked onto my chest.”

BUT…

“… the tattoo artist left one of the words out. So instead of saying ‘The Lord is the strength of my life”, it said ‘The Lord is strength of my life’.”

Clive lived with the wrongly-worded psalm for a few months before getting it covered.

“So my second tattoo is actually a cover-up of my first one,” he says. “The tattoo artist was able to create an image that hid the entire psalm so you can’t actually see that there was anything there before.

“The image is of a Roman bust, something like Julius Caesar. It isn’t really symbolic of anything, but it reminds me to think carefully before making any big decisions. Not everything can be covered up as easily as a botched tattoo!”

With the psalm gone, Clive’s next tattoo once again paid homage to his religion.

“I saw a picture of the Virgin Mary with a clock that I really liked and thought it would look great as a tattoo,” he says. “I learnt my lesson the first time and wasn’t going to make any rash tattoo decisions again! So I thought about it for six months before doing it,” he laughs. “The original Virgin Mary design also had a dove in it, which I didn’t incorporate into my tattoo – although I would like to add it at some stage.”

His fourth tattoo, which is probably the most significant one, is a portrait of his late mother, Nicolette.

“I lost my mom on the 21st of November 2014,” he says. “I had the tattoo done about two years afterwards. Obviously it’s very meaningful and so I didn’t want to rush into it. I always wanted to honour my mom in some way after she died and the tattoo is a great symbol of my love for her.”

Clive’s favourite tattoo parlours in Johannesburg are 1933 in Braamfontein and Fallen Heroes in Parkhurst.

“You have to look at the work of the tattoo artists in relation to the tattoo that you want to have done,” he explains. “Not everyone is skilled in everything. You need the best person for the job at hand.”

So what’s next? 

“I would like to get a tribal design on my calf,” he says. “No specific reason, other than I think it would look nice.”

On tattoos in the workplace, Clive says he’s never had any problems.

“Obviously here at Purple Group everyone is very relaxed about tattoos,” he says. “Some of my colleagues here have some really amazing ink. And even when I worked in big corporates, it was never a problem. I think attitudes have changed a lot in a generation. Tattoos are now seen as a sign of creativity rather than rebellion. I can’t wait for my next one!”