Bridey Heing
April 06, 2015 9:09 am

For decades, tattoos have been fighting against a bad rap. Despite being hugely popular — as of 2012, 1 in five adults had at least one — many people still see tats as unprofessional and inappropriate for work. According to one recent poll, 42% of those asked feel all tattoos are always inappropriate at work, while 39% said that employees with body art reflects negatively on employers. Although it’s not the majority of people, it’s still a lot of negative stigma around ink.

When the multi-platform tech company, Mindvalley, heard about these poll results, they decided to fight back by showing that tattoos and professionalism can—and do—co-exist. They organized a photo shoot with their own tatted employees, and the results are incredible.

According to their website, “We decided to celebrate our ‘inked’ employees, the beauty of the art form, and the humility of the stories behind them.”

The stark images do just that, showing off the intricate work their employees have on their arms, legs and backs. The photos are accompanied by notes from the employees explaining the significance of the artwork, which really emphasizes the personal importance of these tattoos, and why people shouldn’t be discriminated against for having them.

“Tattoos are awesome. People are awesome. Photography is awesome,” writes Mindvalley’s Alexey Yanovski, who posted the images to Bored Panda. “And yes,” he adds, “these are actual employees.” Check out some of these amazing tattoos and the stories behind them:

“It’s a Mandala — a symbol of perfection, eternity, unity and completeness. The sun and moon on the Mandala represent creative energy, passion for life and spiritual growth.”

“Abundance — I don’t believe the sky is the limit. Life is abundant, I am abundant and I attract abundance into every area in my life. ‘I am’ – this is from a book I read at a time when I lost my identity and started to create and find myself again. It reminds me to define myself by what I AM, not by what I AM NOT. I am everything that I think I am – love, respect, lucky, success, health, wealth. It’s a reminder to always keep positive thoughts.”

“A circle, again in Borneo design to symbolize part of my heritage. The importance and significance of a circle: union, femininity, the circle of life, what goes around comes around, where you start is where you end, wholeness, totality, original perfection, the self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness.”

“The bolt is pointing to my spine and fills me with its energy. The idea actually came from a David Bowie photo.”

“It’s Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map – it represents the world in proportion and perspective. To me, it is a constant reminder that the way I perceive things, isn’t actually the way things are. Everything, even the way people perceive my tattoo, is warped by perspective.”

You can see the entire series here or here.

(Images via Mindvalley and Bored Panda)