Can Models Have Tattoos?

  • Freya Hill

That’s like asking, “Can models have a baldhead or tinted eyebrows?” And your answer is this; models with tattoos will be loved by some brands and turned down by others. If your arms, legs, hips, neck or hands have been inked permanently, you are opening yourself up to refusal and acceptance. It really depends on who will be employing you and what you are being asked to model.


The decisions that affect whether you’re offered work as a tattooed model rely on three main factors.

  1. Who will be employing you? If your aim is to do catalogue work for politically correct organisations, well-respected brands such as Mother Care and Cath Kidston or businesses that are not so well-known but still have an angelic, softly softly approach to their work, the chances of them looking for the next Miami Inked model are slim. The same can be applied to companies who believe in all things natural; they won’t want a model that’s covered in tattoos. To put it blatantly, your choice of skin adornment will insult their business ethos. However, if you dream of modelling for quirky and conceptual companies that sell themselves on their free-willed, strong-minded characteristics, your tattoos will probably do your modelling career a favour. Check out All Saints and Urban Outfitters, both are more than happy to use tattooed men and women to model their clothes. It’s all about understanding your target employer’s needs.
  2. What will you be modelling? Girls, if you’re trying to gain work modelling pretty ladylike products you won’t be chosen if your skin’s got a coating of ink. Men, if you’re at a casting for a slick business suit brand and you’ve got tattoos but the man next to you hasn’t, they’re more than likely to choose him. Use your head. Can you imagine a brand’s stereotypical customer having tattoos? If the answer’s yes, your tattoos will be loved. If the answer’s no, your tattoos will probably lose you the job.
  3. How big is your tattoo / how many tattoos do you have / where are your tattoos positioned? With the power of Photoshop now in our hands, many brands are able to remove tattoos post-production with relative ease. If your tattoo is smaller than a 50p piece, it shouldn’t really put agencies off. If it’s hidden, such as on your ribcage or on your foot, and you’re being employed to model standard apparel, the chances of an employer noticing it are so small that it’s barely worth thinking about.


On the opposite hand, if your tattoo is large and clearly visible, or indeed, if you have many tattoos, you should consider approaching quirky brands only. Mainstream catalogues will be unlikely to employ you.

If you’re really keen on entering the modelling industry but you have got more than one small tattoo, get in touch with UK Models and we’ll be able to advice you on a tailor made progression route that’s specific to your look. Although we do not promise to find you work (we are a support service, not an agency) we do have the knowledge and skills to assist you into establishing whether modelling is right for you.

By coming down to our London based studios and taking part in one of our portfolio photo shoot sessions, we can determine if you have the ability to model and if your skin/tattoos/look are right for the industry. We appreciate that there are only a small proportion of models choosing to go into high-fashion modelling (thus there are thousands of others seeking niche, personality, real-life work) so teamed with our twelve years of industry experience we’re in a great position to supp ort you.

Remember, some of the most famous faces have inked symbols accessorising their body, Kate Moss, Lily Cole, Heidi Klum, David Beckham, Abbey Lee Kershaw and Freja Beha Erichsen included. Some, even, make a full time living from it, just take a peek at Rick Genest.

Before getting a tattoo, models need to consider:

  • Who will be employing you?
  • What will you be modelling?
  • The size, position and quantity of the tattoos.
  • Your gender.
  • The amount of work you would like to secure.

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Posted by Freya Hill

Freya is been writing for many years on fashion and modelling. Her hands are a bit too wrinkly for a 23 year old and she has worked with MTV, New Look and Vauxhall Fashion Scout.