This Woman Wanted Her Tattoo To Cover Up Her Self-Harm Scars But No Tattoo Artist Agreed To Help Except This One

Published 5 years ago

With the help of tattoo artist Ryan Kelly and his project Scars Behind Beauty, which he started in order to help people with self-harm scars, this 19-year-old is now able to move on with her life.

Aoife Lovett struggled with depression and self-harm when she was a teen. Although at the moment the 19-year-old woman is in recovery, her scars were always a reminder of what she went through. “There’s a lot of shame that comes with it and guilt, especially when you’re around your family,” the woman told Independent and pointed out that scars can make it difficult to find a job too.

That’s when she found Ryan Kelly, a tattoo artist, who, despite the difficulty and the time it takes to tattoo scarred skin, helps people to cover up the pain they’re trying to leave behind in the past. It all started in February when another woman came into the parlor he works at, told him about her struggles with mental health, and asked him to hide her scars. “At the end of that, it didn’t really feel right to charge her. It kind of felt like it meant more to her than that.”

Since then the word got out and people like her started coming in weekly. Kelly says he takes inspiration in using his art to help the ones in need from his mentor Johnny Connolly, a really dear person to him, who took his own life in 2016, as well as his own anxieties. At the moment, the tattoo artist has nearly 300 people on his waiting list. Scroll down to see his work below.

If you’re struggling with self-harm or you know someone that does, make sure to seek help as soon as possible. Check out the links here and here for more information.


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19-year-old Aoife had been struggling with mental health throughout the years, and even though she got better, the scars brought back memories she wanted to forget

“It’s very hard when you’re a couple of years clean from doing it and every day you’re constantly reminded of what you did. It brings back memories of how you felt then”

Aoife wanted to cover up them with tattoos, but all artists she reached out to refused to work with scarred skin. Except one

Ryan Kelly, a tattoo artist that started Scars Behind Beauty project, didn’t hesitate to help her out

He was able to put something beautiful over something “ugly”

“It gives you a new sense of freedom and you get your confidence back”

Ryan launched the project Scars Behind Beauty in February when another woman contacted him for the same reason Aoife did

“A girl just randomly came in looking for a tattoo to cover up some scars and I got talking to her and she started telling me her story”

“At the end of that, it didn’t really feel right to charge her. It kind of felt like it meant more to her than that”

Ryan is not the only one dedicated to this great task, Poppy Seger is a tattoo artist from the UK who has helped many people already

Image credits: Poppy 

“Tattooing over self harm scarring can be triggering. It can bring tears, memories, flashbacks” says Poppy

Image credits: Poppy 

And Whitney Develle has done similar work in Australia

Image credits: Whitney Develle

People were reacting strongly to these artists’ great work


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Aoife Lovett, cover up tattoo, covering up self-harm scars, Ryan Kelly, Scars Behind Beauty, self harm scars, self-harm scar cover up, tattoo cover up, tattoos on scars
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