There are plenty of bad tattoos in the world. And while most of them are just plain ugly, others are hateful and unable to evolve the way your beliefs might. But now, a tattoo shop in Brooklyn Park, Maryland, is helping those who want to hide their offensive tattoos by covering them up free of charge.
"Sometimes people make bad choices, and sometimes people change," Elizabeth Cutlip—who owns Southside Tattoo with her husband, David—said in a Facebook post earlier this month. "We believe that there is enough hate in this world and we want to make a difference. Please call the shop and set up a consultation with any of our artists."
As of Wednesday, the post has been shared on Facebook more than 26,000 times, far more than David or Elizabeth originally anticipated. The pair has heard from many people looking to erase past mistakes, and David, who is a tattoo artist, told Baltimore's WAMR that he's booked up for the next six months doing pro bono work.
During his first session, David covered up a man's SWP tattoo (which stands for "Supreme White Power") with some Dia de los Muertos–inspired skulls. When WAMR visited the shop, David was tattooing an anatomical heart over the words "white power" that Casey Schaffer had tattooed on his forearms when he was in prison. It's a tattoo that normally would have cost $700, but the Cutlips are only asking those that receive the free service to "pay it forward" by doing something to help the community.
There are programs around the country that currently offer similar services, but focus more on tattoo removal, rather than coverups. In East Los Angeles, Homeboy Industries helps pick up the tab for people who want their gang-affiliated tattoos removed, and Beutologie in Fresno offers pro bono tattoo removal for victims of human trafficking who have been "branded" with tattoos by pimps.
Elizabeth and David Cutlip have started a GoFundMe page to help pay for supplies needed for their charitable endeavors and are starting a foundation called Random Acts of Tattoo, that they hope will inspire other tattoo parlors around the country to do similar work.