A scar will always bring back memories. And most often they are unpleasant and we struggle to forget them. They might be fading, but scars will never be completely gone. Aoife Lovvet is a 19-year-old girl from Ireland who has been through some difficult times, struggling with mental health and self-harm throughout her teen years. Now, she is better but wanted to cover up her scars with tattoos, so they won’t keep reminding her of that period of her life. However, all the artist she reached out to refused to work with her scarred skin. Until her mom found Ryan Kelly who helped Aoife take the next step in her recovery.
“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,” Aoife told the Independent. “It brings back memories of how you felt then. There’s a lot of shame that comes with it and guilt, especially when you’re around your family.”
Ryan Kelly is a tattoo artist from Dublin that has a project called Scars Behind Beauty. It is an initiative that helps people leave self-harm-behind, by covering their scars free-of-charge. He started his project 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,” Ryan said. “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.”
“It’s putting something beautiful over something ugly,” Aoife gave credit to Ryan’s work. “It gives you a new sense of freedom and you get your confidence back because it’s very hard to go into jobs and wear t-shirts with scars because you get looks and you get questions a lot about it.”
Ryan was more open minded and supportive than the other tattoo artist: “Understandably to a certain degree because obviously if you want your best piece it’s going to be better on flat skin. It can take a little bit more time sometimes, but for me it means a lot more than that because you’re helping someone move on from a difficult time.”
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The 19-year-old who had been struggling with mental health throughout the years, said that looking at the scars is a difficult reminder to face each day.
“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 explained.
The girl wanted to cover up her scars with tattoos, but she had difficulties finding a tattoo artist who was willing to do it.
Until she found Ryan Kelly who covered all of her scars free-of-charge. What an amazing human and artist.
He covered up her scars with a tattoo of a rose and dagger and it’s a true masterpiece.
Now, Aoife is more confident than ever!
What inspired Ryan to launch his non-profit organization Scars Behind Beauty, was another woman who came to him for the same reasons 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,” he explained.
“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 added.
Poppy Seger is another tattoo artist from the UK covered up heavy scarring on a lot of people including a young woman named Lydia. She said the tattoo has changer her life forever.
“Tattooing over self harm scarring can be triggering. It can bring tears, memories, flashbacks” said Poppy.
Also the artists Whitney Develle has done similar work in Australia.