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Published: 25.12.2013. Category: Tattoo Pictures

For many, a tattoo can be a declaration of survival, of love and of independence, like a trophy. For some others, especially people who have survived trauma, tattoos related to the past can be a hindrance in their efforts to progress in their lives. Since Baker’s tattoo shop, Ink180, opened its doors, he estimates they've done over 2,000 free coverups or removals.
Though money's tight, and Baker admits he sometimes struggles to pay his bills, he has no plans to cut back on the shop's free services. Prior to moving to the Chicago area and starting up his shop, Baker, 43, lived in Los Angeles with his family, which includes three children, aged 9, 12 and 16. Though Baker was initially skeptical of that claim, the demand has been high and the shop is generally booked out for appointments about a month in advance. Baker says Ink180 has done over 2,000 free tattoo coverups or removals for ex-gang members, sex trafficking survivors and others since the shop opened in 2011. Being a “tattoo ministry,” Baker’s shop is a little bit different than the average tattoo spot. About nine months ago, the ministry expanded its free coverup and removal services to domestic violence survivors. Many other tattoo artists and the religious community have embraced Baker, despite reservations about body art in some conservative Christian communities. Because the shop is located in a suburb with few public transit options from the city, Ink180 also operates two mobile tattooing units that regularly travel into Chicago during the warmer months. Most of the shop's trips into the city end with a meal shared between survivors, service providers and tattoo artists alike.
When Ela got her first tattoo fourteen years ago, in a small studio in her hometown in Poland, she never dreamt of one day becoming a tattoo artist.

During this time period, while she was studying food technology and then IT, she sold her soul to photography, thinking; “That is what I wanna do whole my life”. Welcome to Flesh TattooFlesh Tattoo Studio Manchester is at the cutting edge of tattoo designs, with some of the North West’s leading tattoo artists and body piercing specialists. Operating out of the most state of the art tattoo studio in Manchester, just a stones throw away from the financial district.
If you would like to book an appointment or discuss a custom tattoo design, call us on 0161 222 8433 or drop into our studio and we will be more than happy to help. Since 2011, Baker, who is based in the far west Chicago suburb of Oswego, has been offering free coverups and removal services for people including ex-gang members and survivors of sex trafficking and domestic violence, whose ink serves as unwelcome reminders of the lives they're trying to leave behind. Though his shop offers regular, paid tattoos and piercings, Baker says 80 percent of the work is pro bono services for survivors. When he relocated to Oswego about eight years ago, he said he went through a difficult time not knowing what direction he wanted his life to take.
His friends “both laughed and said we would have people lined up around the building for it,” Baker, who has been tattooing for 16 years, recalls. The shop has a “clean and peaceful” vibe — there probably won’t be heavy metal blasting on any given day — and also features a prayer wall lined with requests submitted through the shop’s website. In the case of an ex-gang member, a tattoo of gang-related symbols can be mistaken as continued affiliation, hindering employment opportunities and leading to unwanted altercations with gangs or police officers. Six months ago, Baker began offering coverups for scarred survivors of cutting and self-harm. Some critics in the tattooing community view him as competition for their paid work, according to Baker.
He travels around the region to speak to churches on Sundays, the one day a week his shop is closed, to screen and discuss a documentary centered on the shop's services.

In order to meet other needs survivors might have, Baker partners with local organizations who offer services such as GED training and accessible medical, dental and vision care, creating a resource fair-type environment. At a barbecue this past summer, Baker says former members of two rival gangs sat next to each other after receiving services, a peaceful scene that would have been practically unimaginable just a few years before.
But she was so wrong!Six years ago one of her tattooist friends asked her to take some pictures of tattoos and piercings in the studio. Traveling with a group of tattooists as a photographer and assistant to her tattooist friend, she was involved in many tattoo conventions, eventually realising that she would love to create her own tattoos. We have managed to create some of the finest tattoos Manchester has seen and will make you feel welcome as you embark on your tattoo journey. Apparently, he was crying while singing about his newfound thing with the man upstairs (Jesus' dad). Having rediscovered his faith, he began to pray regularly about what he should do — and that’s when Ink180 came to mind. Many of the sex trafficking survivors referred to Baker’s shop were given tattoos — such as barcodes or a pimp’s name — that forever mark them like property. On top of that, the shop also works with former intravenous drug users looking to coverup old track marks, recovering addicts with drug-related tattoos and young people hoping to enter the military that have tattoos on their head, neck, hands or other locations outside new regulations set by the U.S. From that time she couldn’t imagine living her life outside of the colourful, crazy, original, inked world.

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