This Tattoo Artist Is Doing Something Incredible for Domestic Violence and Self-Harm Survivors

March 2nd 2016

Laura Donovan

Brian Finn, a tattoo artist from Toledo, Ohio, creates free tattoos for people who have scars from personal trauma, such as self-harm and domestic abuse. His main goal is to help people reclaim their lives.

Finn, who has been working as a tattoo artist for nearly two decades, provides these services for free because he wants to help people who are are already struggling and might not have the money to pay for tattoos.


A photo posted by Brian Finn (@brianfinnstagram) on

Over the years, many of his clients have had scars from personal trauma but were discouraged by the price of covering them up with tattoos, leading Finn to assist them at no charge, according to the Huffington Post. Most of his clients have also said they need to save money to improve their circumstances, another reason Finn provides the service for free, TODAY reports.

"The cost of equipment isn't that much," Finn told NPR in a recent interview. "It just takes up my time, so if I can make somebody's day better — or life better — just covering up a scar from a bad experience, I sleep a little better."

His work touches many victims of trauma. After 20-year-old Maddie Keating read about Finn's offerings in the Toledo City Paper last year, she contacted Finn about covering up her self-harm scars on her forearm. When she realized there wasn't a "catch" or anything in it for Finn other than the act of helping out a fellow human, she came in for an appointment and received a rose tattoo.

"It's gorgeous," Keating told NPR. "And to think that I used to look at my arm and think, 'Wow, that's so sad that I was so sad,' and now I get to have this beautiful rose that Brian drew for me."

Finn has been giving survivors free tattoos for several months, he told the Huffington Post, and he says that it is a little thing he can do to make a difference. Since his services for victims have made headlines, he has received a lot of tattoo cover-up requests and is currently booked for the next two months.


A photo posted by Brian Finn (@brianfinnstagram) on

"It's just something I can do that won't take much time that can make a big impact on other people," he said. "A tattoo can help disguise the scars, so ... it's like a new chapter."

Though he is always willing to listen to his clients' stories, he doesn't push them to share their experiences with trauma if they don't want to talk about them. Sometimes, his clients become overwhelmed with emotion when they see their new tattoos.

"There's definitely been tears involved -- of happiness," he told The Huffington Post. "It's been a great response."


A photo posted by Brian Finn (@brianfinnstagram) on


A photo posted by Brian Finn (@brianfinnstagram) on

Many have championed Finn's efforts on social media, with some commenting on his Instagram page that they want cover-up tattoos themselves:


Others have shared their own tattoo photos on social media as a result of Finn's work with trauma victims:


Finn isn't the only tattoo artist to provide free tattoos to those in dire circumstances. Flavia Carvalho, a tattoo artist in Brazil, makes free tattoos for women with scars from domestic violence and/or scars from mastectomies through her initiative, "A Pele da Flor" ("The Skin of the Flower"). Like Finn, she hopes her work can empower clients to move past their scars. She told the Huffington Post last year that women from all over the world have reached out to her about getting tattoos and become very emotional when they share their experiences of pain and suffering with her.



Posted by Flavia Carvalho on Tuesday, December 1, 2015


"The sense of affection, sisterhood, and camaraderie is deeper than I ever imagined," she told the Huffington Post in 2015. "It is wonderful to see how their relationship with their bodies changes after they get the tattoos. I follow many of them on Facebook, and I see how, after being ashamed of their scarred bodies, they now post pictures in dresses, and they look happy, changed. It is transformative."

RELATED: What This Tattoo Artist is Doing To Help Domestic Violence Victims