A Baltimore nonprofit has come up with a method for dealing with the problem of visible tattoos. And they discovered it in a totally serendipitous way.
It all began a couple of years ago, when the Ex-Offender Mentoring Academy and Training Center at Living Classrooms Foundation decided to work on family reunification with fathers who were newly released from prison. They decided to use face painting as a way to bring the dads together with their kids.
“We found the face painter and we were talking. And she said makeup was good for everything. It even covers up tattoos,” said Howard Wicker, the center’s director. “It covers up everything no matter what the skin color.”
She said that they could wear makeup over their tattoos when they went to interviews. Wicker thought it was a good idea and asked her if she would be willing to come in and teach his guys, almost entirely African-American, how to do it. She agreed.
At about the same time, Wicker had found a plastic surgeon who was doing tattoo removal procedures on a handful of his clients. But it wasn’t working out too well.
“After two sessions they wouldn’t come back. The surgeon said it was too much money invested on the front end and then they wouldn’t come back,” Wicker said. We tried about four people but just weren’t successful getting it done. The makeup is a much easier way to do it.”
And now the program has two makeup artists who come in on a regular basis to teach the clients how to cover up visible tattoos with makeup. The classes are about once a month on Saturdays.
“Our staff is on the lookout for someone with tattoos that jump out at you. Guys are putting tattoos right in the middle of their forehead,” Wicker said. “We ask them to attend a session, and most of them do.” Those who do are all ages, but the average client is 30 years old, he added.
Wicker said it shouldn’t be too difficult for organizations to find a makeup artist to do the same thing for their clients. He recommends contacting a local playhouse – like those found in every city and even some small towns – to find out the name of and contact info for their makeup artist. Every playhouse has one. Contact that person and ask them if they’d be interested in teaching ex-offenders with tattoos how to cover them up.
The makeup artists’ skills are really being used, according to Wicker, and they are very much appreciated, because what they do can make a big difference in the lives of formerly incarcerated people who are looking for work.
His organization buys the makeup but asks the guys they give it to to use it sparingly – only for interviews.
Individuals who can’t find a class at an organization can visit a professional makeup artist for a private session or learn how to cover up a tattoo with makeup by searching online, where articles on the subject, YouTube how-to videos and makeup recommendations can be found.
You can check out a couple of these instructional videos. One is done by a trainer at Napoleon Perdis Makeup Academy. Another was created by an Australian who goes by the name of Nibbles. And they’re both pretty impressive.
$10-$20 can make a difference and provide funding to send job search books to prison and jail libraries and expand our tattoo removal outreach.