Chicago-area tattoo removal organization creates mobile unit


Chris Baker of Ink 180.

Ink 180 of Oswego, Ill., has launched a mobile tattoo-removal unit. The unit, which consists of an RV and two retired ambulances, travels to sites around inner city Chicago on a weekly basis.

Chris Baker, the organization’s founder, operates a tattoo shop as well as a nonprofit organization that does free tattoo removals and cover-ups, in which he imposes a beautiful tattoo on top of already existing ink.

“Seventy percent  of the work I do is free,” he says. “It’s tattoo removal and tattoo cover-ups for former gang members, former inmates, victims of sex trafficking and victims of domestic violence.  I also do cover-ups for people who cut themselves.”

About one-quarter of the procedures he performs are cover-ups; the rest removals. “I don’t do any cover-up work on the hands or the neck, and that’s where most of the gang tattoos are,” Baker says. “We want people to go out and get a job. In the tattoo industry we call those tattoos job killers.”

Making it mobile

Baker is an outreach pastor who does street ministry in Chicago. He looks at his tattoo removal work and the mobile unit as an extension of this.

The idea for the mobile unit came about during a meeting last summer between Baker and the Illinois Health Department to discuss a new facility for his tattoo business. Department officials suggested a mobile unit. Although a good idea, it was something Baker thought might happen in the distant future. But thanks to the donation of an RV not too long afterwards, his organization was able to begin its mobile unit this spring.

Word spread, and soon Baker had received two more vehicles – retired ambulances. He and a group of volunteers go throughout the inner city of Chicago on a weekly basis and have also visited Detroit, Kansas City and Indianapolis.

How it works

A church, a ministry or other group will approach Ink 180 saying they have a number of people who want gang and other tattoos removed. He works with the churches to make it an event that may include various other organizations and providers offering services like GED preparation or dental care.

Tattoo removal appointments are made ahead of time, and he has two or three people ready to volunteer. He and his team can perform up to 20 removals per vehicle and have done a total of up to 60 removals per day.

Baker never charges for any of the tattoo removals or cover-ups done by the mobile unit or the nonprofit Ink 180 Ministry. He raises money from donations on his website and from the many churches and organizations where he does public speaking engagements. He also often receives donations from the clients of his for-profit tattoo business.

To learn more Chris Baker and Ink 180, visit the organization’s website at


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  1. I have a tattoo of my exhusband’s name. I would really love to get it covered up. He was abusive, I’m hoping I qualify. We’re divorced now. Please let me know any steps I may need to take. Thank you and bless you.

  2. Just got released, have multiple visible gang tattoos. In need of removal or cover—up. Live in Chicago Illinois 60609

  3. I am trying to get this 5 point crown remove off of my face. I can not get a really good job due to the fact of the face tattoo.

  4. I am a prison chaplain in Ohio that works closely with our STG (strategic threat group), in fact we share an office in the institution. I would like to know if there is anyway to bring this service inside the prison. Maybe schedule an event that allows inmates who want out of the gang culture have the procedure. I know of an ex AB member who gave his life to Christ. He desperately wanted to share his faith and realized that when people seen him they seen the huge “thunderbolt” tattoos first. Desperate to change that; he took matters into his own hands and sanded the tattoo off with sandpaper; causing great pain and infection. He now mentors young men of all color, and I know of more people like him. I would love to set up an event and can imagine the response we would have. All glory to God! Please let me know if there is anything I can do to make something like this happen. Chap-Engle

    • I am so sorry it took so long to get back to you. We found out last summer that the ODRC has plans to launch a tattoo removal program in all of the state’s correctional facilities next year, but we don’t have an update on when that program will start.

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