One group is helping former prisoners put the past behind them with a little bit of ink.
In an ad by Poland’s Pedagogium The College of Social Sciences and creative agency Isobar Poland, women who got tattoos behind bars have an artist cover up what they views as regrettable marks with larger, beautiful designs. The video, which is part of Pedagogium’s “Freedom Tattoo” campaign, shows former inmates moving on to brighter futures without the visual reminders that have hindered their potential.
“Now I can discover a part of myself again,” one former prisoner said in the video. “I am a woman. Now I can take another step. And this is fantastic because I don’t have to be locked up anymore in that gray world that held me back.”
The tattoos are provided free-of-charge, and tattoo artists and parlors volunteer their space and efforts for the project, Isobar Poland told The Huffington Post. A few fixed costs, such as ink and needles, are covered by donations from Pedagogium’s private donors.
The video points out that prison tattoos — typically crafted poorly using improvised tools — can stigmatize the people who have them, and may discourage employers from hiring former inmates. Also, tattoos done in prison are often more difficult to remove and can result in scarring. The “Freedom Tattoo” project aims to create designs that are “better looking and better perceived by society.”
“If they decided to get tattoos, then it means that they wanted to express something,” Professor Konopczynski of Pedagogium’s Warsaw School of Social Sciences explains in the video. “We help them express themselves better.”
If you’d like to support “Freedom Tattoo,” visit the project’s website.