For some people, tattoos are a way of saying something, while for others, they are a way of covering things up. For few – they are a way of doing both.
And one year on from launching The Scars Project, Brisbane artist Whitney Develle says her commitment to offering tattoos to the latter group is as strong as ever, having now helped over 50 people cover their self-harm scars.
Inspiration for the project, Develle told Mamamia last year, came from a conversation with a friend who had suffered from depression and an eating disorder when she was younger and had a number of visible scars covering her arms.
“She was so embarrassed [about her scars]," Develle said. "She told me how much pain it brought her when people would question her about them or make comments, and I thought to myself, ‘I can help her. I will help her.'”
Designing and inking an intricate single colour floral piece on top of the scars, Develle said, had the exact reaction she had hoped.
"She felt beautiful again. She would message me and tell me how overly happy she was, how she could wear clothes that showed off her new tattoo, rather than the clothes that once concealed her scars. People were asking her about her tattoo. The scars became irrelevant, a thing of the past."
Moved by the positive experience of her friend, Develle launched the project via her Instagram and Facebook accounts, offering one free tattoo each week for someone who needed her help.
Within weeks, she was inundated with thousands of requests.
"Society is already so judgmental and already sets expectations on people," Develle told BBC Three last week, explaining that in addition to helping others, she too finds reward in the process. "You don't realise what happiness is within yourself until you do something for another person."