Can Face Tattoos Be Beautiful?

Tattoos are so mainstream. Right? It doesn't seem so far fetched for almost every 18-year-old in the nation to head down to the tattoo parlor on their birthday and brace themselves for their first set of ink. Many people don't even wait that long. While nose piercings, tongue rings and tattoos adorning every inch of skin below the neck are pretty normal nowadays, a UK photographer named Mark Leaver is challenging society's prejudices against facial tattoos. In an interview with SKINKED Magazine, Leaver says:

Too often people have a negative opinion of those who dare to face tattoo. This is often linked to depression, unemployment or crime. I knew a few people with tattoos on the face, so I started this project, saying it was time to establish a truth about his people. [sic]

To fully show his subjects for who they are, he photographed them in their most personal situations, at home, with family, with pets, etc. Rather than just closeups of tattoos, he aimed to show them as people just like anyone else, who just happen to have facial tattoos.

So why does our appreciation and acceptance for tattoos end at the neck? We celebrate piercings, especially ear lobe piercings, so much that 5-year-olds get them daily. What about a face tattoo translates to a criminal or a bad person? If the tattoo owner finds the look to be representative of themselves, why don't we accept and embrace that mentality? Our society encourages creative expression via tattoos when they reference books, movies or our favorite quotes, but not when they don't fit our narrow box of acceptance.

Regardless of where the prejudice comes from, Leaver hopes to end the stigma and show the beauty and reality of those with facial tattoos. You can check out the rest of his amazing work at

Image: Mark Leaver/SKINKED Magazine