Evansville tattoo artist covers up racist tattoos for free

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — As protests continue over the death of George Floyd and calls for racial equality, one Tri-State tattoo artist found a unique way to spark change. Richard Holt with Evil Twins Piercing Studio has been a tattoo artist specializing in cover-up tattoos for 16 years and now, he’s doing it all for free.

In the last week, Richard Holt has helped about 20 people give something permanent a new meaning. His latest appointment, turning a confederate flag into a rose for a woman who asked to remain anonymous. She says she got it when she was 19 to symbolize her ex-husband’s wrestling uniform and referred to the decision, as ‘almost an instant regret.’ She says Holt came up with the idea for a rose rather than filling in the heart with just black ink and she says it fits perfectly with her life because she just moved into a new home and started a garden during the pandemic.

Holt says he’s already covered up one swastika and two confederate flags.

“I’ve got people booked right now for just ‘White Pride’ across their shoulders and all kinds of stuff,” said Holt.

The woman says she is a mother of five and didn’t like the tattoo because it is a symbol of hatred and she doesn’t believe she is a hateful person. She says she loves everyone and always has and never meant for her tattoo to hold a racial connotation and be hurtful.

She says even today, 20 years later, it is a lesson that still causes people to scold her in public, but it’s a lesson she says has helped her better understand current movements for social justice.

“They didn’t take the time to know me, they judged me based on what I had on my skin,” she said. “I don’t want to compare it to the struggles of being a person of color but if that is even just a slight amount then oh my gosh, it’s overwhelming, like I can’t even imagine.”

“I’ve gotten some slack on the internet for doing this. A lot of it was, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this for free, they should have to live with their choices,” said Holt. “I just challenge those people that are saying something, ‘They should live with it,’ to think about what they were doing when they were 18-19 years old and their thought process now and tell me that it hasn’t changed.”

“Thank you is not strong enough. There is no word strong enough really. You’re giving me a new chance,” said the woman.

Holt says she had to close down for a while due to COVID-19 causing him to suffer financially and the tattoos he’s now covering for free would normally cost hundreds of dollars.

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(This story was originally published on June 22, 2020)

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