At first, Niall Patterson was just searching the internet for insight on whether he should get a tattoo. When he found a significant amount of negativity towards tattoos, he decided to dig deeper.
In 2012, Patterson started his project, "Beauty Is Not Only Ink Deep." He aimed to prove to both himself and others that tattoos can truly represent a deeper meaning for someone — and that it can be beautiful.
"Beauty is not only ink deep, the people that I am working with are beautiful in their own right, tattoos or no tattoos," Patterson told A Plus.
Patterson, a photographer in the U.K. who has a keen interest in photographing dance, began taking photos of people with tattoos and unique stories to match. He listened to a great deal of fascinating stories — some about love, some about sadness. The unifying factor was they were all significant to the person behind the ink.
One of his favorite stories, Patterson told A Plus, was of a man who tattooed his hand with the time of his girlfriend's train, on the day they first met.
Patterson dreams of turning this project into a self-published coffee table book with about 100 pages featuring the stories and tattoos. To make this dream a realty, he started a Kickstarter page to raise funds for the project.
At the inception of his project, Patterson didn't expect to have so many people eager to work with him.
"In all honesty, I never thought this would take off as much as it has. Actually I have been really lucky and I feel blessed to have all these people wanting to work with me on this and generally have the same views that I do," Patterson told A Plus.
This project means more to Patterson than featuring interesting tattoos. He believes it could help change negative perceptions of tattoos and help shed light on their beauty and depth.
"People are too quick to judge a book by its cover and it's time they stop and [take] a good hard look," he said.
Needless to say, Patterson found the clarity he sought out for and is now working on his own tattoo.