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The tattooist who delves beneath skin deep to heal others

For free, Ms Mendes will cover physical scars from domestic violence, accidents or surgery, and create healing images for survivors of depression and trauma. She now sees three such clients per month.

At the Australian Tattoo Expo at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Anne was her first client under the program outside of Brazil. Anne, 19, of Melbourne, who found Ms Mendes through Instagram, described Ms Mendes’s work as ‘‘beautiful’’.

Now, finally, she is ‘‘in a better place and state of mind’’ her tattoo will help her move on, she feels.

Karlla Mendes and other artists at the Australian Tattoo Expo worked in the public eye.

Karlla Mendes and other artists at the Australian Tattoo Expo worked in the public eye.Credit:Scott McNaughton

‘‘Every time I looked at it, I would feel pretty disgusted with myself, and at my past. And now, every time I look down, in the future, there’s going to be something really pretty, that covers that up.’’

‘‘I feel I have grown from my past as well, a lot so the flowers on the scar, it’s like they bloom from that.’’ Ms Mendes said in Brazil, she beautifies many customers’  mastectomy scars with jewellery images.

‘‘Most girls love jewellery,’’ Ms Mendes says.

One customer, 45, celebrated emerging from depression by having a phoenix tattooed on her calf.

Another customer’s husband had stabbed his wife five or six times in the upper arm and thigh.

She flew five hours from the north of Brazil so Ms Mendes could tattoo over the wounds with flowers and diamonds.

‘‘She wanted to feel feminine,’’ Ms Mendes said. Now when the woman sees the affected areas, ‘‘it changes, for her, into good memories’’.

Ms Mendes’s boyfriend and interpreter Marcos Antonio Fazio Junior, said Ms Mendes is a happy person who ‘‘wants to make everyone happy’’ through We Are Diamonds.

Ms Mendes said she feels uplifted rather than sad in helping the clients: ‘‘I really love to make a transformation. People feel better. It makes me feel good. With my work, I change your life.’’

Lifeline 13 11 14 Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

*Not her real name.

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