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Tattoo artist raises money for Flint with a heart tattoo

Feb 22, 2016

The Flint water crisis has elicited strong reactions from people all over the world. Whether that’s anger, disbelief, compassion, heartbreak or some combination of all those things, many people want to help.

Carrie Metz-Caporusso is a tattoo artist in Ann Arbor and she came up with an unusual idea for a Flint fundraiser.

The idea was simple: Sketch up a tattoo as a symbol of hope for Flint, post about it on Facebook, pick a day where people could come in and get the tattoo for $50, then donate her labor and all the cash to a Flint charity.

The Flint heart connected to a drop of water
Credit Mark Brush

Metz-Caporusso thought five people might show up.

Instead, 35 people came to the Lucky Monkey Tattoo Parlor for their Flint tattoo. Metz-Caporusso and her husband Tony did all the tattooing, and they had to turn away 20 people at the end of night because it was closing time.

Metz-Caporusso says this was her personal record of the most tattoos she’s done in a single day.

But getting a tattoo that symbolizes a tragic event is a hard-core commitment. It begs the question, why?

Mallory Milewski said she loved the idea that the money went to a great cause. Another person saw the tattoo as a symbol of hope. Almost everyone who got a tattoo already had several.

Mother and daughter Jennifer and Holly Krause like to get tattoos, as a fun activity to do together. Jennifer is a retired school teacher and Holly just got a certificate in broadcasting.

Jennifer and Holly Krause
Credit Mark Brush

Jennifer says, like her new tattoo, the Flint water crisis is not going away.

“I think it represents the children in Flint with the heart and the blue shades. It’s something we’re always going to remember because it’s very devastating – not just to Flint, but to the whole state.”

Jennifer got her tattoo on her forearm and Holly got hers on her wrist. They picked those prominent spots so people could ask them about it and they could strike up a conversation and educate folks about the Flint water crisis. 

Credit Mercedes Mejia

Metz-Caporusso said the mood all day in the shop was positive and hopeful. She said people seemed happy to wait several hours to get their tattoo, and she heard no complaints. She also said almost everyone she tattooed told her how angry they were at Gov. Rick Snyder, and how they thought he was ultimately to blame for the Flint water crisis.

But one person stuck out to Metz-Caporusso and her husband Tony. It was a woman from Flint, getting her first tattoo ever. She also happened to be the only Flint resident who got tattooed that day, as far as they knew.

Tony Caporusso and Carrie Metz-Caporusso. Tony gave his wife Carrie the first Flint tattoo of the day.
Credit Mercedes Mejia

They said she was unusually quiet compared to everyone else, who was chatty and excited.

In fact, while she got her tattoo, they said she barely said a thing. 

At the end of the day, with lots of tips included, they raised $2,200, and donated the money to a Flint charity. The couple hopes to inspire other tattoo shops to do similar fundraisers for Flint, and if any shops want to use their design, they say they’re welcome to it.