THE man with the famed "Devast8" tattoo has done a U-turn on having it removed.
Mark Cropp, 19, shot to fame globally after the New Zealand Herald interviewed him last month about his plea for a job on Facebook that was complicated by a huge tattoo covering half his face.
Now he has decided not to go through with having the huge inking removed after having the first session of free treatment from a laser clinic.
Cropp's brother tattooed his face in jail during a night of heavy drinking.
"Once it was started, I thought, I can't go back on it now," Cropp said about the image.
"I wish I had stopped while the outline was there to be quite honest."
Cropp had been serving a two-year, three-month sentence for pulling a knife on a tourist over a drug deal gone wrong.
He initially said he had hoped to keep the tattoo and for a potential employer to look past it, but he changed his mind overnight when he became an international sensation, and accepted an offer from Sacred Laser in Kingsland to have it removed for free.
Herald Focus went to Cropp's first laser removal session, where a section of his tattoo was worked on and partly lasered off.
On Wednesday, Cropp told Herald Focus he was working night shifts and things were going well so had put the laser removal on hold until he got used to his hours.
However, on Thursday, when asked about his progress, Sacred Laser said Cropp had rejected their offer and wouldn't be having further sessions.
The parlour expressed disappointment, but said their offer to remove it for free still stood if Cropp were to change his mind.
Cropp has responded this afternoon by text, through his partner, saying he "doesn't want any more [of the tattoo] removed as he just wanted a job" and now that he has one, he wants to stay out of the media.
After Cropp shot to fame last month, he received at least 45 job offers but turned them down.
He told the Daily Mail he had not accepted any, and was waiting for the "right one to come about".
He said many of the positions required him to have a car but he wouldn't be able to get himself around until he got his first paycheck.
After his story went global, an Auckland company contracted him. He previously refused to have his face tattoo removed but said he would get rid of it before he started his job.
Scaffolding contractor Douglas George Herbert reached out to him and offered him a $NZ22-an-hour building site job.
"We've all made bad choices, doesn't mean we are bad people," Herbert told the New Zealand Herald.
"I'm a big brown man covered in tattoos myself, and I have been on the receiving end of judgment from people who don't even know me.
"All my guys have got pasts, but we're all united on the job site, where you are only as good as the man beside you."
Cropp got the tattoo one night in prison while drunk off home-brew. It was given to him by his brother, who shared his cell and used a makeshift needle and fermented food to make the ink. It took eight and a half hours to complete and Cropp admitted some of the motivation was to avoid being bullied by other inmates.
"It was only supposed to cover up what was originally on my jawline," Cropp told the Herald.
Applying for work after prison, he said prospective employers had laughed in his face after seeing his tattoo, and he was forced to turn to Facebook in desperation.
He was jailed as a 17-year-old for aggravated robbery, claiming he needed money to support his pregnant girlfriend. He was battling to get off the dole and reclaim his young daughter from state care.
"I was quite angry at myself because ... I said I wouldn't let her do it alone. And I pretty much failed," he said.
"I didn't want my daughter to have the same upbringing that I did."
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