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In 2007, on the one-year anniversary of his wife Mindy's death, Chad Stahl, 38, owner of Cutright Lawn and Landscaping, LLC, visited On the Edge Tattoo Studio in Bowling Green, Ohio to honour her with a portrait tattoo. The couple had been dating for 10 years, had three children, and were married for less than 3 months when Mindy died in a household fire.
Tattoo artist Dennis Foust inked the $450 portrait tattoo. "I had seen Faust's portrait work on his website and he even tattooed some of my in-laws with designs in honour of Mindy so I was confident going in," Stahl told Yahoo! Shine in his first media interview. "But when the swelling subsided, it didn't look like Mindy at all — her teeth looked evil."
To add insult to injury, a friend had emailed him a link to a blog post titled "Worst Tattoo Ever" with a photo of Stahl's tattoo posted by a disgruntled On the Edge ex-employee. A few months later, Stahl returned to the studio and Faust tried to fix it, adding the words, "In loving memory of Mindy" but the damage was too great. "I was embarrassed to wear sleeveless shirts and didn't want anyone to see the tattoo but everyone in my town knew about it," says Stahl.
Foust told Shine: "This was my very first portrait tattoo done years ago. I've since moved forward, improved my skills, and my work has been featured in magazines."
Recently, a friend of Stahl's recommended that he visit Scott Versago at Empire Ink in Akron, Ohio, who had heard of the infamous tattoo and on Thursday Versago fixed it — for free. Vergaso wrote on his Facebook page that he got to tackle the official '#1 worst portrait tattoo in the world'.
"I'm sure you've all seen it a million times online, as had I," he wrote. "I couldn't believe my eyes when this guy walked in and showed me this project. I think my jaw literally hit the floor. He went on to tell me the story behind the portrait; He had just married his beautiful wife and not even three months afterwards she was killed in a horrible house fire accident leaving him to raise their three children alone. Shortly after he went to a local tattoo studio to memorialise his wife and was left with this abomination. He later returned to that studio for one more session, thinking that perhaps 'he had done something wrong in the healing of the tattoo' and they butchered it even more the second time. Finally, he drove all the way to my studio, Empire Ink, just to meet me and to see what his options were. Touched by his story, I gifted the entire project to him for free. Now he has closure and I have an amazing story to add to my portfolio!"
The fix-it job took just three hours. "I'm so happy and want everyone to see it," Stahl told Shine. "I'm going to enter the tattoo in a contest hosted by On the Edge to see if they recognize me."