Key Points:

    • July 12 - Mark Cropp put out a job ad on Facebook, showing his half-face tattoo which reads "Devast8"
    • July 13 - Herald Focus met with Mark -Job offers come rolling in, story goes global overnight
    • July 14 -Mark accepts offer for free tattoo removal from a Kingsland company -He's awaiting the green light from his probation officer about accepting a full-time scaffolding job

It was after a heavy night of drinking in jail that Mark Cropp and his brother decided to tattoo his nickname on his face.

Cropp and his brother, who shared a cell, had been enjoying a home-brewed concoction of apples, sugar and bread that had been fermenting for three weeks.

By the time the needle - or jail gun as it's called - came out, the alcohol had well and truly kicked in.


"It was only supposed to cover up what was originally on my jawline.

"Once it was started, I thought, I can't go back on it now.

"I wish I had stopped while the outline was there to be quite honest."

Cropp made international headlines this week after his public plea for work, saying the tattoo which covered the bottom half of his face had scared prospective employers off.

After the New Zealand Herald met with Cropp on Wednesday he was instantly inundated with job offers and even an offer to remove his "Devast8" tattoo for free - which he gladly accepted.

Cropp's plight has been divisive. His prison tattoo was scrawled when he was drunk on homebrew, while serving time for aggravated assault on a tourist.

Now he says he's a changed man.

Despite that, his nickname "Devast8" stares back at him in the mirror, not allowing him to forget that night - or go unnoticed.


Cropp was sentenced to two years, three months in jail after he threatened a tourist with a knife over a botched drug deal.

Sitting outside a small green cabin - which Work and Income allowed him and his partner, Taneia Ruki, 24, to live in for another week - he opens up about the night in Nelson back in 2015 which landed him behind bars.

"That day, I was wanting to score a tinny order to feed my habit at the time.

"We had a friend that we were staying at... had a few drinks.. and they turned around and said if you can get some money to help with food we can give you one of the rooms.

"That's when I... pulled a knife on a tourist when the deal went wrong."

He says he was drunk and had tried cocaine for the first time when it happened.


"I regret what I did, you know. People shouldn't have to come to New Zealand and have that put upon them.

"I apologised 100 per cent and asked for restorative justice with them. If I could turn back time, I would."

His partner was eight months pregnant when he was jailed.

"I was quite angry at myself because... I said I wouldn't let her do it alone. And I pretty much failed.

"I didn't want my daughter to have the same upbringing that I did."

Mark Cropp, struggled to find a job because of his facial tattoo. Photo / NZH Focus
Mark Cropp, struggled to find a job because of his facial tattoo. Photo / NZH Focus

Tattooing became an addictive passtime for Cropp while he was in jail. He went in with just four of them.


Sticking his hand inside a chip packet he pulls out his jail gun, which he tells me fondly is made from two pens and a CD motor.

"The needle [is] made out of a pen spring.. it's got a little trigger out the side."

He said it was used to ink all of his tattoos - with the ink itself made from burnt-down knives and forks.

"Eight and a half hours [with] one needle on my face.

"All up I've got about 6-700 hours worth of tattoos.

"It's quite a painful process but at the end of it, it comes out looking like a professional tattoo."


He said two days after he got the huge face tattoo Corrections offered to remove it but he refused the offer.

Two months out from his release date he asked for it to be removed but nothing came of that request.

Life outside, with the large facial tattoo, however has proven difficult.

The odd looks and repeated job rejections because of the tattoo, is what led him to put up a Facebook post, with a selfie, capturing the tattoo in its entirety.

That happened on Wednesday and since then he's had hundreds of Facebook friend requests, calls from all over the world for radio interviews, requests to write blogs or be the subject of a book and has had job offers ranging from construction to debt collecting.

Cropp blames his past on his difficult upbringing and says he just wants a fresh start with his partner, his daughter, Mariah-Jane, and a job to keep a roof over their heads and get food on the table.


He is considering taking a full-time scaffolding job but has to wait for his probation officer to give the go-ahead.

As for the tattoo, the removal process is set to begin next week.

INTERACTIVE: Slide across to see what Mark Cropp will look like without his face tattoo



Mark Cropp puts a jobseeker's ad on Facebook, complete with a photo of his face - and his "Devast8" tattoo. He's looking for work because he has a partner and child to support but is struggling thanks to his ink.

The New Zealand Herald meets Cropp and the world hears his story for the first time, including the homebrew prison lark that lead to his facial tattoo. He admits he was in prison for aggravated robbery, after pulling a knife on a tourist, but says he's had "a wake up call".

Overnight job offers began rolling in along with international media requests. A scaffolding company offers him work for $22 an hour. "We've all made bad choices, dooesn't mean we're bad people," company owner Douglas Hebert said. Cropp also accepts an offer to have the tattoo removed for free.


By the weekend the entire world knows who Mark Cropp is. His story is reported in international media, including Brazil, Australia, England, and Turkey, and the merits of Cropp's situation is debated in opinion columns. Cropp has had hundreds of Facebook messages, interview requests, and job offers.

Cropp is awaiting the green light from his probation officer so he can accept the scaffolding job offer, and his tattoo removal is expected to begin this week.