Getting a tattoo can be really exciting… and something that can be easily rushed into. It’s a funny thing: sometimes a late night trip to the parlor on a lost bet can result in art you absolutely love, and other times — planned or not — the end product may not be exactly what you envisioned. Don’t stress too much…in the tattoo world, you’re in good company, and most tattoo lovers have at least one tattoo they regret. The good news is, the right tattoo artist can cover up a bad tattoo with something that’s more up your alley.
Can Every Tattoo Be Covered Up?
The crew at Remington Tattoo has seen their fair share of clients who want to cover up an old design. But, before deciding a cover up is the route you want to go, it’s important to understand this isn’t always as simple as it seems. Truthfully, not every tattoo is the best candidate for cover up. But, there are often techniques or other considerations that can make it work. It’s a process! So, before you book a cover up job, here’s a few things you’ll need to keep in mind:
#1 Tattoo removal isn’t the same as a cover up
When we talk about having your tattoo covered up, this refers to the process of layering a new tattoo, with fresh pigment, over the old tattoo to hide or change the design. This is not the same thing as tattoo removal, which uses lasers to carefully remove the ink from the skin, layer by layer, gradually, over time. Depending on the size and colors used in the design, complete tattoo removal can be a long process. It’s important to understand that a tattoo cover up is a completely different thing than tattoo removal.
#2 The color of your tattoo
The darker and larger your original tattoo is, the more difficult it will be to cover up. Older or faded tattoos are typically the best candidates for cover ups. Usually, in order to best ensure the new cover up is completely hidden, blue, brown, and black inks are used. These pigments tend to work well with old ink and don’t result in muddy-looking colors.
A really good cover up artist understands variables such as ink age, ink density, as well as how older and newer pigments interact with each other. Unfortunately, certain colors simply don’t work with older inks and can create some unusual results. So, if you have a specific color palette in mind for your cover up you’ll want to discuss this with an experienced artist who can be honest about what’s doable, and what’s not.
#3 The size of your tattoo
If you hate your big tattoo, because, well…it’s big, unfortunately a cover up may not be the solution you’re looking for. In some cases starting with a partial or complete tattoo removal is the best first step. This can be especially helpful if your original tattoo is raised or scarred. Removal can help lighten and smooth out the area before adding more layers of ink. Of course, laser removal will definitely add some length and cost to your overall tattoo redesign process, but you’ll likely be more satisfied with the end result.
Tips for a Successful Cover Up
Before booking an appointment for anothe session under the needle, there’s a few other things that can help make sure you get the outcome you’re hoping for:
- Research local artists. You wouldn’t go to a sandwich shop to get a slice of pizza, right? The same is true for tattoo artists as well… you wouldn’t go to an artist who specialized in tribal tattoos if what you really wanted was a portrait. Whether you’re getting a touch up or a cover up, it’s always a good idea to research artists and their specialties. So many people make the mistake of believing all tattoo artists can handle all tattoo jobs, and that’s just not the case. Look for artists who specialize in cover up tatoos and have a special, creative eye for seeing the potential and possibilities of your existing work.
- Stay flexible and open to different approaches. As we mentioned above, tattoo cover ups require consideration around the attributes of the existing work. It’s not the same as starting with a blank canvas. You may need to be open to your artists’ recommendations or advice in order to create a new piece you’ll truly be happy with.
Collect ideas. Before you make your first appointment with your artist, gather a few pictures or get some inspiration online. You may even want to specifically look at cover up tattoo work online and get a feel for the before and afters. Make sure you consider color, shape and size and, more importantly, review your expectations for the new piece.
About Remington Tattoo
If you live in the San Diego area, Remington Tattoo can help you redesign an older tattoo or completely hide it altogether. Built in 1914 and restored in 2011, Remington Tattoo Parlor + Gallery is located in the North Park district, the heart of San Diego. Remington Tattoo Parlor is a combination of modern meets an apothecary/artist’s studio, and their artists specialize in a wide range of tattoo techniques — including cover ups.