- There are three different types of cover up tattoos: complete coverage, creative reinvention, and blast overs.
- The most important step in getting a cover up tattoo is finding the right tattoo artist! Spend some time on this part. Find someone seriously experienced who has a style you love.
- You may have to do laser removal, for scars and for old tattoos. It completely depends on the area, so consult your tattooist before you begin.
- A tattoo artist will help you figure out if you need laser removal first. They’ll also help with sizing, colors, and designs.
I wish I could forget your name, but I have it tattooed on my thigh. It’s like wearing a car crash. Or a mutilated corpse: a constant reminder of the death of our relationship. Even if it were somewhere else, I’d still be carrying you around with me. People talk about emotional baggage, but not the leftover literal, physical baggage of a bad break up…like t-shirts, or records, or the heavy black cursive on my leg. People ask me about you all the time. Still. Having a name tattooed on you seems to have that effect.
So, what do you do? If this little tale is something you can resonate with, then it sounds like it’s time for a cover up tattoo! Whether you have scars or bad tattoos, we’re here to help. Some of us have not had to endure the pain that is having an awful tattoo that you regret or bad scarring from a traumatic past event, but some of us have. And for us there are only two options really: laser it off or cover it up. In this guide to cover up tattoos, we go over what to expect and how to go about transforming your skin so you can feel confident again!
To Laser or Not to Laser
So, real quick, we’re going to explore laser removal. Partly because it’s not as expensive as you think, the pain is totally worth it, but also because you may have to do partial removal anyway. It completely depends on your tattoo or scarring, but, as you may imagine, highly raised scars or tattoos that are packed with pigment, can be doubly difficult to rework. Doing a few removal sessions may lighten your tattoo, or bring your scarring down, so that the cover up tattoo has a better chance of really covering as if it were never there!
We’ve covered laser tattoo removal before, but as always, it’s completely up to you to decide if this is something you’d like to do first. It really helps to talk to your tattoo artist first, during your consultation, so that they can see your skin in person and give you feedback. They’ll be able to assess whether their skills are up to the task, or whether removal may help the process.
Choosing an Artist
This is the most important step! Seriously! Cover up tattoos are definitely something that some artists specialize in because they take much more thought and care. It’s important that you find someone you trust, can easily communicate with, and who knows what they are doing. We want you to have an awesome experience that allows you to finally break free from bad ink or scarring, and that totally starts with finding an incredible tattooist. You want to find someone who not only does a style you admire, but is also comfortable, and hopefully has experience, with cover up tattoos. Jacob Wiman, Jo Harrison, Jen Tonic, and many others make sure that the delicate process of covering old ink is smooth and joyful. You can use our app to find tattoo artists near you, and you can also simply ask your favorite studio or tattooist whether this is something they can do. This is the first, and most important step in your transformative journey, so be sure to take your time until you find a good fit!
Designing Your New Piece
The process of getting a cover up is much like any other tattoo: you find a design, talk it over with the artist and book your appointment. The real difference comes with the choice of designs you may have; depending on what you’re getting covered certain images may not fit. It’s really a matter of finding what works best with the existing tattoos lines, shapes, colors, even the area where it is placed. A good tattooist will want to make sure that their cover up will not only flow well with the curves of your body but will also be sure to leave as little trace as possible of the previous ink. The same can be said of scars: if you’re okay with some of them showing or not being covered fully, any design will do, but if you’d like them completely camouflaged, it’s best to get creative. When getting a cover up tattoo, you may have to accept that your initial idea may not work, but with perseverance, and the right tattoo artist, an awesome design will come!
Sizing Your Cover Up Tattoo
When covering a tattoo, the new tattoo is always going to be bigger; there’s no way around it! If you’re going for complete coverage, that means that the tattoo artist will have to make a work of art that goes beyond the outer limits of your past piece. But, this is good! In terms of cover up tattoos bigger is most certainly better, and having a bigger tattoo covering the old one gives you more freedom in what images or designs can be tattooed. Again, the artist doing the cover up will help you along and let you know what parameters you can work within. They’ll be there to tell you what size will work best.
The colors most used in cover up tattoos are blues, browns and blacks. This is simply because they are the best at covering old ink. Pigments like shades of red, yellow and orange often fail to fully conceal preexisting ink, especially if it the shades beneath are too dark. Think of tattoo ink like watercolor: you can’t cover a dark red with blue, but you can make purple. This is the sort of thing your tattooist will be thinking of when designing your new piece. Usually, the bolder and darker you go the better the cover up will be but, that being said, this is the perfect time to figure out whether or not you’d like to lighten your tattoo with laser removal first. In effect, this will lighten the vibrancy of your previous ink and widen the variety of colors you can use in your cover up tattoo.
If you’re covering scars, this may not come into play, but again, your tattoo artist will let you know if they have any particular color restrictions.
Complete Coverage, Reinvention, or Blast Over
Technically there are actually a few different ways you can go about a cover up tattoo. Complete coverage is mostly what the information above is about, but there are always ways to reinvent old tattoos by adding onto them, incorporating them into a new design, or by doing a straight forward blast over. You may remember the Pokemon tattoo that went viral when Jessica Baker redid an old Pikachu piece into a hilarious self portrait painting by the beloved Poke-pet. This is a perfect example of reinventing rather than covering. This certainly won’t work for everyone, but it definitely makes for some powerful inspiration! Blast over tattoos usually involve bold black lines and illustrative This can be especially interesting and eye catching if you have light or faded colors in your previous tattoo. It can sometimes look like stained glass!
You have these same exact choices if you’re concealing scars. Some people may want total coverage, while others simply want to distract. It’s totally up to you.
Believe it or not, there are tons of opportunities out there for someone who wants their old tattoo gone. People make like to act like a tattoo if a forever statement, but with changes in technology, as well as the genius creativity of many tattoo artists around the globe, cover up tattoos are more accessible and beautiful than they used to be.