Time for a Cover Up
For fun, let’s try to think of reasons you may want to cover up what at one point was your favorite –or first, or only – tattoo. Maybe when you got it you were: drunk, dumb, dared to. In love, in lust, in Las Vegas (where you were drunk, dumb, dared to…). Were you too young to know better? Too bored to care?
We all make mistakes. Most of them aren’t permanent. And if you watch TV, follow tattoo blogs and sites or hang out for any length of time in tattoo shops, you know that cover-up tattoos are not nearly as rare as they used to be.
1. Wait, wha… how is it even possible?
The process for your cover up is the same as for what’s being covered up – ink is deposited deep into the dermis. The “new” ink isn’t magic; it’s can’t erase and replace the old ink, but it sure as heck can mix with it. The artful application of a new tattoo over a regrettable one is a skill your talented artist possesses. Take advantage of it.
2. Srsly, tho, what were you thinking?
Not to be a total tool, but it’s a great idea to think back to what you remember about getting the tattoo you now want covered up. Sometimes the cover up is simple and self-explanatory. You got a divorce? Get the bastard’s name off. Other times, it’s helpful to recall what you were after with the tattoo you now want changed, so you get something you really want this time. For example, if your younger self was a Twihard (if you don’t know what that is, don’t ask), what does your current wiser self have a passion for?
3. Do I need to have the old tattoo removed first?
You don’t need to create a clean area for your cover up. Lasering off an old tattoo before “replacing” it has potential advantages and disadvantages, related to skin trauma and overworking of the area in question. Talk to your artist at length before making committing to laser beams and numbing creams.
4. But I just want this one “brightened up…”
Mmmm, could be, could be not. This falls under “It depends.” It depends on the age and condition of the tattoo in question – and your age and condition, too!
5. What works best as a cover up design?
After you have a good consult conversation, your artist will know how to design the best possible cover up, considering the same elements that go into every good tattoo design – placement, subject matter, color and style. The new tattoo design has to work in relation to what it’s covering. Most artists will use the old tattoo as no more than about 1/5 (20%) of the new design. And smart color choices are based on how the inks’ pigments will blend. (Subtractive color mixing theory for those of you playing at home.)
So if you’ve grown up, sobered up or otherwise wised up, the good news is that a faded or fugly or funny tattoo can be amended, fixed, covered like a boss and turned into something showoffable. So get to it! Call your artist for a consult and get back to proudly wearing that ink.