According to a recent poll on the Guardian Art Tattoos Facebook page, 44% of our followers regret at least one of their tattoos. As the importance of quality and standards within the tattoo industry continue to rise, we’ve seen an increase in the demand for cover up tattoos, especially ones that were done by scratchers or styles that were ‘trendy’ at one point in time (ahem, tribal).

If you have a bad tattoo and aren’t really feeling the idea of blacking out an entire limb, we’ve got you covered. Cover ups make up at least half of the tattoos we do at Guardian Art Tattoos, making this somewhat of a specialty of our artists. Considering most people unknowingly think that cover up tattoos are simple, we’ve compiled certain factors that both the client and tattooers must take in to account when beginning the consultation process for cover ups.

Covering up tattoos can be one of the most challenging tasks that tattooers face as artists. A good cover up artist should have mastery of skills in both saturation and composition, as well as experience with covering up multiples styles of tattoos. With that said, not all tattooers are willing to or possess the skills necessary in order to successfully tackle the challenge of a cover up.

Unfortunately, some tattooers aren’t honest enough with themselves or their clients and take on a cover up that they aren’t capable of pulling off. In many cases, tattooing is a livelihood and unfortunately, some artists see any prospective tattoo as a means to pay the bills. Just because someone says they can do your cover up, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true. This is exactly why it’s imperative that you know exactly what to look for when selecting an artist for your cover up.

Some tattoos just can’t be covered up without a few sessions of removal treatments to lighten the original tattoo. Of course, you should get a few expert opinions from reputable cover up artists before choosing to get Tatt2Away or laser treatments, which can be slightly painful, costly and take a considerable amount of time to heal.

Here’s some of the questions that our tattooers consider when reviewing inquiries for cover up tattoos:

  • How dark is the tattoo? A tattoo that has been faded due to twenty years of UV exposure is much easier to cover up than a tattoo that’s been done within the past five years with decent saturation or execution.
  • What style of tattoo is the existing tattoo? Lettering or styles with heavier outlines, such as tribal or new school, can be extremely difficult to cover up, whereas black and grey realism that was done poorly is fairly easy.
  • Is the tattoo scarred? Raised skin due to improper technique or overworking the skin can further limit your options in choosing a new subject matter for the cover up.
  • What is the placement/shape of the tattoo to be covered? Can it be hidden under an area of the new subject matter without being obvious or showing through? Is the new subject matter something that lends itself to covering the old tattoo adequately?
  • Is the old tattoo able to be salvaged by reworking it and/or adding additional elements?

When searching for an artist to work with for your cover up, here are a few things for you as a client to keep in mind:

  • DO YOUR HOMEWORK! We can not stress this enough, unless you really enjoy pain and spending thousands of dollars to fix an unnecessary mistake. Find an artist who knows the ins and outs of doing cover up tattoos, even if that means you have to travel or wait a long time to get tattooed by them. A reputable cover up artist should have an extensive portfolio of unedited photos of both fresh and healed cover ups they’ve successfully executed. Trust us, you do not want to end up with a botched cover-up.
  • Cover ups usually need to be at least one and a half to two times the size of the original tattoo, especially if it’s dark or executed well. With that in mind, you can definitely expect to spend more time and money on the cover up.
  • If you want to change the subject matter, it’s important for you to know that there’s certain parameters for what will work as a cover up. As a general rule of thumb, we usually suggest skulls, outer space or roses due to their dark & organic nature. If you’re struggling to figure out what will work as a cover up, compile a list of ideas for your artist and they should be able to steer you in right direction from there.
  • Keep an open mind. Micromanaging a cover up can be very limiting to your tattooer & what kind of magic they can pull off. Remember, you’re the one who chose to get a bad tattoo in the first place. Ultimately, they are the ones with the expertise, so try to let go of the reigns a bit and let them do their thing without adding more limitations.

If you are interested in getting a cover up tattoo done by one of our award winning artists, please fill out our Tattoo Inquiry form.