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Second Chance Ink

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A cover-up can be a second chance if you have a tattoo you're not happy with, and hopefully you have learnt from your past mistakes, because finding the right artist is more crucial now more than ever. You don't often get another chance once you have covered up a bad tattoo. A good cover-up artist can transform the area to a beautiful work of art. However, this skill comes at a price. Here are some things to know about cover-ups:

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Cover-ups cost more.

In order for a cover-up to be effective, the artist has to figure out how to trick the eye into not seeing the original tattoo underneath it. This is typically accomplished by going larger and hiding the cover-up in an area of the new design that is more textured and/or darker. This requires more planning and thought than just creating a tattoo on fresh skin. This means that you are typically charged for prep/drawing time or charged slightly more by the hour to compensate.

You only really get one chance.

Plenty of times a client will come into a shop with a tattoo they want to get rid of, and when the artist asks, “What do you want to cover it with?”, the reply is, “I don't care — I just want it gone.” This is problematic, because the artist may be able to cover your tattoo with many things and if you don’t give direction, you end up with another piece you don’t love. Once you have a cover-up, it becomes much harder to cover it up again as it typically is larger, darker, and more saturated with colour. So, when you go in for a cover up, it is greatly recommended you have ideas on what you want so that the artist has a general idea and direction to take.

ty ryan tattoo, cover up tattoo, tattoo cover upClients can be impossible to please.

If a client comes into a shop with a piece they hate, their options are often extremely limited; the artist can only do so much in many cases. This is an issue when a client comes in with a piece they hate that overall isn't actually a bad tattoo. Reason being: that client is likely never going to be happy. This type of client is a nightmare scenario, because you run the risk of doing a great tattoo and still having a client that hates the piece. In this situation, artists will often refuse to do the tattoo because they genuinely feel like the client is going to be better off not getting more work done.

Another example of impossible clients is when a client comes in with a cover-up idea that literally cannot work to cover the piece they have. They either want a design that is too small or too light and will not cover the existing tattoo.

The artist is more limited.

When you get a tattoo over fresh skin, the possibilities are endless — an artist has creative reign to create something exactly as you and they want. But when there is a tattoo to cover, the artist must work with another artist’s work, or disaster, and turn it into something great. This often limits their colour choices, style, and creative control. For example, wanting a pink rose to cover your black grim reaper tattoo is a bit unrealistic. Yes, the artist may be able to make a rose design, but pink may be too light of a colour to successfully cover the existing piece.

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Laser removal may be a better choice.

One or two treatments of a large or dark tattoo can lighten a tattoo enough to allow an artist more freedom of options. If you do your research on laser removal in your area, look for a clinic using a NANO second or Q-Switch Laser as opposed to PICO. The marketing will have you believe Pico is better, but the science doesn't support the claims. Q-Switch lasers offer true wavelengths and a deeper reach into the skin, meaning they can reach all the ink in the skin and remove it. Q-Switch technology has years of successful results and costs less per session overall. (Heads up, we do laser removal at Grim City Tattoo Club!)

You may hide the tattoo, but scars will remain.

Both cover-ups and laser removal can only do so much. If there is scarring that was done in the initial tattoo process, you can remove or camouflage the ink, but the scar tissue itself will remain visible.

We always recommend doing your research, and now you understand why. With new tattoos on fresh skin, you can choose any artist, any style, any size. If you go to a subpar artist or an artist who doesn’t consistently nail the style you desire, you could end up hating your tattoo. The tattoo artist can only do so much with a cover-up, even with an open mind and plenty of ideas, because the artistic vision and end goal will be determined by what is physically possible.

Memphis Cadeau

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.