I get a lot of questions about coverup tattoos, and so I thought I'd write a quick ins and outs of coverups to help my clients, and future clients understand the complexity that comes along with coverup projects. I hope the following will answer most if not all questions any of you might have.
In tattooing it's inevitable that you will end up doing some cover up work. I get asked to do coverups constantly, and I actually really enjoy the challenge that the majority of them pose from a technical aspect. A lot of my clients in the past have mentioned to me that I wasn't the first artist they approached for their coverup projects, and most of them were told their tattoos couldn't be covered... Now this could be for multiple reasons-
- The artist they were working with just didn't want to do a coverup, which I totally understand. Coverups are very hard, and not for everyone.
- The artist didn't know how to do coverups. Again this is totally not a bad thing, not everyone does or knows how to do coverups.
- The artist just felt that the tattoo could not be covered. In some cases this is true.
Not every tattoo can be covered, some things just won't work. It's unfortunate, but it does happen occasionally.
While in some cases an old tattoo just can't be covered, in most cases they can be, and this is how I go about it.
Covering a tattoo isn't just about covering. Let's face it, the only thing that covers black, is black, but a coverup is more about distracting the eye so you don't see what was once there. I do a lot of coverups, A LOT, and from doing a lot of them I've also learned you can only use certain colors in coverups, I won't go in to detail because well that's a bit of a trade secret, but just know in advance the colors you want in your coverup might not be doable.
When approached to do a coverup I always suggest that the client come up with 3 to 5 ideas of something they would want to wear as a tattoo. Don't think of it as a coverup, just think of what you would want to have on you. Most times from that many ideas I can narrow it down to one that will work for your particular coverup.
Organic imagery usually works best for a coverup. What do I mean by organic? Anything from nature i.e. animals, flowers, skulls, etc... Anything with shapes and textures that will help cover the old tattoo. Imagery that is geometric sometimes won't work. If you're tattoo is say round in shape and rather large I can't cover it with a cross... The cross would have to be gigantic, but if you throw in some flowers and some other elements that fill up the space, then that could work.
Also coverups generally have to be solid color (not always), sometimes black and grey will work, but it's a case by case thing. Negative space almost always won't work. The new tattoo will obviously have to be bigger than the original, but usually it wouldn't have to be drastically bigger.
That's about all i can think of at the moment, but if any of the information provided didn't answer your particular question, feel free to ask in a comment, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is an example of a rather tricky coverup that I am in the process of working on, just to show some examples of my work.
Thanks again, I hope this post was helpful.