Tattoos can be wonderful works of art that serve to enhance your natural beauty. Other times, they can be horrible mistakes that you end up regretting for the rest of your life. Thankfully, covering up a tattoo with another one is possible. It’s not a fool-proof solution and it doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it’s something to consider if you’re regretting a tattoo. You’ll probably be most comfortable getting a cover-up from your regular artist, but you’ll have to check if they even do coverups. 

Do all tattoo artists do coverups? No, not every artist will do coverups. Some aren’t able to do them yet, and some choose not to for various reasons. If you’re wanting a coverup, you’ll have to find an artist that will do it for you. 

There are a number of reasons an artist may refuse to do coverups. Whether they never do them, or they choose not to do yours specifically, you have to respect their decision. No tattoo artist is ever obliged to do anything for you. You also have to be careful on your end when choosing a coverup artist as it’s not the same as getting a regular tattoo. 

Why An Artist Won’t do Coverups

It doesn’t occur to everyone that some artists won’t do coverups, but it’s true. There are many possible reasons for this, the biggest one usually being ability. 

While tattooing itself is not an easy thing to do and requires a great deal of specialized skill, coverups are even more difficult. Not only do you need to understand and grasp all the basics of tattooing, but successfully covering up existing ink takes a lot of technique and may require some special tricks. 

For a tattoo artist that is just getting started, doing a coverup would be too difficult. They need ample time to master the skills of basic tattooing before moving on to something more advanced. For most artists, this will take at least one year, sometimes more. 

Most shops won’t even allow apprentices or beginner artists to do a coverup, even if they are willing to attempt it. 

While the lack of ability is one reason, some artists may simply not feel comfortable. A coverup is a big deal and it can put a lot of pressure on an artist. Some just aren’t willing to take it on, and will politely decline any coverup requests. 

Another reason still, could be the tattoo itself. While a skilled tattoo artist will be able to cover up almost any tattoo, it’s not always possible. Some tattoos are simply too big, too dark, or in too difficult of a location. 

If this is the case, an artist that regularly does coverups might reject yours if they think it’s not possible. 

This doesn’t mean you have to give up, though. Just because one artist doesn’t feel comfortable taking on your tattoo, doesn’t mean no one will be. Keep asking around, and you might find someone who feels they can do it. 

If your tattoo is truly one that can’t be covered up, you might find an artist who is willing to do a compromise of sorts. They will work with you to find a design that will mostly cover the original. Or, perhaps they will find a way to incorporate parts of the existing tattoo into the new one. They will be honest with you from the beginning if they feel this is all they can do. For some tattoos, a partial coverup like this may be the only viable option. 

Finding a Good Coverup Artist

Just because an artist is willing to do a coverup for you, doesn’t automatically mean they’re the best one for the job. Even if it takes a while, don’t rush into your coverup.  You’ve already made one mistake, and a coverup is your last chance to fix it. A coverup gone wrong can’t usually be covered again, and the layers of ink will make removal difficult. So, choose your artist wisely. 

Start by doing lots of research. Look up shops and artists in your area, and find the best ones. As with any tattoo, you want the shop you choose to be clean and professional and use quality inks and equipment. Once you’ve determined the shop is a good choice, look into the artists.  Start by looking at their social media and/or at their portfolio to determine the general quality of their work. 

If your tattoo is a particularly difficult one to cover, make sure they have lots of experience and good reviews when it comes to coverups. If you can’t find much evidence in their portfolio, don’t be afraid to ask. A good artist will have no problem being transparent. They will want you to be as comfortable and confident as possible. 

A good coverup artist will work with you to create a new design that you love while making sure it’s going to cover the original effectively. 

You need to be prepared that your new tattoo will likely be large and dark. Unless the tattoo you want to be covered is tiny, this is the best way to make sure it gets 100 percent covered. 

How a Coverup Works

Sometimes, before and after photos of a coverup look almost unbelievable. The most talented coverup artists are able to work what sometimes seem to be miracles. However, successful coverups are not the result of magic. There are a number of techniques that enable a tattoo to be covered by another one. 

The biggest factor is color. Most of the time, the coverup will include a lot of blacks as this does the best job in covering existing ink. Dark reds and blues are also good choices. Regardless of the colors that are chosen, they will always blend with the colors of the existing tattoo, sometimes creating a new color. This is something the artist needs to be aware of. 

Blues will mix with reds to create a new shade of purple, for example. Ink doesn’t simply cover existing ink, they will blend and work together. 

Another thing that enables a new design to conceal an old one is using the existing lines to your advantage. For example, a script tattoo can be incorporated into waves or wispy lines. This creates an illusion with the old design as much as it covers it up. When the old tattoo becomes part of the new one, there’s less of a chance the old design will be noticed. 

The artist can also use the direction of lines and the shape of the design to draw the eye away from larger or more defined parts of the original tattoo. In this way, the old design will be hidden away within the new design and it won’t be easily noticeable. 

Can a Black Tattoo be Covered Up? 

With black being the most effective shade to use in a successful coverup, you may be wondering if it’s possible to cover up a tattoo that is already heavily black. The answer is yes, but you need to understand that it won’t be easy. Some artists may not want to take it on. If someone is willing, they will need to make it larger than the original and even darker still. 

Not everyone loves the idea of a drastically dark tattoo that covers a lot of skin. But, you need to ask yourself, is that better than whatever tattoo you are living with now? If you’re truly desperate to get rid of the existing tattoo, a large black design on your body may not be ideal, but it may be worth it. 

If the tattoo is simply too dark, your only option may be a blackout tattoo. This is where the tattoo is not covered with another design, but with solid black. Again, this is a situation where you need to weigh your choices and decide which is the lesser of the two evils. Live with the old tattoo, or live with a solid black section? 

Will the Old Tattoo Still be Visible? 

This is another major concern for many. In a perfect world, there won’t be a single trace of your old tattoo visible after the coverup has been completed. In some cases, this is possible. Other times, you will have to live with a small amount of the old tattoo peeking through. 

It will all depend on the original design, its size, and how dark it is. For many, having a small trace of the old design visible is better than not covering it up at all. Most of the time, this means that a small, particularly dark section of the original tattoo will be noticeable even behind the new ink. It won’t be drastic, and it won’t be obvious. Anyone looking at it will have to look hard to see it. 

It’s a fairly common occurrence and not a huge deal to most people. It can be the result of a difficult original tattoo, or sometimes, the inexperience or minor mistakes of the artist.