hand and body japanese tattoo work

Covering A Bad Tattoo – Types Of Cover-Up Tattoos

If you have gotten a bad tattoo, a cover-up may be an option. For you to start enjoying the patch of skin that you prefer to hide tattoo artists may use a variety of tricks to hide, cover, or distract onlookers. The skills necessary to achieve amazing results are harrowing, but with this guide, you can learn to talk the talk and find an artist who really knows their stuff.

koi fish coverup

What Is a Cover-up Tattoo?

A cover-up tattoo is tattoo artwork that is made up to cover another tattoo. Once the new design has been applied over the existing tattoo work, and the client is sufficiently happy with the result, a cover up has been completed.

So, basically:

Any tattoo work that gets rid of another tattoo is a cover-up tattoo.

We made a video that talks about cover-ups:

What Types of Cover-Up Options Are There?

So, you have a tattoo that you aren’t happy with. Perhaps it was a bad experience with a pushy tattoo artist, didn’t listen, or just did “their own thing”. Maybe the tattoo was poorly done. Or, and this is considered the worst in our books here at Better Tattooing, maybe you have your ex’s name/face/entire body tattooed somewhere on yourself….

Yes. We have seen this before. An entire pinup, full face, full body… And it was bad.

How do you go about designing a tattoo to cover something up? Also, are there any alternatives to just throwing another tattoo right over the existing work? There are usually 3 options for completing a cover-up, and they are:

A Cover-up

This is where you take an image and put it directly on top of the tattoo you want to get rid of. Sometimes the design must be a bit bigger than what you are covering but, to be a proper cover-up, it must be as close to the size of the existing work as possible.

floral cover up tattoo

A Misdirection

If the design you have may not be easily covered by any artwork, then a misdirection is the best option for you. By placing the existing work in another plane within the design is all it takes to hide a tattoo in need of covering.

  • Got some nasty tribal? Put it in the background.
  • How about a rough Tweedy Bird smoking a joint? Cram that behind a totally rad dragon.

By taking what you want hidden and moving it behind everything an artist creates a viable misdirection. What you are left with is an interaction where the new, fancy, and perfect tattoo, takes the viewer’s eyes away from the exiting work. The new work distracts from what is already there making the cover-up much less technically difficult to do.

Hiding in Plain Sight

If something is smallish and can’t be hidden in the background of a larger tattoo but follows the lines of a new design or fits nicely into a highly saturated aspect of a design, you have a hider-cover-up. Just going over top the old tattoo work with something new that is placed carefully is enough to hide even the most stubborn, unwanted tattoos.

A Blast Over

When a coverup just isn’t going to cover what you got going on, a blast-over takes care of coving the tattoo by not caring how much of the old tattoo shows through. The blast over cover-up is done by taking an old school design and going right over another tattoo. To hell with fully covering the design, stuff peeks out around the edges! All this tattoo does is make the existing work so illegible that the viewer can’t make out what it was before.

Dragon Tattoo Coverup On a SHoulder

How To Find an Artist That Will Do a Cover-Up Tattoo?

Regardless of how you ended up needing a cover up tattoo, there are many ways you can work a design to cover even the most awful tattoos… If your artist knows what they are doing it isn’t too difficult. How do you find someone proficient in cover ups? Consider these tips when interviewing a potential artist:

  1. Does the artist have an extensive portfolio of cover-up tattoos? Not only freshly done, but also healed photos of tattoo work that is more than a year old. This isn’t a deal breaker but can be a good indication of how effective they can be. Especially if they specialize in cover-up tattoos.
  2. Do they have multiple styles they can do? Being able to utilize multiple different styles of tattooing can help cover all types of unwanted tattoo work.
  3. When you have a consultation, do they take the time to answer any questions you have? Do the answers make sense to you?
  4. Do you feel comfortable working with them or enjoy their company?

The last point is probably the most important because everyone who has had a bad experience can tell you – the effects of a bad tattoo can last a lifetime.

clock cover up of a bad tattoo

How To Deal with A Bad Cover-Up Tattoo Experience

You must let go of the past to move forward. It’s necessary to heal the wound that was created by a bad experience. Finding someone you get along with, who shares your aesthetic or understands it well enough to accomplish it, is enough to fix any bad experience. For others, the power of a bad experience is enough to stop all efforts to cover-up a tattoo. To start any healing the person seeking a cover up tattoo must work to find a good fit.

Interview as many artists as possible until you find one you get along with. Always be prepared to speak your mind, offer critiques, and pressure the artist you work with. Take control of the experience and make it into the reality you want it to be.

How To Heal a Cover-Up Tattoo?

We have an article about healing your tattoos you can read by following this link:

How Much Lotion Should I Use to Heal My New Tattoo?