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What is a Tattoo Coverup?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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A tattoo coverup is a tattoo which is designed to cover up another tattoo, as the name implies. Coverups are used for all sorts of reasons, ranging from a desire to cover up a gang tattoo to a plan to rework an existing design to make it more interesting or aesthetically pleasing. Many tattoo artists offer coverups to their clients, although you may be asked to pay a bit more, reflecting the fact that the process of a tattoo coverup tends to be more involved than that for a regular tattoo.

As you might imagine, the success of a tattoo coverup is dependent on the tattoo which is being covered, and the skill and experience of the artist. The artist first has to assess the existing design, and then come up with a design which will artfully cover it, ideally without making it apparent that the new tattoo is a coverup. During the tattooing process, the artist may have to use a variety of techniques to make the coverup successful, including the use of heavy inking to ensure even and thorough penetration.

Finding an artist who will do coverups is just like finding any other tattoo artist. You can start by asking for word of mouth recommendations from people who have received coverups you like, or simply from people with tattoos you admire, whether or not they are coverups. You can also simply look for an artist who works in a style you like, and ask if he or she does coverups. In either case, ask to see a portfolio of tattoo coverup work with before and after photos, and if possible, ask to see pictures of their coverups after several months of healing to see how they turn out.

When you meet with an artist to discuss a tattoo coverup, he or she will ask to see the tattoo you want to cover, and a tracing of the design will typically be made to create a framework for the coverup. You can discuss your options with the artist. Be aware that a tattoo coverup is limited by the size of the existing tattoo and the inks used; for example, a very dark tattoo will require a dark coverup, while lighter tattoos can be covered up with a less heavy hand. The artist will typically come up with some rough sketches, and then create a custom piece for your approval; if you like the design, you can make an appointment to start the tattoo coverup.

Obviously, most people want to avoid a situation where they might need a cover up. However, your taste and lifestyle may go in directions you don't expect over the course of your life, and a tattoo coverup is a great option for reworking tattoos you are unhappy with, as opposed to living with them or enduring the pain and expense of tattoo removal.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Musical Expert researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By momothree — On Jan 03, 2011

I had my husband's name tattooed on my chest a few years ago. Everyone tried to tell me not to do it, but I didn't listen. So, I learned the hard way. I had to do a coverup for tattoos.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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