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Cover-ups...Get the tattoo you Always wanted!


Sculpture of Cupid and Psyche covering up an old cross tattoo
Angel tattoo cover up

A bear, wolf and mountain lion covering up an old school eagle and mountain tattoo
Wildlife cover up

There is a fine line between..


There are many reasons why one would want to cover up an old tattoo. The reasons are varied and are as unique as you are.

  • The design didn't come out the way you wanted the first time

  • You were not in the right headspace when you got that tattoo

  • You were young and have grown out of the tattoo

  • It doesn't speak to who you are now

  • ...Or it's just time for something different!

Everyone has different reasons for wanting to re-work, remove or cover up a previous tattoo. The good news is, today there are several options to transform your old tattoo into artwork that you'll love!

Long gone are the days when you would have to live with a tattoo that makes you avoid mirrors. The vision and skilled technique of todays tattoo artists have made it possible to enhance or entirely recreate a tattoo in vivid detail, while concealing all evidence of the old tattoo.

Old face tattoo covered up by a demon skull
Demon skull cover up

What is a Cover-up Tattoo?

The term 'Cover-Up' is commonly used to describe the process of reworking an old tattoo or transforming it into an entirely new design by taking advantage of the existing elements.

To our eyes, cover-up tattoos appear to simply COVER the old artwork, hence the term: "Cover-up". However, cover-up tattoos actually employ a methodical saturation and blending process that utilizes the existing elements and colour palette to conceal the old design and and create a new tattoo.

What should you know about getting a "Cover-up" tattoo?

The Mechanics of Covering Up A Tattoo

Tattoos are created by injecting pigments that are suspended within the upper dermis of the skin. When a tattoo is being "covered" with new artwork, it's not as simple as overlaying a new design on top of the old.

Transforming a tattoo is an involved process that requires planning and patience to get right. The process of covering a tattoo is not straightforward. The creation of the new artwork is fluid and needs to work with the elements of the old tattoo in order to achieve a positive and predictable outcome.

Being a Coverup specialist is a unique skill that is developed over time, with years of dedication. An experienced cover-up artists has developed the ability to anticipate how colours will react when combined.

However, that doesn't mean the body will respond exactly as expected every time.

This is the key challenge to creating masterful cover-up transformations and the reason why it's so difficult to assess how long a cover-up tattoo will take to complete.

Here's What You Can Expect From the Tattoo Cover-up Process:

It Will Take Longer

Depending on the size, colour and saturation of the old tattoo and what the new desired design will be, the new tattoo may require much more time in the chair. Be prepared for that. Reworking the existing ink in the tattoo is done by consistent layering, blending and saturating the colour palette to obtain the desired effect.

The New Tattoo May be Larger

Every tattoo that is designed to cover an existing tattoo will likely need to be larger than the old artwork. The positioning and design of the original tattoo may require an alteration of the size and placement of the new design to not only cover-up the old tattoo but also to fit the body shape.

Tattoo Position Could Limit Your Options

If the tattoo was initially placed on a part of the body with minimal space to expand, your initial cover up design plans may need to be revised. This is why it's imperative that you seek out a tattoo artist who specializes in cover-ups so that you can work collaboratively on a design that fits all of your needs.

Are Cover-up Tattoos More Expensive?

Yes, they generally are. The reason for this is that cover-ups often take more time due to the artist not working with a blank canvas. Covering up a tattoo involves a multi-phase approach. Firstly, it entails a significant initial assessment to establish all design possibilities. Secondly, the defining and often reworking the design can take some time. Lastly, due to the old tattoo underneath, the new tattoo may require more saturation and may need to be "gone over"/ have the same section repeated more than once in order to fully cover up the old tattoo.

Do Cover-ups Hurt More?

Not necessarily. All tattoos hurt. It is needles in your skin so how much pain you feel is individual. Everybody has a different pain tolerance. Some things that can affect your pain tolerance can be...

  • Things in your life may influence how much pain you feel on a particular day e.g. lack of sleep, illness, hangover, emotional distress...the list goes on.

  • The time between appointments. We recommend a minimum of two weeks between appointments.

  • The area of the body in which you are tattooing can be more sensitive.

Some people experience minimal pain and some people feel so much pain that they choose to use a numbing cream*.... whatever works for you to feel comfortable, works for us.

Coverups can be more painful in the sense that depending on the elements discussed above (saturation, blending, etc.), certain sections may need to be "gone over" more than once to conceal and build elements of the new design. This would generally make it more painful.

It Will Require More Healing

When there is more work being concentrated in the same area (as described above), the trauma to the tissue will be more intense. This will extend the healing process. This is why it's important to listen to your tattoo artists recommendations for aftercare.

Do you have a tattoo you want to take from this:

Old tattoo before the cover up
pre cover up tattoo

To this?

Finished cover up of an Archangel covering an old cross tattoo
Archangel Tattoo

Choosing A Cover Up Tattoo Artist That You Can TRUST

Tattoo cover-ups are one the most challenging of the tattoo specialties. It requires years of experience, vision and a deep understanding of colour dynamics. Tattoo artists whose scope of work includes cover-ups should be extremely adept at colour layering, shading, shadows and blending elements.

Japanese symbols covered by angel statue
cover up tattoo

If you have a tattoo that you would like to rework or transform into a new design, the first step is to get your current tattoo assessed by a Cover-Up Specialist.

Malefic Tattoos

30+ Years Revitalizing YOUR Artwork

Fabien's Malefic Tattoos is known for taking on the most challenging artwork and rendering phenomenal results. Fabien provides no-charge cover up assessments over email.

Do you have a tattoo that never lived up to expectations? Do you wonder what a Master Tattoo Artist could make of it…

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