tattoo touch up question
April 26, 2017 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Tattoo artists/people experienced with tattoos, I come with a question regarding getting an existing tattoo touched up.

Back in September I got a blackbird tattoo based on an image I found online. Source image on top, my tattoo below that.

I am mostly happy with the way the tattoo came out but I don't know if I did a great job of communicating with the tattoo artist what exactly I liked about the source image (which I acknowledge is my fault - I have several other tattoos and I understand the important of being on the same page as the artist, and I think I just didn't do a great job of that this time). In the source image I like that the bird is very dark, and I like the appearance of feathers in the lower body and on top of the head. I think in my tattoo the artist captured more or less the essense of the idea but it seems more like a watercolor-inspired image than I wanted.

The artist did mention that she would be willing to darken the bird once it had healed but didn't want to do too much that day and overwork my skin to an uncomfortable degree. It healed and at first I was fine with how it turned out but as time has gone on I'm wondering if it's too late to go back and ask her to darken it, and maybe modify it a bit more to resemble the source image. However, at this point I don't know if it's even possible to do the latter.

My two questions are: is what I want, modification-wise, even possible with this tattoo, or am I stuck with what I have? If it is possible, how do I politely ask for it in the tattoo shop? I don't want to cause offense - I think this artist does great work and I don't want her to think that I find this tattoo to be a disaster, because that couldn't be further from the truth. If there is a script I can use to request this that you could suggest, that would be helpful - I'm coming out of a bit of a mental health crisis at the moment and my ability to manage my social anxiety is a bit compromised right now so ways to make this conversation easier would make this whole process way less stressful for me.

Thanks in advance.
posted by thereemix to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ask for a touch-up appointment to darken the bird and add a little more definition into the feathers. When you get there, tell her how much you love the tattoo and then be specific about wanting more definition in the feathers on the lower body & on top of the head.

Then, when she's finished, tell her thank you and give her a cash tip.
posted by wearyaswater at 10:41 AM on April 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think the source image is so dark because it's fresh ink--you can see the some inflamed redness at the edges. If the model was photographed a couple months later, it would probably look really similar to what you've got. I've definitely been disappointed in how tattoo work looks after it's healed vs. how vibrant and clear the colors are when they're first applied. And I kind of hate how popular tattoo photography, and the social media accounts of artists, always showcase brand-new work instead of what it really looks like over the lifetime. It's misleading and we all feel bad because it's never that crisp or bright again.

That said, you probably do have room to add pigment and make it darker, especially if your artist acknowledged the possible overwork to your skin. Personally, I think your tattoo looks really good--the watercolor effect is cool and unexpected for the subject. But a touch-up isn't an unreasonable request here, and if your artist is worth her salt she won't bat an eye. 2nding to be positive when you talk to her, and tip in cash.
posted by witchen at 11:20 AM on April 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would definitely go back and say that you're interested in the post-heal touch-up that she offered. It sounds like high-contrast, textural elements are what you're after, so ask for black in the place of the gray shading that she's done, maybe some fine-line black to create texture in the feathers. I agree that a lot of the differences between the two pieces are due to healing. Besides that, they're just different tattoos; no two are ever going to be the same.

To be honest, I like yours a lot, maybe more. The original looks like a cover-up.
posted by supercres at 11:31 AM on April 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

It looks like your artist did a really nice job. It looks identical to the source tattoo, minus the darkness. For a better comparison between the two, is it possible for you to take a picture at the same distance away from the tattoo as the first one? It appears that your artist did a wonderful job with the shading, but your picture is so much closer to the tattoo and while the ink isn't as dark as the source tattoo, I really want to "back up" to see how it compares.
posted by vivzan at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2017

It's never too late to have a tattoo updated (of course there are limitations with coverups and changes based on what's there). Your artist may have their own policies for touch up fees - most artists offer one free touchup (though generally within a reasonable amount of time following the initial tattoo). DO TIP if your touch up is "free."

Yes, blacks will lighten over time but it does look like you can get a bit more saturation in there. As things heal not all the ink wants to stick the first time around.
posted by Crystalinne at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2017

If I'm not mistaken (because this is what I would want) you should ask for some areas where there isn't supposed to be as much of an outline, e.g. right side, bird's breast and beak, to be darkened so that it's all as dark as the current outline, and then faded inwards. I think the color grading from light to very dark is more impactful than light to mostly dark, with a black outline.

I also think the beak could be lengthened very slightly.
posted by rachaelfaith at 6:49 AM on April 27, 2017

« Older Autopay Luddite Bills When my Bank Doesn't Offer...   |   Anniversary in New Orleans Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.