When you’ve fallen out of love with a tattoo, you have a few options as how to handle that tattoo regret. You could get it removed if your design didn’t turn out as you’d hoped—after all, the removal market is expected to reach $27.3 billion by 2023. But you could also choose to dabble in the world of cover up tattoos instead.
Which is a pretty popular choice, for all fans of ink, as it gives us incentive—and space!—for a fresh piece. If cover up tattoos are foreseeably in your future, get inspired from these 11 options that may just be better than the original designs. (Or definitely better, if you happen to be the proud owner of a cover up tattoo.)
1. A new take
Cover ups tattoos can be difficult for artists execute well because unlike tattooing a blank canvas, these pieces need to be designed and colored in a way that hides the previously dyed skin underneath. Therefore, designing a cover up is a very strategic process for tattooers. Small, light, or faded tattoos, like the one above, are the easiest to cover. Here, a South Korean tattooer riffs off her client’s former design, filling the moon in with black ink and adding in a whale done in her signature fineline style.
2. Some simple black and grey foliage
Many cover up tattoos, including this beautiful botanical piece by Laura Moon, are filled in using black (or black and grey) inks. The reason for this is simple: the darker hues provide the contrast needed to successfully hide most original designs.
3. A scene from Spirited Away
The artist behind this design—UK-based Ellen Salmon—admits it was one of her most challenging cover up tattoo projects to date, but it’s a great example of the effectiveness of the technique on a much larger scale.
4. It’s all in the details
Not all tattooers do cover ups because they can be very tough to design and aren’t suited to every style—a minimalist tattoo for instance, wouldn’t provide the coverage needed to hide a past design. But if the tattoo you’re hoping to cover is small enough, a cool, hyper-detailed design like this hawk could be a great option.
5. A vibrant, colorful cover-up
While most cover ups are done in black and grey, there are other, more colorful options available if your old tattoo is light or faded. Here, tattooer Michel Gonzales used a ton of saturation to coat a client’s previous design in the form of a bright red peony.
6. The dainty design edit
Another great example of a minimal, single line cover up, this tattoo by German artist Alexandra Fink shows off how you can cleverly hide a design that you no longer love.
7. The full blackout option
Brittany Randell, a Toronto-based tattooer, worked with her client over three sessions to complete this half-sleeve blackout design. Because the tattoo Randell covered was so dark, a full blackout piece was the ideal cover up option. It’s worth noting though, that dark tattoos can be covered with other imagery too, but will sometimes require one or two rounds of laser removal to help them fade a bit first.
8. This perfectly placed poppy
This piece from Karin, a tattooist based in Seoul, is a stunning illustrative rendering of a bright, red poppy. The natural darkness in the center of the flower is where the covered up tattoo was placed.
9. A bold, black rose
Blackwork artist Noil Culture is known for his affinity for dark imagery and his regular use of negative space in designs. Here, one of his signature images, a minimal black rose, is used to cover up a client’s pre-existing heartbeat tattoo.
10. This dreamy watercolor design
Brazilian tattooist Carolina Helena mixes styles and plays with contrast here, hiding an old script tattoo within fluid, watercolor swatches. Those frame the focus of her design: an illustrative fish that stands out beautifully with the help of some pops of white ink.
11. A deep dotwork Monstera
This Monstera leaf designed by Kuro, a tattooer in Mexico City, is the perfect piece for any nature lover or plant parent. By using the dotwork style of tattooing, Kuro is able to fade in and out over the previous tattoo simply by layering dots.
If you liked our feature 11 Reasons Why Cover Up Tattoos Are Way Better Than the Originals, make sure to check out 14 Neck Tattoos That Are Totally Not Aggressive.