Can it be covered?

Cover ups

It happens to the best of us: we were young,  we were drunk, we didn’t research our tattooer.  What ever the reason, we made poor choices and now we have tattoos we wish we didn’t.

And so the cover up. Successful covers up can happen but there are some important things to understand before you jump in.

Do you want a cover up or a redo?

Sometimes a tattoo has potential but the artist just didn’t execute it well. Clean up some lines, redo some color and voila it’s better than new.

color tattoo no black, water color , color portrait,

color tattoo no black, water color , color portrait,

Most of the time however we aren’t that lucky. You have a tattoo that sucks, and just want no memory of it.  You have our sympathy. To do a good job will have to be flexible. It’s gonna be bigger, bolder and or brighter.


In most cases to cover a tattoo well, the eye must be distracted away from the original tattoo and to do that well the new subject matter’s focal point must reside somewhere else. So that makes your average cover up 3 times the size of the original.

Example :  In this example I was able to hide the script in one of the folds of the woman’s head covering.  There is so much else going on — you would really have to be looking for it to find where the original design was.


Black covers black

Some dark colors can cover black (see below), but in the end nothing covers black better than black. Don’t expect to cover your tribal arm band with a whimsical pink script. Its not going to happen. We can distract the eye from your 90’s mistakes and give you a reason to roll up your sleeves again.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 5.36.14 PM

zelda tattoo


It might need color. 

It’s not always the case but in a lot of cases a color like purple or blue will do wonders in helping to cover black.

Example : I normally wouldn’t advise covering a tramp stamp with a bigger tramp stamp but this client wasn’t unhappy with the location; it was the dated design. So in a matter of an hour or two I was able to do a combination of black and darker purple to cover this 90’s design.


Location matters. 

If you you have a tramp stamp, chances are you wish you didn’t. If you want to cover your tramp stamp you have two choices, either a full back piece or a tattoo on your butt cheek(s) that comes up your back.  Anything short of that… you just have a bigger tramp stamp. (as shown above)

Example: Here we have another 90’s attempt to be sexy, which I’m sure worked at the time but now just looks silly.  The way to move the eye around the body was simply to go up the whole back.  I don’t have a pic of the tattoo without my new line work on top but you get the idea of what I was dealing with.

tramp stamp cover up

In the end, you can’t totally micromanage design. We will do everything we can to fit within your desired size and design style but successfully covering an old tattoo really requires imagination with design.

Laser removal?

On rare occasions, if your tattoo is really dark, the best option for a cover up is to get a couple of laser removal sessions first. It won’t take the whole tattoo away but it will lighten it up a bit.  I’ll be able to tell you if that is necessary.


 Covering scars.

As a final note, sometimes people have scars they wish they didn’t. Maybe it’s a tummy tuck, maybe you were once a cutter and don’t want the stigma attached.  Tattoos can be a great solution.

As a rule of thumb, your scar should be two years old or more and as with other cover-ups you should be prepared to go bigger. Here are some examples.

scar cover up

mom healed



Below are some other great cover ups done at Monocle Tattoo.

phoenix chest piece

tribal cover up