“But it’s MY tattoo!”
“I’ve called lots of shops and no one wants to do my color outline/white ink/ micro tattoo on my finger/side of my foot/ inner lip, etc.” I hear it all the time and do my best to explain with as much patience and clarity as possible why many tattoo artists prefer not to do these types of tattoos. I’ve witnessed clients get down-right offended if a tattoo artist tries to alter a tattoo for the sake of longevity. It doesn’t matter that an artist has dedicated their life to applying a work of art that is intended to be permanent and look good as the tattoo ages in the skin.
Why Black is important
One of the main determining factors of how a tattoo ages in your skin is the color amount of black used in the tattoo. Color ink is pigment based and black ink is Carbon based. The molecules in Carbon are more stable than the molecules in pigment, making black ink more permanent. This also means that black ink can anchor color pigment. Black ink spreads less and falls out less while the tattoo is healing or aging. It will also insure that tattoos remain crisp, bold, and clean. When looking at a tattoo the ink is being seen through the skin’s natural pigment. Since light colors like white and yellow are being filtered through the skin’s natural tones, as they settle, they tend to turn yellow, pink, or orange if they stay at all. This happens because these colors are the are the most unstable pigments, making them very unpredictable.
All ink spreads in the skin as it ages, it’s inevitable. Tattoos that are on well-cared for skin tend to look better than dehydrated and sun-damaged skin. When an artist is trying to convince their client to make their tattoo bigger they are also to insure longvity. Needles can only be so small and if lines are too close together, the lines will run into each other as the tattoo ages.
Location, Location, Location
Skin that has a lot of wear-and-tear is inconsistent and it’s hard to tattoo ink evenly into thick skin or any areas with callouses. When tattooing the bottoms and sides of hands and feet or knuckles the artist has to use the needle to open the tough skin and make another pass to tattoo the ink into the opening. Yup, it’s just as painful as it sounds. When healing a tattoo on an inner lip or any other mucus membrane there is no way to keep the tattoo free of bacteria or let the tattoo dry out, which are both essential parts of the healing process.
Leave it to the Professionals
It might seem like a tattoo artist is disregarding your aesthetic preference by recommending changes to your tattoo, but 99% of the time it’s in your best interest to take their advice. They understand that you will have to wear the tattoo for the rest of your life and it is their job to do everything in their power to give you a tattoo that will look good for just as long. For the best tattoo possible be sure to have realistic expectations, be flexible, and open with the tattoo design. Would you argue with your dentist about the shape of your crown? Let the professional take the lead and all you have to do is make sure to sit still.
Tattoos done by Jake Bray