Serious Topic: Tattoo Regret

“It’s my own design. It’s my own remorse.” – Tears for Fears, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”

This is not a pleasant topic with regards to tattoo talk, but it’s one of those things that’s just reality (so much this post might become a page at some point). Perhaps you got inked on a drunk dare? Was it a dare at all? Was it in a fit of rage that you tattooed “fuck (insert object of hatred)” on yourself or something else ridiculously offensive and inappropriate? Did you make the mistake of tattooing your significant other’s name on you (the worst possible thing to tattoo on yourself as far as I’m concerned), only to wind up separating? Whatever the case, there is only one person at fault for tattoo regret, and that is the person who got the tattoo. See the quote above. The artist doing the tattoo assumes no responsibility for your request to permanently mark your body.

A tattoo is a semi-permanent, life-altering decision. It should not be undertaken without serious thought and consideration. Some things that increase the risk of regret are getting “flash” tattoos (i.e. standard designs out of a book or a trendy design), getting a tattoo under the influence of substances or getting one purely to look cool or for shock value. These are all big mistakes (see my “Getting Your First Tattoo” page for tattoo dos and don’ts).

“All for freedom and for pleasure; nothing ever lasts forever.” – T4F, “Everybody.”

Alas, if you do have a tattoo you regret, rest assured all is not lost. You DO have options. The first obviously being tattoo removal, but this is not desirable in my opinion. One, it’s ridiculously expensive. Two it’s many times more painful than having the tattoo applied to begin with. Number three you’re liable to still see the scar tissue where the tattoo was (a tattoo is more or less a colored scar).  Last, there’s no guarantee it will even work or completely fade the tattoo. As such I do not recommend this option though I am throwing it out there.

The more desirable option in my opinion is a cover-up tattoo. That is, placing a new tattoo over an existing one to mask or hide the original tattoo. Cover-up tattoos tend to be on the expensive and painful side (as you will be tattooing over scar tissue, see above), but the result is much more desirable than removal as it will be more aesthetically pleasing. A good cover-up artist can work with just about anything and turn it into a tattoo you will be proud of.

Seeking out a good cover-up artist can be difficult and not all tattoo artists have the expertise required to do cover-ups. Those who do them generally specialize in them and don’t come cheap, but nothing good ever comes cheap. Your best bet is to call around and ask see some portfolios with before and after comparisons before you commission a cover-up.

I’m still on the fence as to whether or not to do a cover-up on my semicolon. It’s small so it would be fairly easy to cover-up, but at the same time it is symbolic to me in a way (despite being a “flash” tattoo). On the other hand it has some religious connotations as the founder of Project Semicolon injects a subtle hint of her religious faith into the movement, whereas I am an atheist. As such I’m torn. If I do cover it up with something it will be something with the same symbolism but a different symbol.

Sound off! Do you have a tattoo that you regret getting? Have you had a tattoo removed or covered up? Let’s start a healthy discussion.


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