Painterly tattoos are nothing new, and it’s not uncommon to see someone inked with a masterpiece like Waterlilies or Starry Night or even The Scream.
But a new style of tattooing is becoming increasingly popular, and while there’s no denying it’s artistic appeal, some tattooers caution against it.
Watercolor-style tattoos are the new kid on the tattoo block. Using very little to no black and no outlines, this style of tattooing goes against conventional tattoo wisdom to create some truly beautiful images.
Watercolor tattoos depend more on gradual shading and subtle shifts in color than other styles of tattooing, which are marked by deep saturation of color and black outlines. The effect is gorgeous and results in truly unique artwork.
To create watercolor tattoos, artists utilize techniques not frequently used in more well-known styles of tattooing which can take years to master. Designs can range from minimalistic splatters and smears of color to full-on copies of watercolor paintings, and are definitely unique and eye-catching.
Even though they’re stunning, some artists caution against watercolor tattoos. The lack of deep saturation may cause your tattoo to fade more quickly than other styles, and without a strong outline, touch-ups may be difficult down the road.
Watercolor is still a relatively new style, so there’s no way of knowing how your masterpiece will look in 20 or 30 years. Will it still be readable or will it fade into oblivion, leaving only wisps of color?
Without the scaffold of a definite outline, future tattooers might have trouble adding color to keep your ink bold and bright.
It’s not all bad news though. If you have fallen in absolute love with watercolor ink, there are tried and true ways to keep your piece looking as good as it did on day one.
UV rays break down the pigments in ink and cause all tattoos to fade, not just watercolor style tattoos. But because of the light colors, fades, and blends in watercolor tattoos, they can fade more quickly than heavily saturated tattoos.
Choosing locations that don’t get a lot of sun, keeping them covered, and slathering them with sunscreen when uncovered are all excellent ways to slow fading. In the event you want to show off your new watercolor ink, there are options for dressing to accentuate your ink.
Take Care Of Your Skin
Keeping the area of skin that sports your new body art healthy ensures your tattoo will have a better chance to heal correctly. Moisturize liberally to prevent sagging and keep skin elastic and firm.
Also, you should avoid using soaps that contain harsh chemicals and cleansers that strip away skin's natural oils, and don't scrub your tattoo, even after it's healed. Scrubbing or intense exfoliating with a loofah or other abrasive surface can remove pigment from your tattoo.
Friction is the Enemy
When choosing the location for your watercolor tattoo, be sure to choose a spot that doesn’t get a lot of action. You want a spot that doesn’t chafe or rub against clothing too much, as protected a spot as possible.
As your tattoo rubs against the outside world, skin cells slough off and your ink becomes dull and faded. By choosing a place for your tattoo that doesn't see much friction, you increase its lifespan and won't need touchups as frequently. It's also a good idea to dress to accommodate your tattoos while they heal.
Choose Your Tattoo Artist Carefully
Watercolor style ink is still relatively new, and therefore many artists don't have as much experience with it as they do with, say, American traditional or some of the other more popular styles. Do your research and make sure your artist is not only familiar with watercolor tats, but has a lot of practice inking them!
The more experienced that artist, the more likely your tattoo will stand the test of time. If possible, talk to your artist before your appointment and ask lots of questions. Make sure they are comfortable and confident with watercolor-style tattoos.
Check their social media pages, especially Instagram, for examples of their most recent work. And most importantly, if you don't feel good about your artist or if you doubt their ability to capture the watercolor style, speak up and let them know you're concerned.
Despite the misgivings of some tattooers, watercolor tattoos can have the same longevity, and age with the same vibrancy as other styles of tattoo. With a little care and a little research, your watercolor ink will look just as good in 5 or even 10 years as it looked the day you walked out of the shop.
Do you have a watercolor tattoo? Share your experience with us in the comments!