5 ways to avoid tattoo regret

5 ways to avoid tattoo regret


Ahh, tattoo regret.

I own and manage a tattoo studio. I have spoken to more than most about tattoo regrets and it doesn’t take long for a pattern to emerge. I’ve done my research and I’m going to share with you the top 5 ways to avoid tattoo regret.



There is no particular tattoo subject matter or style that is universally regretted by those who wear it. Read that again.

Not even 90s tribal.

However for almost every single person who really regrets an old tattoo, rushing was part of the problem. And I don’t necessarily mean rushing the tattoo decision.

Sure, there are many who walked in to a tattoo studio one rainy Saturday and picked something off a wall of unoriginal tattoo flash (guilty). But being spontaneous with the design is not the only way to find yourself discussing a cover up a few years on.

Many put their tattoo regret down to rushing their choice of artist. They chose who was local rather than narrowing down a geographically wider choice based on an artists style of artwork or area of expertise. A mistake easily made before the internet. Although there’s no excuse for it now *lowers glasses and raises eyebrow*.

When you choose an artist, do it because you want them to do what they’re brilliant at.

This goes for cost, too. If you send out a blanket message to a bunch of local tattoo artists asking “how much for this” regardless of their tattoo style, you’re asking for trouble. If it was cheap, it was quick. And depending on the tattoo, people eventually realise that means it was rushed, poorly executed or it lacks detail.

Not doing your due diligence when matching your tattoo to the right artist can also lead to them rushing your tattoo for you. Not everyone wants bespoke, and so not all artists create in that way. A number of those looking for cover ups do so because they now know their tattoo is copied artwork and they see it regularly on Pinterest.


Placement Regret

The most common regret of those going on to have lots more tattoos. You eventually work your way up to wanting a full sleeve. But right in the middle of your forearm or outer part of your upper arm is an old tattoo that stands alone, doesn’t really fit the space and is not in the style you want for your sleeve. This is particularly problematic if you now want portrait tattoos because realistic faces are a poor choice for cover ups. Taking up prime real estate early on can lead to compromised design when you’re ready for a bigger piece. Avoid having a small tattoo in the middle of a big flat space because there’s every chance you’re going to want something bigger there in future and you’re not going to want to compromise that design to accommodate a cover up.


Couple Tattoo Regret

Hear me out.

I’m talking about names. Unpopular opinion but there it is. These are other people’s regrets, thankfully. I’m far too uncommitted for that.

Getting your partners name tattooed on you is known as the kiss of death. For every person who tells me they had their loved one’s name tattooed on them 20 years ago and they’re still very much in love, there are 10 wishing their soon-to-be wife shared their ex-girlfriend’s name.

Tattoos are a great way to celebrate the person you love and there are so many other ways you can achieve that. Let your artist help you come up with an image based design that either reminds you of them or celebrates your life together. If the tattoo is brilliant in its own right you won’t always have to assign meaning to it in the future. This also means you’re not breaking up future tattoo space with script.


Not Taking Advice

A professional artist says ‘no’ more than they’d like. Or strongly advises against a tattoo they know from experience has a high chance of having you regret it later on. This can be to do with placement, subject matter, design or composition. So when an artist tells you those finger tattoos won’t still be sharp and clean in 12 months, listen to them. When they refuse to tattoo ‘SLAVE’ in 10 inch block lettering across the bottom of your back aged 19, it’s because it’s not a good idea and they don’t want to put their name to that. Heed the advice.

Same goes for requesting changes part way through a tattoo. Your artist is trained and experienced in art and composition. The balance of an image is key. If you sign off your sleeve design because you love it, then get 2 sessions in and decide you might like something else at the top (for example), unless you are a skilled and talented artist yourself your idea is likely to throw off the composition of the piece as a whole.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when a client has had a great idea for a part of their sleeve after it’s been started and it’s been worth re-designing the rest to accommodate it. But it has needed re-designing.

On the whole though, if you’ve carefully chosen your tattoo artist, you already like what they do. You’re likely to get the best result if you trust them to do their thing.


Over-telling your story

Otherwise known as trying to get 10lb of shit in a 2lb bag.

Lots of people want tattoos that tell the story of a particular part of their life. We love hearing about that. It’s great listening to how you swam with sharks in the Red Sea, did base jumping in New Zealand, you have 3 children with different birth signs, are spiritual, you’re into cross fit, your nan’s favourite flowers were peonies and you’re a dog groomer who loves a Bichon Frise. But you can not have all that in your forearm tattoo.

Trying to get too much in your tattoo can leave you with a confused design and no reading distance. You end up with shapes and shades with no features and a ‘muddy’ looking tattoo. One or two incredible features with plenty of detail stands the test of time much better.


Tattoos are a great way to create yourself. They’re an expression of you who are and permanently change the way you look. Having a head turner of a tattoo (for all the right reasons) is an incredible feeling. Learn from others’ mistakes and give yourself something you’ll love for the rest of your life.

Take a look at our gallery and get in touch if you’d like to chat about your tattoo idea..