If you want a more colorful and striking skin art, you may want to get away from traditional black ink tattoos. Do you know that you can get a watercolor tattoo that will make it appear that your skin is a canvas and your tattoo is a painting?
Yes, this is completely possible. However, before you go giddy about getting this kind of tattoo, you must check out important points first about watercolor tattoos. At this point, you may have heard already that this kind of tattoo does not stand the test of time and this may give you second thoughts on choosing this tattoo style. But wait before you read everything you need to know about watercolor tattoos. This article will help you see for yourself what this tattoo style has to offer and whether or not this is a good match for you.
Getting vibrant colors—your watercolor tattoo
Do not think that a watercolor tattoo employs a different trick than that of the usual traditional tattoos. Unfortunately for you, the watercolor tattoo still uses needles and ink and still definitely hurts depending on which part of the body you get tattooed at.
Getting a watercolor tattoo employs sitting on a tattoo shop’s chair, getting inked through needles and you know the rest of the drill. The only difference here is that the artist will use a different technique when it comes to shading and coloring.
If the traditional tattoos are made of solid lines, solid areas and solid colors that form part of a larger image, the watercolor tattoo is made through gradual coloring that gives the tattoo the look of a classic watercolor painting. Coloring techniques include bleed, fade, blur, shade and run.
Basically, in this somewhat early age of watercolor tattoos, there are two main types of this tattoo style that you can choose from.
- Watercolor tattoo without a dark base
This type of watercolor tattoo is created without a solid dark outline. This makes the tattoo appear that the art seems melting into the skin and the edges seem to fade into the skin. Some watercolor tattoos even have unnoticeable edges.
The technique to make this type of watercolor tattoo work is the use of vibrant colors. A successful watercolor tattoo of this type will make anyone believe that the skin art is body paint and not really a tattoo of any kind.
- Watercolor tattoo with a dark base
This type mixes traditional tattoo with watercolor tattooing techniques. Here, the outline of the image is made using dark ink. The colors are then added afterwards.
For some, this dark base defeats the purpose of the desired look of a watercolor effect; however, the dark base is usually good in creating a high contrast effect in the tattoo design. Further, this type of watercolor tattoo is known to age better as compared to the other style. The dark base of the tattoo usually fade slower than colored pigments on the skin; hence, even if the colors fade, the dark outline will still make the whole artwork look like a full image rather than a blemish of blurry colors on the skin.
Watercolor tattoo design ideas
Just like traditional tattoos, you can get any image for your watercolor tattoo. However, you can take full advantage of colorful images such as flowers, butterflies and birds so as to give these images the “real feel” on your skin with the shading techniques of watercolor tattooing.
What is best about watercolor tattoo is that you can go for abstract designs. You can play with splashes of color to depict different kinds of emotions and thoughts. Most of the time, the choice of colors itself can already define a lot of meanings to the watercolor tattoo. The most popular design, for instance, is the use of rainbow splashes to convey support to the rights of the LGBT community.
Here are some colorful tattoo ideas that you can draw inspiration from when considering a watercolor tattoo. Take note that what’s good about this tattoo is that you can color the picture in any way you see it depending on your emotions and mood:
The calming sea
Nothing beats the vibes of the sea, especially if you can see it all the time on your skin. You can go for your variation of the calmness of the sea—it can be the seashore, the waves, a boat or a ship on water, and the list goes on. You can play with the color of the blue waters, or the combination of a white sand and cool water, or the orange brought by the sunset or sunrise.
In contrast with the calming sea is a tattoo of a ship on rough seas. Though this may portray a negative image, its meaning can be very significant to the right person. A ship on a rough sea indicates that the most successful people are trained on rough seas or through facing adversities in life. As the saying goes, “smooth seas don’t make good sailors.”
The colorful freshness of a forest
Take up your favorite tree, a flower and an animal—you’ll have the freshness of the forest with you. A line of various trees in different colors will even do the trick. It is up to your imagination to add up elements on your tattoo either for symbolism or just for the sake of looking at something really good.
The reality of a flower
What you would love about a watercolor tattoo is it can give life to just about any flower of your choice. You can pick a rose and expect that you’ll get the different shades of red that will make your rose look freshly picked. You even have the option to just get the flower, or you can include the leaves, the stems and even the thorns. A lot of women would go for a colorful wreath of flowers.
The true to life animals
A watercolor tattoo can give life to your choice of animal when inked on the skin. A splash of color to an elephant, a jellyfish, a lion, a tiger and even a butterfly can make these animals and insects alive. The list is actually endless as you can choose an animal that is close to your heart or an animal that portrays your character.
The different shadings in a watercolor tattoo will also capture the real beauty of the animals. You can also play on different colors (not the usual colors of the animals) and still give the animals a vibrant and lively character on your skin.
The good as real dream catcher
The dream catcher is a very popular design mainly because of its beauty and its meaning of representing good dreams. Imagine that if this tattoo design works great on black ink, how much more would it look like with lively colors? Try getting a watercolor tattoo of a dream catcher and you and your artist can play with different colors. You’ll definitely catch the attention of every one.
The realistic wings
This can be the wings of a bird or the wings of an angel. No matter what your choice is, you can expect that you can get realistic wings of different shades of blue or your choice of any color. It can even be a combination of different colors. Other than getting real-looking wings, you can also opt for feathers and other birds that can depict freedom and escaping from the adversities of life.
Other than these five inspirations, you can be certain that there are still hundreds of designs that you can consider for your watercolor tattoo. What is even better news is that with your imagination, you can almost guarantee that your tattoo will be unique and will never be in another person’s skin. How cool is that?
When conceptualizing your watercolor tattoo design, you can consider the usual black tattoo designs such as animals, flowers, anchor, sun, cross, crown, feather, skull and the list goes on. You can play around designing them on your mind with a hint of different colors. Adding a color or two to these classic tattoos will give them more life and make them more unique.
If you do not want to dwell with these usual tattoo designs, you can check out paintings and other pictures for inspiration. For instance, if you are looking for a good design of a landscape that you wish to get as a tattoo, search for existing paintings and artwork. Then, you can discuss this with your artist to help you design something that will reflect the painting or artwork that you have chosen.
You may also consider giving life to different icons, even cartoon characters and superheroes, in a watercolor tattoo. You can go for a Star Wars watercolor tattoo theme if you are a big fan or your childhood cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse, Powerpuff girls and the like.
In case you do not like the usual symbols and landscapes for your watercolor tattoo, you can go for geometric shapes with a splash of different colors. A combination of colors in a symmetry of patterns look great and unique on the skin.
Gaining more and more popularity, however, these days are the abstract watercolor tattoo designs. Similar to an abstract painting, an abstract watercolor tattoo draws interest, speaks of various emotions and challenges the mind of the people. You can design your very own abstract watercolor tattoo that reflects your emotions, dreams and thoughts.
Take note, however, that when you are going for this kind of watercolor tattoo, ensure that your tattoo artist specializes in this kind of design. A successful watercolor tattoo can only be executed by a talented and experienced tattoo artist who can really play with different colors while giving emotions to the skin art.
Placement of a watercolor tattoo
You can place your watercolor tattoo anywhere; however, there are considerations that you have to check out to ensure that you maximize this precious tattoo art.
- Social or professional obligations
It is just right to say that you get your tattoo placed anywhere your profession affords to. For those who have regular work with strict guidelines on tattoos, you can choose to place the watercolor tattoo in an area that can be easily covered up. If you have this consideration, go for a tattoo around the hip, the torso, the legs and the chest.
- Type of watercolor tattoo
Remember the two types of watercolor tattoos? Take note that if you are getting the one without the dark base, expect that it will fade faster than the one with the dark base and your other traditional tattoos. This type of tattoo requires a different level of care so as to protect it from fading too fast.
One consideration is that you place this type of tattoo in a body part that is not exposed in too much sunlight. You know that exposure to the sun can make the tattoo fade. If you cannot help it, go for areas in your body that you can easily cover up when you are exposed to the sun.
Also, you may want to consider placing the tattoo on an area that is not too much sensitive to pain. A watercolor tattoo may need a touchup every several years or so to maintain its good look. If you do not want to undergo painful touchup sessions again and again, you must consider your tattoo placement.
- Skin tone
The watercolor tattoo looks better on lighter skin. The ink used in watercolor tattoos is translucent and this type of ink looks clearer and more vibrant on an even skin tone. Hence, it is advised that you get the watercolor tattoo in usually covered areas of your body.
A watercolor tattoo, however, can still work for darker skin tones but the choice of colors is usually different. A good tattoo artist will help you choose the right colors to make the watercolor tattoo work for your skin tone.
The cost of getting a watercolor tattoo
There are a lot of factors that affect the cost of a watercolor tattoo. Just like any other tattoo, the size of the tattoo will have a great say on the total cost of the tattoo. As you go for larger tattoos, the cost will definitely increase.
Another factor that affects the price of a watercolor tattoo is the color. The more colors you want to add in your skin art, the more expensive the tattoo will be. A small-sized tattoo with two to three colors usually cost at least $50.
The complexity of the design also greatly affects the cost of the watercolor tattoo. Larger images with intricate details, especially on the shadings and bleeds, will not be cheap. Lastly, the experience of the tattoo artist will also determine the cost of your tattoo. Professional tattoo artists that specialize on watercolor tattoos may charge you $400 for a medium-sized tattoo.
As is always the case, do not settle for tattoo artists who will charge you cheaply for your watercolor tattoo. Take note that this tattoo style requires experience and expertise; hence, successful tattoo artists usually charge more than your average tattoo artists.
Preparing for a watercolor tattoo
It is true that getting a good quality watercolor tattoo depends a lot on your tattoo artist. However, you still have to perform your part in the preparation to ensure that you are ready for the tattooing session.
- Your body needs fuel during the tattooing session. Hence, make sure to eat a balanced meal prior to your appointment. You also need to be hydrated so drink plenty of water, too.
- Wear comfortable clothes that will give you easier access to the part of your body that you will be getting the tattoo at.
- Some tattoo designs may take a couple of hours to finish, so you have to bring along entertainment such as books or music to help you pass the time. Talk to your tattoo artist prior to the appointment to know how long the session will last.
- Prepare your tattoo aftercare package even before getting your tattoo. You do not want to be struggled with shopping right after a painful session. Talk to your tattoo artist about this such as antibacterial ointments that you have to purchase. Some will even provide you with a tattoo aftercare kit.
Getting the best out of watercolor tattoos
At this point, you have already heard about the fact that watercolor tattoos may fade easily and worse, will not age beautifully. This is not to mention yet that it is hard to perfect this art of tattooing. However, this does not mean that you’ll easily dismiss the idea of getting this vibrant and interesting tattoo art.
Here are some techniques that you have to employ to make sure that you get only the best watercolor tattoo and you’ll less likely regret getting one in the first place:
Commissioning the best tattoo artist
It cannot be stressed more that finding the best tattoo artist will make your watercolor tattoo a perfect art. Keep in mind that you cannot just get any tattoo artist to do the design for you. Watercolor tattooing requires a special set of skills and experience to ensure that your tattoo will look great.
Also, an experienced tattoo artist knows measures to ensure that your watercolor tattoo will not age ugly. Look for tattoo artists who will suggest adding a dark base to your tattoo design without sacrificing the quality of the look of your tattoo.
To find the best watercolor tattoo artist, research for tattoo shops that have expertise in this tattoo style. Look for their portfolio and request for sample images. It will also help a lot to get feedback or reviews from previous customers who got a watercolor tattoo to see how happy they are with the outcome and how their watercolor tattoo is holding up after some time.
Remember as well that talented watercolor tattoo artists do not come cheap. Hence, do not settle for an artist because he or she charges lower than others. Always bear in mind that you get what you pay for. Inexperienced tattoo artists may not give you the desired look of your tattoo design and may not also execute safety measures to prevent your tattoo from fading fast.
Alongside choosing a tattoo artist is choosing a good tattoo shop. Make sure that you choose an artist from a reputable tattoo shop that boasts not only of talented artists but also of clean and safe tattoo experience. Make sure that the tattoo shop uses sanitized equipment, including the needles, so you don’t have to worry about catching infections or diseases.
Keeping it protected from sunlight
For sure, you do not want your tattoo to fade to fast and worse, to fade as a blotch of colors on your skin. Hence, it is important that you do not expose it to sunlight like the rest of your tattoos.
In case that you need to flaunt your tattoo during a summer trip, make sure to cover up your skin with a good quality sunscreen.
Preventing rubbing on the tattooed area
Constant rubbing of the skin can easily make your delicate watercolor tattoo fade. Hence, as much as possible, do not place it in areas of your body that comes in contact with anything that can make it itchy all of a sudden. This is why it is not recommended to get a watercolor tattoo on the area around the feet and the buttocks.
Ensuring a healthy skin
Your tattoo will look good only if it stays on a healthy skin. To make sure that your tattoo stays perfectly, keep your skin hydrated, go for a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep.
Use a moisturizer to prevent your skin from drying, wrinkling and sagging. A good quality skin-hydrating moisturizer will help keep your tattoo looking vibrant as long as possible.