Alternative to tattoo removal transforms old ink

 Produced by Roxanne Blackwell & Erica Pollock

Remember that “awesome” band back in 1988? They were so awesome, you were compelled to tattoo their logo on your back?

Twenty five years later, you’re older, wiser, and pondering the wisdom of inking the words “Def Leppard” between your shoulder blades.

Your faded tattoo is “bringin’ on the heartbreak,” but removal seems like a painful and lengthy process.

Fortunately, there is another option: the tattoo cover-up.

Cover-ups are becoming more and more common in the world of tattooing. A sampling of four Calgary tattoo parlours suggests that cover-ups account for 20 to 30 per cent of business.

At Barron Tattoo in Calgary, owner Jason McNichol says tattoo cover-ups are a big part of what they do.

“Sometimes we have people come in who have a tattoo that hasn’t even healed yet, and they want to cover it up,” says McNichol. “We’re seeing more and more of that, which is unfortunate, but it is a big part of our business, so we can’t turn it away.”

Pricing for a tattoo cover-up depends on how long it takes the tattoo artist. At Barron Tattoo, prices start at approximately $155 per hour but can vary depending on the artist.

The general rule of thumb is that in one hour, the artist can tattoo about the size of one’s palm.

Tattoo artist Erin Belley from Barron Tattoo says that most people don’t realize the potential of a cover-up and think that only small, faded tattoos can be covered up.

“There’s so many people that believe unless you have this tiny little thing, you can’t cover it at all, but there’s tons of things you can cover. It’s just a matter of being creative about it,” says Belley. “Everything we do is custom, so I’ll draw from whatever their idea is and make it fit the tattoo.”

For Calgarian Jillian Urquhart, the cover-up of an old tattoo from her youth was painful but definitely worth it.

“I’m not going to feel bad about myself when I look in the mirror anymore. Now, it looks beautiful, and it makes me feel beautiful and better about myself than what I had before,” says Urquhart.

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