A Brief Guide to Cover-Ups

When considering getting a cover-up, it is important that you really think the decision through. It’s a new commitment in terms of time, money, and real-estate on your body.

Cover ups are often more expensive and larger than you initially expect.

Below, Seven Eight Tattoo owner Asai shares his point of view and personal approach to covering up existing tattoos, as well as some general words of advice.

Research is a must

Do a little bit of digging on any artist you may want to work with. Make sure you like their style, that they are comfortable working on a larger scale (we’ll get into this more in a minute), and that they do cover-ups- not all artists do.

Have a clear vision and an open mind

Have in mind what you would want to get in an ideal world (ie: if you didn’t have the current piece you wish to cover). This gives the artist an idea of your taste, and gets ideas flowing.


Be Open Minded: what you have in mind is likely not exactly what you will get.

Think of various options you might like, from those, some may work better than others- according to Asai, the best types of images to use in a cover-up are things with movement, such as nature scenes or abstract pieces, as opposed to static, or symmetrical images.

 Think big

A cover-up will often look heavy, therefor it’s best to make the new tattoo larger- large enough that there is a new focal point, which is NOT directly on top of the old image.

In the new piece, the site of the old tattoo will by nature be darker and heavier looking, while in Asai’s work the rest of the image will be lighter and softer.

His cover-ups are broken down into 3 parts:

the new focal point (the main subject) of the piece (like a dragon or a tiger),

secondary elements (such as flowers, waves, or clouds),

and the background.

The area covering the old tattoo will be worked into either the background or secondary elements.

Also, if you have two things that you want to cover, in the same general area of the body (ie: a bicep piece, and a forearm piece) the best is to cover both up within a single new piece (ie: a sleeve)

Other options

There are of course, other options. Some people will want to cover their tattoos with solid black, or they just really want a similarly sized heavy image right on top. These can also be options, depending on the artist you choose, so be sure to discuss all the possibilities you may be interested in with them beforehand.

Depending on what you wish to cover, laser tattoo removal can sometimes be a better option, and actually more cost effective, especially if your main priority is just getting rid of the original tattoo, as opposed to getting a new one.


Covering up, or removing a tattoo can be a stressful process. Hopefully the above advice will help you to make a decision that you feel good about.

All cover-ups in photos done by Asai, torso cover-up done by Asai and Fibs ( @fibs_).