tattoo cover up

Almost 18 years ago I walked into a tattoo shop near my apartment at the time and pointed at a design of a dragon on the wall and said…”I want that one!”

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That quick and impetuous decision ended up haunting my personal style for years to come. It left me with a tattoo that I regretted for almost 20 years. When I looked in the mirror that day, I know I had made an unquestionably bad decision.

From that day forward, I never wore sleeveless tops again! I remember the day I had had enough. I was a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. I paid the makeup artist extra to cover that misfortunate situation up. Nothing about that tattoo made any sense. And what was worst…as the years skedaddled along, it was no longer a dragon slapped dead center of my arm–it resembled a salamander, or a black panther, or the Geico Insurance mascot (cues tears and violins)!

dragon tattoo

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After years of thought and toggling with those thoughts, I decided to get it covered up. I thought about getting it removed via laser. I’ve even had companies approach me f0r complimentary sessions. But I’ve grown to love tattoos and what they can represent…if chosen correctly.

tattoo cover up - 1

My besties got her tattoo at Saints And Sinners in Baltimore and even though I searched for shops in New York, my soul knew that my tattoo was awaiting me back home.

When I arrived at the shop the Scorpio in me was still unsure. When they told me that my cover up wasn’t as difficult as I thought, my mind went from elephants, to a phoenix, to a bunch of random flowers to a combination of the three. Le sigh.

Blue Ganesha

I originally wanted to get a Ganesha–the elephant headed Hindu God of success and remover of obstacles. But those human eyes and ten different arms totes freaked me out. Something about having eyeballs on your body just seems wrong!

I still loved the sight of elephants though. They’ve always been my favorite animal at the circus. And then I thought, OMG, I cannot have a circus animal on my arm. You see my dilemma.

The artist, Dwaine, was really patient with my lack of decision making. I told him I didn’t want it to look like Barney or something out of Ringling Bros. It had to be the perfect balance of femininity, strength, and grace.

tattoo cover up - 2

Nearly three hours later and “Ella” was born. I had to name her. For one, it was like giving birth. This shit hurts! Don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t. But if you’ve got enough nerve to sit down and let the first stroke of the needle hit your skin, there’s no turning back. Besides, I am not a quitter I eat all my food (inside joke between me and Dwaine).

ty alexander ella tatt

The fresh lines of my tatt have worn off but I love her just the same.

When selecting your tattoo shop and design here are a few tips:

  • Don’t go into the shop and point at a tattoo and say, “I want that one!” Make sure you take a few days, months, or even years to get your mind right.
  • Just wait until you are 25 to get your first tattoo. I feel like at 25 you are more prone to make a better life decision than at 18?!
  • When you finally figure out what you want, pick an artist you don’t mind talking to for hours. You’re gonna be there for a while.
  • Or bring headphones. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, that needle noise is just the worst sound on this earth!

Now that my bad decision has been fixed, it’s your turn to share your story! If you liked this post you can thank me by leaving a comment or sharing this post on social media.

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16 Comments

  1. Jude
    April 1, 2014 / 1:36 am

    Gorgeous cover up!!! Love it! My entire back is tattooed and there is stories behind each section related to family – too long to write! I agree with your rules 100% – I waited until after my 30’s!! All four of our teenagers are obsessed with tattoos and we tell them those exact rules too – but we always add one more – do not ever get a persons name unless it’s your child!!!! 🙂

    Love you and your blog – and your tat!!!! Jude. 🙂

  2. April 1, 2014 / 1:40 am

    Ty, my first tattoo was a Taurus symbol at 18 right after highschool. I had wanted one since I was nine years old and wanted permanent henna. I got four more after that ranging from a phrase in Greek on my wrist to a lotus. My latest, last and most favorite is a goddess I’m named for that’s done in black and gray, pinup style. My mother asked me before she passed that I wait until 18 to get my first tattoo, and two months after she died I did. My goddess has my mom’s birthdate in the crown as a memorial. She stretches across my back but I love that she is like a guardian angel that reminds me to treat myself like a goddess and be gracious with others. It hurt like all get out ( six straight hours no breaks!!) but she’s gorgeous. I hope you fall in love with Lucky 🙂

  3. April 1, 2014 / 9:43 am

    I have to admit that as a complete tattoo head… this post spoke to me… and I love the outcome. Considering that I am about to venture into my 6th/completion of my 5th tattoo.

  4. RichardsGirl
    April 1, 2014 / 1:49 pm

    Some tattoos are really beautiful and your Lucky fits right in there.
    When my daughters come to me about tattoos (cause I know they will) I will share your recommendation on how to choose and when. I am a wuss about needles, so at this point (40ish) I don’t see this happening for me.

  5. April 1, 2014 / 2:36 pm

    I haven’t gotten a tattoo because I’m too indecisive to make the jump for something permanently on my skin. I would like to try some fake/temporary tats to experiment with. I’ll only do permanent if I can stick with a design for more than a year. Your cover up is gorgeous by the way.

  6. April 2, 2014 / 4:49 pm

    It looks like it hurts like hell but it was totally worth it! I feel like some of the best tattoo shops are in the DMV area. Some of my gfs got the best tattoos while we were in college down in there. As someone with no tattoos and is considering getting one, this is totally gorgeous! Slightly envious, mostly scared to do it myself.
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    • April 2, 2014 / 4:59 pm

      LEGIT… still hurts. Itching like cray! However I love it and I have no regrets. Can’t wait until it gets hot out so that I can wear sleeveless AGAIN! LMAO

  7. Traci
    April 4, 2014 / 5:41 pm

    I got my first and last tattoo at age 50 on my upper right back/shoulder. I got a heart because I love hearts and have collected all types of hearts since I was a child. I also got the word “Love” with the heart because to me that’s what hearts symbolize. Two years later, I have no regrets and in fact, when I see it in the mirror I say to myself, “that is pretty!”

  8. April 4, 2014 / 8:45 pm

    That tattoo is FIRE! I have one that I have contemplated for years to get removed. Ty your post confirms that with patience & a great artist you can fall in love with an art piece that you’ll really love…if youre LUCKY….LOL.

  9. CurlyQNikki
    April 8, 2014 / 2:50 pm

    I have an awful tattoo of a panther that I got 19 years ago! It is snack dab in the middle of my chest! I’m praying someone wants to remove this for me! I can’t even wear v-neck shirts! I have another tattoo as well but it’s not as visible and torrid as the panther! I want it off!

  10. March 8, 2016 / 2:49 am

    Aquaphor was the only thing that helped the itch. I got mine on my back and the artist broke it up into 2 sessions. Gurl you are amazing to sit for 3 hours!

    Make sure you keep it moisturized while it scabs.

    Elephants are in my blog’s logo so I am so here for this beautiful piece! Congratulations!
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  11. Debra
    January 21, 2018 / 5:24 pm

    It’s beautiful. I look at them as art and a way of self expression.

  12. April 20, 2018 / 11:07 am

    I like how you suggested bringing headphones to your tattoo cover-up. I got a tattoo of a cat on my collarbone and it’s just not me and I want to get a cover-up. Thanks for the information on tattoo cover-up ideas and your story.

  13. June 28, 2018 / 9:02 pm

    Awesome article (as always)!!!
    I was wondering if I can ask a question?
    What is your view on white tattoos?
    I’ve heard that they can severely damage / scar the skin.
    I would love to get the thoughts of an expert.
    Best wishes and keep those great articles coming!!!

    • June 29, 2018 / 8:11 pm

      The white ink disappeared almost immediately (in days) so I’m not sure. It doesn’t really show up/last on brown skin.

  14. Lynn
    August 18, 2018 / 6:11 am

    Love it 🙂. I got a tattoo with my name on my arm about 22 yrs ago which have faded a little bit. I been thinking about a cover up as well.

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