Hi there! So in my many years of tattooing, I have seen the industry transform and I have seen new tattoo styles emerge from the one original tattoo style. Watercolor tattoos are just one of these styles. When I began experimenting with the style myself I spoke with very talented artists in the field and searched images to find the best representations of the work. I would hear people say different things like -" watercolor tattoos fade" "they will not hold up over time" ect. So why not? Why would they fade more or not hold up? Here are some very real answers for you based on my own experience as a tattooer of over 20 years, and someone who does watercolor tattoos.
It is very deceiving when people blame fading of a tattoo only to a watercolor style tattoo. Here is the truth- all tattoos will fade. All color tattoos will fade more than a black and gray tattoo. The lighter the color tones- such as pastel tones, the more likely your color will fade to almost nothing over time.
Here's the thing- your skin is a living thing, due to this your tattoo will experience its own growth and changes. If you have a lot of melanin in your skin, your tattoo will darken to fit your own tone. If you spend time in the sun with your tattoo and you do not protect it from the sun, your skin's natural process of protecting itself from the sun, will change the colors of your tattoo- and in some cases fade it out completely.
So why get a color tattoo?
Well, because they are beautiful! There is no reason why you shouldn't get a watercolor or color tattoo. Getting a tattoo is an investment in yourself. If you want to keep your tattoo looking newer longer- do your part in keeping it protected from the elements. Color tattoos- yes all color tattoos- could use a nice refresher every so many years if you want to keep it looking new. The lighter colors you want the more frequently this may need to be done. No one ever said when you get a tattoo you never have to fuss with it again. It is common to recoler old work every ten years or so. Although the look of a tattoo that has fully become part of you and has faded a bit looks great too, I think it is just preference.
You have to have black?
Yes, and no. Black is the best for that contrast to hold color in, but I find that some people don't want it to be that dark. So building a foundation with darker tones like purple and blues can help. What you want is some contrast to create visible longevity. It is true that if your tattoo is comprised of all light colors it may fade to almost nothing. The darker tones keep the shape and design of your tattoo even when the lighter colors have faded.
In the end a tattoo is an artistic representation of you or a symbol you have chosen to place on your body to represent who you are. This is where the style of the tattoo comes in. Some styles are low maintenance, such as black and gray tattoos. They are beautiful and very rarely require to be redone or darkened. Watercolor and soft color tattoos, will require a little more upkeep. You want a soft tattoo- you will have to have the color redone every so many years as needed, this is not a touch up and does cost more money- but that comes with the style of work. You can do a watercolor tattoo with darker color tones as well- which doesn't require so much up keep. In the end just keep in mind- tattoos do not look fresh forever so seeing healed pics from your artist will help you understand how they look after the fresh phase.
What is your favorite style of tattoo?
Let me know in the comments! If there is something you have heard about a tattoo style that you want clarification on let me know! I would be happy to help!