Skip to main content

How to Fix a Bad Tattoo

Learn how to fix a bad tattoo from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn in this Howcast video.


A lot of people in this world have gotten bad tattoos. It's ridiculous. That's what happens when you don't know what you're doing and you're working out of your house and you're getting work that's not up to snuff. How to you fix it?

If a tattoo that came in, that was done back in the 80s and they're like, "I just want to dress it up."

I suggest, usually, if it's not that bad, to go ahead and re-outline the whole tattoo, that way is crisps up the line, it just gives it new life. Once the new lines are there, you can go ahead and color it. Only problem is, a lot of people don't understand, once it is dark it can't go brighter, it can only be freshened up. We can but bright color in there, but that dark tone's going to be underneath it. It will muddy it up a little bit, but we try to fix it as back to the original as possible, or even change it a little bit.

If the tattoo is really bad, you can find out if it's possible to do a cover up. I do cover up seminars all the time. What I do is, mainly, it works in conjunction with drawing on the skin. Most every line in the tattoo I cover up is covered up with the line work of the new tattoo. I draw my design specifically to fit over the top of the other tattoo, and use the lines that are already there, so you can actually cover the tattoo without using any deep, dark colors, which is a bonus, because my philosophy is; You don't have to get it lasered, you don't have to limit yourself. I've put tattoos over the top of other tattoos; they're like, "There's no black in this thing, where's all the black?"

I usually try not to use as much black as possible, because it will look like a cover up if you start using a lot of black. I use a lot of concentrated colors where you get a lot of depth without using black. It also doesn't look like a cover up. I use dark tones and light tones in the pigment itself to disguise a lot of the old tattoo that was there; mainly shadows. You don't have to go black.

Popular Categories