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Written by Kieran Proctor

Do I Regret My Blackout Tattoo?



I absolutely love my blackout sleeve and I have no regrets. But I worked with my artist to create a custom blackwork that held meaning for me. I didn’t follow a social media trend and I didn’t just get a blackout because I thought it would be ‘cool’.

Now, if you’re wanting to avoid tattoo regret, whether it’s a blackout tattoo or some other tattoo style, the basic rules are the same. You need to give your tattoo a lot of thought and you should work with your chosen artist to create something custom, that’s unique to you. You shouldn’t make spur of the moment decisions.

I hear a lot of people say that I’ll regret my blackwork. And they’ll tell me I can’t remove it or tattoo over it. They try to tell me that it’ll fade or that it’s damaged my skin. Yet, most of their assertions are completely wrong. If they had done their research and had first hand experience like me, they’d know most of their objections to blackwork and blackouts are blatantly wrong.

So, with this post, I’m aiming to set the record straight. Read on if you want to learn about why I don’t regret my blackout sleeve and why I likely never will!

Do I regret My Blackout Tattoo?

I’ve had my negative space blackout sleeve for almost 5 years. And I have no regrets. In fact, I absolutely love my blackout and lately, I’ve even thought about getting a blackout over the top of the colored tattoo on my left arm.

Now, I’ve explained why I got a blackout tattoo sleeve before. So, I won’t rehash that here. Instead, I’ll point out that my blackout tattoo wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. And I wasn’t following some social media trend.

Blackwork is one of the oldest styles of tattoo and it predates social media. Yet, ‘blackout’ is just the trendy term given to some forms of blackwork on social media. Social media may have helped increase blackwork’s visibility and the communities general knowledge of blackwork. But ‘blackouts’ aren’t a style born of social media.

Because blackouts aren’t a social media trend like yoyo’s, ‘fidget spinners’ or ‘Gangnam Style’, they aren’t simply going to disappear over night. There will always be blackwork artists creating stunning blackouts. I’ll always have the opportunity to get more or modify the ones I already have.

And here’s the key point to pay attention to; I could get more, or I could modify the ones I have. Go back and read that again and then read on. Because blackouts aren’t static, like most intricate colored tattoos. You can tattoo over a blackout and you can modify them. Blackouts to me are like the tattoo equivalent of a chalkboard.

Why I don’t Regret My Blackout Tattoo

When I was deciding on my own tattoo sleeve, I did a lot of research. I knew the placement would be my right arm, but I wasn’t sure of the style I’d get.

So, I spent a lot of time researching styles and the style that most appealed to me, was blackwork. And once I knew my next sleeve would be a blackout, I got in touch with my tattoo artist to work with him and create something unique.

I didn’t just copy something I’d seen on social media. And this is likely the primary reason I don’t regret my blackout sleeve. I don’t regret my tattoo choices because I put real thought into them. And I have them custom designed by my chosen artist.

I work closely with my own tattooist to create something that I’m proud to wear and that he’s proud to add to his portfolio of works. Each tattoo he does for me contains a little of each of us. And none of my tattoos are static. That is, they’re never ‘complete’.

Tip: If you’re contemplating getting a large blackwork or a blackout, you should include tattoo aftercare in your initial research. Due to the surface area an artist can cover in a single tattoo session, proper blackout tattoo aftercare is important.

You Can Tattoo Over A Blackout!

Contrary to popular opinion on the internet, you can tattoo over a blackout tattoo. White ink over a blackout is the most common. But there are some standout blackouts that have had a light base layer of white ink, followed by colored ink, giving a pastel type appearance.

Yet, moreover, if like me you started with a negative space blackout design, you can color in the negative spaces with colored tattoo inks. In my own design, I could choose to have the flowers colored. And I could choose to have the black portion added to with white ink overlay.

I could even choose to blast over the whole sleeve for a solid black appearance. And then go over that solid black with a new white design and then over the white with a color. The choices are infinite. And I look at blackout tattoos, like they’re the body modification equivalent of a chalkboard.

If you want to see just how variable a blackout tattoo can be, have a look at my Pinterest board below. Whenever I find a standout example of a blackout that goes beyond the ordinary, I pin them to that board and put the videos on YouTube.

My own blackout tattoo sessions.

Can You Remove A Blackout Tattoo?

Black tattoo inks are one of the easiest colors for FDA approved laser tattoo removal technologies to break down and remove. But with that said, size is often a factor when it comes to blackouts. Large tattoos require more sessions, cost more and are much more painful to remove.

When it comes to removing any tattoo, irrespective of the style or design, the size can make it prohibitively expensive and far too painful to contemplate removal. Tattoo removal is much more painful than actually getting the tattoo in the first place. And often, it costs much more.

Now, if you’ve properly researched your tattoo and placement before getting it, then it’s far less likely you’ll suffer tattoo regret and need to even think about tattoo removal. If you’ve researched you blackout before getting it and you’ve had a custom design created like me, you’ll already know of all the different ways mentioned above in this article, that you can transform your blackout tattoo if you’d like a change!

Note: There’s a rumor on the internet that tattoo removal ‘feels like being flicked by a rubber band’. Now, while pain is subjective and everybody has a different sensitivity to pain, tattoo removal creates a burning sensation. If you need to have a large tattoo removed, it’s not going to be pleasant, nor cheap. And you should use a numbing cream during the removal process.

Would I get Another Blackout? Absolutely!

If I had a time machine to go back in time 5 years, to when I was choosing my sleeve, I would indeed do it all over again. I would definitely still choose to get a blackout tattoo. And I am considering getting my colored sleeve on my left arm blacked out.

I’ve had my colored sleeve for almost 20 years. And for almost the last five years, I’ve had a colored sleeve and a blackout sleeve. I like my current look. But if I was to opt for change on my left arm, there’s less that can be done with a large colored tattoo. There’s less options for changing a large colored sleeve than there is for a blackout tattoo. And this is where the internet is wrong again.

There is less flexibility when it comes to altering a large colored tattoo than there is for changing a large blackwork. My options, if I want to change from my large colored sleeve, are either removal or blackout. And this is why you see a lot of heavily tattooed celebrities opting for blackouts, when they want to change their style.

Would I get My Elbow Covered In My Next Blackout?

If you’ve followed this site for a while and you’ve read my other articles on blackwork and blackout tattoos, then you know my tattooist loves tattooing elbows and armpits. And it’s why I opted to test a range of tattoo numbing creams when getting my blackout sleeve. You can read about the tattoo numbing creams tested on my blackout.

Yet, it’s enough to say that I have both my elbows tattooed. And that it’s not a pleasant spot to have tattooed. It’s also one of the spots that are said to fade quite quickly, which is why people often choose to avoid getting their elbows done.

But five years on and my blacked out elbow hasn’t begun to fade. And while it may need a touch up down the track, it certainly won’t need one anytime this decade.

In comparison, my colored elbow does show signs of fading, but not much. And I wouldn’t hesitate to have my elbow tattooed again if I was getting another blackout, as it makes for a more cohesive design.

My tattooist jdavila_artblack on Instagram

I actually find that my blackout sleeve garners the most compliments. And that it’s particularly popular with the opposite sex. While I love both my tattoo sleeves, even if my colored sleeve has been with me for many years now, I find that I prefer the blackout.

There’s something about the clean look with less intricate details and bold lines, that makes it look a little more classy. That is, if ‘classy’ is the right word. Yet, the blackout is definitely more popular among those of my friends, who know that I have tattoos.

I spend much of my time in cities with cooler climates and I regularly wear long sleeve shirts and jackets. But when I take the jacket off or roll up my sleeves, it’s the blackwork that most people focus on. And it’s the tattoo that others are most interested to know about.

Which Artist Created My Blackout Sleeve?

My artist is Jimmy Davila and he works from a tattoo studio called ‘SkinFactory‘, in Bonn Germany. I first met Jimmy while he was tattooing in Peru, but now he’s German and tattooing in Germany. He did my left tattoo sleeve in Peru and my right tattoo sleeve in Germany.

In the video below, I was interviewed by Melody Mendez on NBC about ‘tattoo tourism‘ and the places that I’ve been tattooed abroad. Now, during the interview I also discussed my artist Jimmy, where I met him and how long I’ve known him. Watch the video below or on NBC.

My interview with Melody Mendez about where I’ve been tattooed and the rise of ‘tattoo tourism’
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