Tattooing requires overall drawing and illustrative skills, an advanced understanding of lines and shading and the ability to deal with people from all walks of life. Part designer, part salesman, part counselor, part businessman (or woman) and part bedside physician, a professional tattoo artist is accustomed to wearing many hats. When it comes to cover-ups, however, it's creativity and the ability to look at problem from multiple angles that rules the day. Most cover ups present a challenge, and one not easily met by simply providing a larger tattoo. Some clients want only portions of the previous work covered while others want the entire work removed.
The truth regarding cover ups is that most people who enter a shop are more concerned with removing all traces of the previous work, for whatever reasons, than what will be used to cover it. You, as the artist, need to look at it from a different perspective. Take the clients ideas into account and present them with all the options you can. Many clients will have some idea of what design they want to use for cover up, which makes your job that much easier.
Still, it's important to realize that from a client's perspective, a cover up is exactly what it sounds like. They often make choices without considering what can be done to incorporate the old design and still remove the offending parts. Sometimes talking with them about all their options will result in something they are much happier with and that you can be proud of. For those without any idea of what to use for a cover up, you'll need to get an idea of their tastes and then use your experience to make recommendations. Let them look through your books and wall art and ask them to come up with a few choices. None of them may be valid for the cover up, but it will give you an idea of what they like and will ultimately go for.
Name removals are a type of cover up that comes up often, and something you'll have to deal with on a fairly regular basis. For block letters, try to mentally superimpose different design patterns over the letters. For cursives, look for breaks in the wording. An area of bare skin, no matter how thin, between words or letters can open up the possibilities tenfold.
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