You are here:

Tattoos/Retouching an existing tattoo


USMC bulldog
USMC bulldog  
I had this tattoo done 20 years ago when I was in the Marine Corps.  It is very sentimental to me and I would like it retouched, not covered, however I am NOT opposed to adding on to it.
  I have seen one recommended artist in my area.  I have a second appt with him tonight and an appt with another artist later this week.  
 The first person I saw told me that this cant successfully be retouched because within a year all of the ink will bleed together and look muddled.    
 This tattoo is aprox. 4 x 4 inches and is located on my left thigh.  Should I continue my search until someone tells me what I want to hear?  I fear this tattoo artist may be telling me this because of his fear of it being TOO detailed for him.  I also fear that I'll fall prey to an artist that is going to tell me what I want to hear just to get the job.
 The tattoo was of a Marine Corps bull dog with a purple bow on her head, spiked collar and standing in a pool of blood.  The USMC was pink and faded into purple.  
 Can you please help answer my question and also possibly recommend an artist that excels in retouching existing tattoos in the Albany NY area.  I'm looking online but I'm not finding conclusive answers for my questions regarding the tattoo AND an artist that can achieve this.  Thank you so much in advanced!!


The artist you talked to is spot on, with one possible exception. If you redo the lines on this tattoo, it will get very muddy.

It is like this: when you paint the pigment particles are kept in place with oil or acrylic and don't move on the canvas. In tattooing, the pigment is in a medium/vehicle generally made up of water, alcohol, and glycerin. As the tattoo heals the medium is absorbed and flushed out of the body leaving the little pigment particles floating around in your skin without anything to keep them in place. Also, the skin cells are constantly moving to the surface and sloughing off. So the smaller the space between the lines, the more blurry the tattoo will be over time as the lines spread.

So how can you refresh an old tattoo? Just redoing the color: it likely won't cause these problems and may be a good way to update it without the muddiness. I for sure wouldn't reline it, and really the lines look dark enough as it is and some new color will dress it up nicely.

Try visiting shops and looking at portfolios of artists paying special attention to reworked tattoos and cover ups.

Good Luck!
Sasha Merritt
Dragonfly Ink


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Sasha Merritt - Professional Tattoo and Cosmetic Artist


Tattoo, Permanent cosmetics, Needling, Areola Repigmentation, Tattooing over Scars


I've been tattooing professionally for 10 years in shops in the US and England. I now own Dragonfly Ink in San Francisco, CA

Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals

Apprenticed at Black and Blue Tattoo Specialized training and certifications: Cross-contamination Prevention SofTaps Micropigmentation Areola Repigmentation Skin Needling University Art Courses

©2017 All rights reserved.