If there is a trend that has grown in the last five years in the art of body modifications, these are watercolor tattoos. This tattoo style takes its name from the imitation of a free form of current painting method and its diaphanous quality. Watercolor tattoos are therefore the usual lot of tattoos, which are generally formed of thick black lines. And although they are very attractive, they still received some criticism: some say that they do not resist as well to the passage of time as other tattoos, others that this denomination is all too often used by tattoo artists without experience at the level of this particular style. Anyway, you should know a little better on the subject before you get an idea and consider acquiring (or not) a tattoo-watercolor.
Meaning of watercolor tattoos
Watercolor tattoos can simply represent any image or symbol, which is why their meaning is varied. The most common watercolor tattoos, however, generally represent colorful birds or insects. The watercolor style usually shows the lines of these so that the rendering is better.
Butterflies are particularly popular. These tattoos of watercolor butterflies that represent life, hope, metamorphosis and rebirth are seen quite often. Another specific butterfly tattoo that is quite popular in the watercolor style is where a semicolon has been incorporated into the image: this tattoo represents help and hope for those who have survived a suicide.
Abstract art is very common in watercolor tattoos. The streaks or splashes of color unfold in very attractive configurations, in order to capture a sensation, a thought or even an opinion. Some watercolor tattooists rely on the choice of colors themselves to express most of the idea: an abstract tattoo that represents a rainbow of ink splatters can be used to show your support for the rights of homosexuals and transsexuals, for example.
Types of watercolor tattoos
Even in the world of watercolor tattoos, there are far too many different styles for us to make an exhaustive list. That said, we can probably try to reduce them to two main types of tattoos, determined by an essential difference: those who have a base in black ink and those who do not have one.
Tattoos of watercolors without black base
Watercolor tattoos without a black ink base usually do not have black lines (which does not mean that another color can not be used to draw these lines). The absence of black on these works gives them a particularly realistic watercolor appearance. The colors almost seem to melt into the skin and disappear at the limits of the drawing (as far as it is possible to distinguish them). This type of watercolor tattoos often has subtle discolourations of hues that make their limits almost indistinguishable.
Good examples of this type of watercolor tattoo are usually works that rely on the vibration of colors as essential attractive point. Some of the most remarkable tattoos offer such a combination of colors that it is difficult to imagine that this is really a tattoo and not a body painting.
Tattoos of watercolors with a black ink base
The other main type of watercolor tattoos include those with a black base. We mean the existence of a kind of line of work or a shadow base in the development of this tattoo. The colors are of course then applied above this base or used to fill the free spaces that exist between the lines. What matters is that there is something in the tattoo that can be considered a black skeleton or a black line below the colors.
Is the inclusion of such a base important? At many levels, yes. Tattoos that use this particular style can achieve greater contrast in effects than those that do not have a black base, thanks to the difference between bolder black elements and the colors themselves. Many tattoos also think that these tattoos tend to age better, since their black base does not fade as fast as the colored elements.
There are currently at least two ways to use black ink in a watercolor tattoo. Most tattoo artists will tend to make the edges quite simple because the world does not have the talent or the experience to use the other method, which is to incorporate the black naturally in colors and colors. gradations of the tattoo.
Ideal place for watercolor tattoos
The place where you will place your watercolor tattoo depends on what you can afford to do. Some people are limited in their practice of body art by their social position or profession. For them, tattoos can only be placed in places that can be easily covered, if necessary. Many people of this type end up placing their tattoos on the torso, around the hips or on the legs.
When choosing where to place yours, remember this: watercolor tattoos, especially those without black foundations, will fade a little faster than other tattoos. The use of translucent colors, the discolored style and the general appearance of the work make this type of tattoo age quickly enough if you do not take care of it.
This means that you will need to protect it as much as possible from the sun (because sunlight bleaches the tattoo ink) and have it retouched as soon as it is needed. For this reason, you may prefer to choose a place that you can easily cover when you are in the light of day.
What you should not forget about watercolor tattoos is that they look better on lighter skin, like many colored tattoos. This is because the translucent nature of the tattoo ink seems even brighter than normal in this type of tattoos. This is again the reason why choosing a covered area (or untanned) of your skin to place your tattoo will guarantee you better results.
Preparation tips before your tattoo session
When it’s time to get a watercolor tattoo done, follow the checklist below to make sure you’re ready:
- Eat a hearty meal before you go to the session, be it a hearty breakfast, a full lunch or a good dinner. Your body will thank you for providing this fuel as soon as the tattoo starts, because it will need energy to heal the tattoo.
- Wear clothes that are easy to put on or take off. If your tattoo is planned on your back, for example, wearing something that you can remove and put on easily will add a lot to your comfort.
- Will your tattoo session be very long? The artist can inform you on this point and you will be able, if necessary, to foresee something to pass the time. A good book can take a while, but you can also bring a device with a good music selection.
- You would probably like everything to be ready, even before being tattooed, for the necessary care following the tattoo. Some tattoo artists will provide you with a post-session care kit, others expect you to plan the necessary products yourself. Ask your tattoo artist what you should buy, such as antibacterial creams or gauze.
Estimation of realization costs and standard prices of watercolor tattoos
Prices for watercolor tattoos usually vary according to the design and size of the watercolor. If you have a small design in mind, with only two or three colors, you can probably get away with € 50 or € 60. If you want a complex tattoo, with many colors and gradient effects, you will definitely have to pay several hundred euros.
Also remember that not all tattoo artists are able to make watercolor tattoos. Many say that if – and they are probably right, but they do not do it well at all. Watercolor tattoos require a certain touch and a particular artistic style.
This is why we advise you to ask the tattoo artist to show you some examples of his watercolor tattoos before hiring him. The best artists will ask you a high price for their work – a piece about 10 centimeters wide can be worth around € 400, depending on the drawing – but at least you will be sure of the true quality of your tattoo.
Maintenance Tips for Watercolor Tattoos
As we pointed out earlier, taking care of a watercolor tattoo is mainly about protecting it from the bleaching effects of the sun. Covering it with a garment is one way to do it, but you can simply stay in the shade.
However, consider the reverberation of light. Even if you are sitting under a parasol at the beach, if your tattoo is exposed in the open, it will be technically still affected by the sun’s rays, even if they will be less powerful than if you just placed below.
The best is probably to always have sunscreen with you if you live in a sunny place. Put a little on the tattoo as often as possible, as soon as it heals and you know you’re going out. This should significantly slow the discoloration.
If you follow the advice we gave you to keep the purity of your watercolor tattoo as long as possible, there is no reason for it not to age as well as the other tattoos you wear. Some four-year-old watercolor tattoos still have a good rendering and need only a few minor touches. But as it is still a fairly new style, there are not enough old tattoos to give us a definitive idea of their longevity. In summary, the debate on the longevity of watercolor tattoos remains open, but that on their attractiveness is not discussed. And you what do you think? Do you think they will age well? Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment and join the conversation!