Blackout Tattoos: Now That’s Some Serious Ink


A tattooist sporting a blackout tattoo on her left arm makes a tattoo during the China Tattoo Convention 2015. ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images“A tattooist sporting a blackout tattoo on her left arm makes a tattoo during the China Tattoo Convention 2015. ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

The practice of tattooing is thousands of years old. You’ve likely seen all sorts of different styles of tattoos, from abstract art to complicated patterns to recognizable (and often copyrighted or trademarked) icons. 

Maybe you’ve seen — or even received — a tattoo intended to cover up an older design. The most direct approach is to have a tattoo artist black out the area of a tattoo, turning the skin a solid, dark color. This is a blackout tattoo.

Today, blackout tattoos aren’t just being used to cover up older art. They’re their own type of tattoos, sought by people who want to make a bold statement. The process to get a blackout tattoo depends upon the size, shape and location, but it can take multiple visits to the tattoo parlor, with each session lasting several hours.

The one below, a blackout sleeve, seems to have taken about a dozen sessions of two to three hours. 

Whether or not you’d get one, you have to admit the effects are striking. Even a cursory image search will turn up some dramatic pieces that pack a visual wallop.

And check out those cool edges.

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