BY: BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
So you’ve decided that you want a tattoo to honour your furry pal, a song that changed your life or your mom’s favourite flower – now you have to decide colours and design. While ultimately you will get out of a tattoo what care you put into it, there are some choices you have when thinking about the long term durability of your piece.
Ironically tattoos are held in place by the body’s effort to treat the trauma that the needles cause. When you get a tattoo your immune system sends macrophage cells to treat the wound. These eat the ink and get stuck in the lower level of skin called the dermis making the tattoo stay. Overtime tattoos fade as the body keeps working to dispose of the foreign ink inside it, the effect being eventually a less clear and vibrant image. In order to best combat that process choose a style and colours that have been proven to be most durable over time.
There’s a saying in the tattoo world – “If it’s bold it holds.” Rebecca Fife, a Toronto-based tattoo artist won’t work with small needles for that reason. Her work is mostly American traditional, a classic style that was built to last. This style consists of thick black lines used to keep the basic colours in place. Due to the use of thick needles this style of tattoo has proved to be the most durable over time. Developing from this style is neo-traditional. Similar in build, these tattoos use a wider colour palette and have a more illustrative appearance to them than their influencer. These tattoos are still a safe bet for durability due to their boldness and use of black ink.
Geometric and dot work style tattoos are commonly made with small needles which makes them an unlikely candidate for durability, however they don’t have to be. If you opt for thicker lines/dots the piece will last longer, however that might mean compromising slightly on the delicate minimalist look that they are popular for.
A common style choice right now are whimsical watercolour tattoos. This style uses many soft colours with unclear outlines or definition between them. “I’ve seen watercolour tattoos aged 10 years and they kind of just look like vomit now,” said Fife. This is largely due to the lack of black ink which allows the colours to spread and blur. Instead of a watercolour tattoo Fife suggests you opt for a more illustrative style which can create the same softness with a little more structure and definition.
Choosing colours for your tattoo will vary person to person depending on the pigment of your skin. With the advancement of technology, ink has vastly improved but to be safe stick to the saying – bold holds.