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Body Tattoo – blog about tattoo art

Body Tattoo – blog about tattoo art
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QOW: Why Some Tattoos Age Better Than Others

March 25th, 2009
Question: “Why are some tattoos so sharp and others are so fuzzy? My late wife had a
rose tattooed on her breast and 3 years later when she died it was still as sharp as
if it had been painted on. The black outline was still crisp, and the greens, reds,
oranges and yellows were still unfaded. On the other hand those blue navy tattoos
look like water paint that has been left out in the rain.”


Answer: There are actually many reasons why some tattoos may fare better or worse than others over time. One of those reasons is the depth in which the ink was placed. The deeper the ink goes, the more fuzziness and spreading is likely to result.


Another possibility is changes in the body of the person wearing the tattoo. Weight gain, weight loss, and just natural aging (which also results in the thinning of the skin) can all contribute to a gradual loss of sharpness.


The most common cause of tattoo ink spread is time. A slight increase in line thickness is not only normal but expected, which is why most tattoo artists won’t do finely detailed designs with lines close together because those lines will eventually spread and mash together, creating an ugly blob. Your wife only had her tattoo for 3 years and even thought it still looked great, I’ll bet that if you compared it closely with a photo of when it was fresh and new, you would find some softening of the lines.


The blue navy tattoos you’ve seen are typically at least 30 to 50 years old. Not only does time factor into the appearance of those tattoos, but the quality of ink and the artistry back then all played a part. The finesse required for fine, detailed tattoos was non-existent during the earlier days of assembly-line tattooing. Tattoo inks were also crude and black ink contained bits of metal that oxidized over time and turned different hues of green and blue. So, those old blue Navy tattoos you’re seeing were black at first, but they come from a time when tattooing was much less about art and more about making a statement.

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