Yes, a good tattoo artist will finish someone else’s work if necessary. Make sure there is a good reason for changing artists though. Changing artists can affect the continuity of a design. You should take the same steps when choosing a replacement artist as you do when choosing How to find the right tattoo artist for any tattoo.
It is probably a good idea to find someone who has a similar style. Check their work, make sure the studio is hygienically clean and talk to them about how they will approach the job and what to expect.
It is often harder to finish a tattoo someone else has started than to do the whole tattoo, so listen to the artist. They will tell you what is and isn’t possible.
Can I Switch Tattoo Artists Halfway Through A Tattoo?
Yes you can swap tattoo artists halfway through a tattoo, but it isn’t always a good idea. If you aren’t happy with the artwork or the demeanour of the tattooist, you are well within your rights to not return. Talk to the new artist about the problems you had with the original artist and most will work out a solution to gain you as a new customer and make you feel at ease.
First make a shortlist of potential artists and studios. Look at the work they have done and the styles the different artists do best. Most artists can do traditional line and block color tattoos, but finding someone to finish a watercolor tattoo may be more difficult.
How To Choose The Right Tattoo Artist
Choose someone who specialises in the kind of tattoo you are having done if possible. If you aren’t happy with the work of the original tattooist explain why. It may be that the new tattoo artist will see problems that you haven’t. In extreme cases it may be necessary to re-work the design to cover mistakes made. By talking to the new artist you will get a clear idea of what they can realistically do to solve the problem.
In our article How to Find the Right Tattoo Artist there are some hints and tips to help you.
Not all tattoos are salvageable. If the first artist has made a real mess of the tattoo, the only solution may be a seriously re-worked cover-up tattoo. This might not be what you want, but if the new artist advises it then you need to consider it.
If a black and grey tattoo has been done too dark there is little that can be done to lighten the design. White tattoo ink will not cover up black ink for very long. Whatever the reason white inks are possibly the pigment that degrades fastest. Some will last longer than others but even a good tattooist cant get white ink to last as long as darker colors do.
Don’t be frightened to get 2nd or even 3rd opinions. One artist may see a solution that another one hasn’t. Any thick lines or dark colors can’t be covered in lighter colors so they will be harder to work around. Think hard so that you make the right decisions.
Will Tattoo Artists Add To An Existing Tattoo?
Yes, it is very common for a tattoo artist to add to existing tattoos. A customer may have several arm tattoos and want them combining as a sleeve design. This is always easier if planned from the start, but there is usually some way to join existing tattoos.
Adding a similar subject and style will often be the easiest solution, but it isn’t the only one. Sometimes it can be better to frame an existing tattoo and then integrate the frame into the 2nd tattoo design to make them appear more as a single tattoo.
As always some tattoo artists will be better at different things so ask to see some examples of what they have done.
If a new tattoo is joining up to an old one the newer one may need “working in” to the older one. Re-coloring or relining the older tattoo can make it look much better. It is more likely to look like a complete piece rather than separate tattoos.
Do Tattoo Artists Ever Tag-Team their Work?
Sometimes tattoo artists may work together as a “tag team” but it is rare. The two artists would need to know each other well and even then it does create certain problems.
If the two artists are working on different areas they may physically want you in different positions. As a client, you want to be as comfortable as possible and this can be difficult if the artists want you in two different positions. Ink flows with gravity and getting two areas of the body in the right position can be difficult.
When two artists are working on the same piece it may mean you are subject to very long sittings. This can be difficult for some people. The cumulative effect of the pain can be very draining. In most cases the client will need a break at some point and this can interrupt the flow of the artists.
A tattoo artists time is valuable. They don’t want to be sat around waiting for another artist to finish one section before they can start another.
There can be several reasons why you might need one artist to finish another artists work. Maybe the original tattooist has retired or you simply weren’t happy with their work. It could be you or the tattooist has moved and travelling that far isn’t possible.
Whatever the reason for changing artists, choose carefully. Try to appreciate the problems. Finishing someone else’s work can be more difficult and time consuming than doing the tattoo from the start. The right artist is most often not the first one you find.