We're all familiar with how the tattoos of our favorite artists look when they're fresh and new. But, it can be a mystery what the tattoos will look like after one year, five years or even 10 years time. Showing healed tattoos on social media is extremely important, because it gives clients a realistic idea of what the work will look like in the long run. The bright and shiny tattoos you see so often on Instagram are temporary and it's the settled in work we live with for the rest of our lives.

This is why the Instagram page @healedvsfresh was created, to showcase tattoos in their permanent state across a variety of styles and subject matters. We reached out to the owner of the page to find out why they started it up in the first place, why they believe showing healed work is important and what clients should be mindful of when selecting a tattoo artist from social media.

What made you decide to start (or restart) the page?

I started the page back in 2016, but I wasn’t getting enough submissions. I honestly kind of forgot about the page for a while—until a friend tagged the project on another healed site. Almost overnight it exploded. We got some shout outs from some incredible heavy hitters (especially people I look up to in this industry) and then the page REALLY took off.

I started the page to show truth. So many clients have unrealistic expectations due to Photoshop warriors. You can’t really hide behind a healed photo. Either it’s there or it’s not. I’ve been very fortunate to have solid artists submit solid work. Especially from the other side of the globe. The page has evolved and hopefully will continue to do so.

Why is showing healed work important to the tattoo industry?

I personally believe showing the clients healed work will better give them an idea of what to expect in the long run. It’s turned into a learning experience for a lot of us in the industry. It also shows pitfalls here and there, which can educate us further and benefit the industry. I’m trying to cover most styles and types of work done properly to show diverse examples. Clients send me messages requesting to see certain styles: watercolor, single needle, cross stitch etc. So, I do my best to keep up.

Why is it that some tattoos heal better than others?

What I’ve noticed is this depends on application, either it’s earlier work or they never got a handle on their tools. But, at the same time, I also believe the client has a responsibility to listen to the individual artist's aftercare. If they abandon that and go with what “they know” it could also have an impact on the heal. Style and subject matter will always shine through if done properly and the tattoo is taken care of by the collectors.

Do you think social media deceives clients in how tattoos will look in real life/ the long run?

It can for sure. In this age of Photoshop touch ups, I think it’s getting to a point of false advertising. That’s not to say there aren’t true artists out there showing amazing work without filters. But I feel the line is getting blurred due to the saturation of Photoshop jockeys. You can’t Photoshop a healed photo without it being super obvious, so that shit don’t work here.

What should a healed tattoo look like?

Well, that’s tough. It depends on style and purposeful application. Through this page, I’ve noticed some work looks way better after it heals. Then there are some tattoos that settle and look great, but could never live up to the day they were done. A healed tattoo should have clean, consistent lines and smooth shading with no holidays. But it also has to do with a client's skin tone—if you have olive or darker skin tones, color will ALWAYS look slightly different when healed.

Why should clients want to see healed tattoos?

My goal is to post multiple styles and techniques. A client hopefully can scroll through the page and see a representation of something close to what they may want, and then know how it should look. Whether it be watercolor, white outline, fingers, hands, palms etc. I hope to create a page that can show the client a real representation of what they may want, so they are well informed before making a permanent choice.