Can You Tell the Difference?

For people outside of the tattoo industry, it may be difficult to tell if a tattoo is bad. Believe it or not, but many people out there don't know that their tattoo is poorly done. However, for those of you that want to ensure that you go to an artistically and technically qualified artist, then its time you learned from the experts at INKED. We've narrowed down our top 9 ways of telling if a tattoo is good or bad—and we've given detailed examples of each category. Take a look at our in depth guide in the gallery below and let us know if you have a good eye for spotting bad ink in the comments section on Facebook. 

@stevebutchertattoos

@stevebutchertattoos

1. Saturation 

A good tattoo should have fully saturated black, color and shading. When it heals, there shouldn't be gaps or shapes in the tattoo that indicate it wasn't filled in properly. 

2. Linework

The lines of a tattoo should be crisp, straight and consistent throughout the tattoo. Wonky lines are a huge indication of an inexperienced artist.

3. Composition

Composition relates to the flow of different items within a tattoo. The different aspects of the tattoo should fit together seamlessly and it takes an experienced artist to understand how to arrange the different elements of a tattoo.

@jakconnollyart

@jakconnollyart

4. Healing

How a tattoo heals is a huge indication of a good tattoo vs a bad tattoo. If a tattoo scars, blows out or straight up falls out of the skin—it's a bad tattoo.

5. Placement

It doesn't take an expert to tell if a tattoo is crooked, but many people outside of the industry may not recognize the rules surrounding placement. First off, if a tattoo is a face it should always be facing in toward the body vs away. Second, text should appear upside down to the wearer. Third, you should never put a tiny tattoo in the middle of a large canvas. 

6. Contrast

A tattoo needs a variety of tones in order for it to appear multidimensional and that its jumping off the skin. If the tattoo has bad contrast, it will appear flat and washed out.

@popotattoo

@popotattoo

7. Proportion

Faces and body parts can be very tricky, because one wrong move can ruin a perfectly good drawing. It takes years of practice to create a realistic portrait, so enlist the best of the best for this task. 

@victor_chil

@victor_chil

8. Detail

Details can take an average tattoo to an extraordinary tattoo very quickly. You want to feel like you can run your fingers over a tattoo and feel every single detail—whether it be the texture of the hair or the consistency of the eyes. 

9. Legibility

Last, but not least, you should be able to look at your tattoo and know exactly what it is or what it says. If you look at a tattoo and say to yourself, "what is that?" then its probably not a very good tattoo.