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Inked in White
July 7, 2014 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Gorgeous White Ink Tattoos Pictures of white ink tats.

See also: Should you get a white ink tattoo? for more pics and additional commentary.
posted by Michele in California (28 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't like being a negative Nancy but those all look very skin diseasey to me.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 3:25 PM on July 7 [12 favorites]


Some of these are really beautiful. I especially like the ones that look like lace. But man, they look just awful right after they've been done. Let it heal, then photograph, yikes.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:29 PM on July 7 [7 favorites]


I thought some of the lacy ones were pretty spectacular.
posted by leahwrenn at 3:32 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


The subtle ones are quite lovely, but man it does look like something that goes wrong even easier and ages even worse than a regular tattoo.
posted by tavella at 3:36 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if this is true for all good tattoo shops, but at least one reputable Portland shop (Atlas) just will not do white ink at all. I was told that the fact that white ink fades so quickly means that the work gets very blurry very fast-- and that part of the reason you see so many white ink tats photographed unhealed like that is that a lot of the time once they're healed all the detail is lost. They did offer to refer me to someone local if I really wanted white, but I figured that I should be guided by the pros and went with black ink instead.
posted by Kpele at 3:37 PM on July 7 [8 favorites]


I don't like being a negative Nancy but those all look very skin diseasey to me.

That was my first reaction too, but then I thought that most of the pictures seemed like they were taken within a day or so of getting the tattoo, when skin is irritated and red and "what did you do to me" still.
posted by sweetkid at 3:38 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


It looks like they've been embossed...
posted by jim in austin at 3:48 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


Of all the Harry Potter tattoos I have seen, this is probably my favourite.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:08 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


The first link is down... and so is downforeveryoneorjustme!
I've got dark skin and always wondered how one would look on me.
posted by artof.mulata at 4:34 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


It reminds me of nothing so much as tanning stencils.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:36 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I kinda like the potential of white ink, but I too, have had tattoo artist refuse to use white ink when I had a Newfie flag put on my arm, so ... :/ temporary art I guess?
posted by edgeways at 5:03 PM on July 7


I have two tattoos with at least some white ink (the symbol from the Tintin book Cigars of the Pharaoh and the Magic: the Gathering symbol). Neither of the photos came out great (and you can tell I'm overdue on shaving my legs in the second one) but I really like them; people often think the Tintin symbol is a brand rather than a tattoo and it looks different enough to feel special. I also like that it's subtle enough to hide pretty easily but I always know it's there. That said, I'm pretty pale and apparently that's a big help for white ink tattoos. I do really like white ink tattoos in general; I think when they're done well, they can be absolutely stunning.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:24 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


I think when they're done well, they can be absolutely stunning.

I agree. I've seen a few amazing ones but more of the blurry variety. I'm not sure if that's luck of the draw or more artist skill. I have a tattoo that could probably benefit from some white ink in one area, but I've been slow to follow up on that because of the wide variation in quality I've seen.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:17 PM on July 7


> people often think the Tintin symbol is a brand rather than a tattoo

My initial reaction was that the OP looked like scarification.

They look great against darker skin too, going by that one picture. I wonder if the fading issue is somewhat mitigated in that case.
posted by postcommunism at 6:30 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]


I keep wavering over whether to go ahead with a tattoo I've planned out (a little albino axolotl on my shoulder) since it seems like white ink could either look great or break down in a few months' time into a yellowish, in distinct disaster.

Are the variable results down to inconsistent ink formulations as much as the tattooist's skill?
posted by Merzbau at 7:17 PM on July 7


It's weird how almost none of the pictures are of people with darker skin. IMO white ink looks good on dark-skinned people for the same reason dark ink looks good on light-skinned people. I sort of thought that was the main point of white ink.
posted by threeants at 7:19 PM on July 7


I hate to be one of those "it a shop" assholes, but some of these look photoshopped. "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" and the rose on the woman's inner arm, specifically.

Also all those hand, finger, and wrist tattoos are going to be unreadable mush in a couple years. Especially in white. Jeez.
posted by Sara C. at 7:19 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


It's weird how almost none of the pictures are of people with darker skin. IMO white ink looks good on dark-skinned people for the same reason dark ink looks good on light-skinned people. I sort of thought that was the main point of white ink.

What a tattoo artist told me is that, since the ink goes under the skin, the paler the layers of skin the better you can see it. I agree that in theory it would be beautiful, and the one in the link looks absolutely lovely, but apparently white ink is just significantly harder to see when it's under layers of darker sink which is a damn shame.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:26 PM on July 7


I have a white ink tattoo, and it's not faded at all in the 18 years I've had it. OTOH, I'm a Latina, so it's never really been white, more of a beige.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:47 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


Jodi Beggs mentioned in a recent Story Collider episode that color tattoos are often outlined in black because the carbon in black ink makes it less susceptible to blurring.
posted by unmake at 9:00 PM on July 7


"The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter" and the rose on the woman's inner arm, specifically.

Yeah, the rose one looks like stock photo with a very unlikely and unconvincing mask job in a very improbable place, and weirdly free of distortion from the position and any trace of shading or skin detail. The "Heart" wrist quote as well as the dove emblem look like photoshop emboss filter... there's no trace of white ink for one thing, and for another they look machine rendered, not hand executed.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:24 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, on pale people these just kinda look like dermatographia to me, but the one photo featuring darker skin looked phenomenal.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:03 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I have a white ink tattoo of constellations that covers my entire back. It has held up very well, although when I get tan in the summers it turns a bit beige and when I fade to my natural pale it looks white again.

People never know what it is and for some reason assume at first it's a network of intentional scarring. Then they ask to touch it/me. Doctors are funny too - mid exam they'll try to casually work in "Wait what is going on with your back?" Unintentional side effects of getting a tattoo meant to be subtle.
posted by nile_red at 2:32 AM on July 8 [3 favorites]


I don't get the quote "The heart a lonely is hunter"...?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:43 AM on July 8


I don't get the quote "The heart a lonely is hunter"...?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:43 AM


Carson McCullers wrote a book with the title "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter". She lifted the title from the poem "The Lonely Hunter" by Fiona MacLeod. McCuller's book takes some major themes and ideas from the poem: the importance of music, the idea of a "lost-loved human face," and themes of isolation and death.

I think the person with that tattoo just decided to break it the phrase up so that one reads it up-down instead of across.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:07 AM on July 8


I think white ink tattoos are often really beautiful - those constellations are gorgeous, nile_red!

I do wonder how well they wear, and keep thinking that someday when I get around to another tattoo, I need to do some proper research about that.
posted by Stacey at 8:51 AM on July 8


> I'm not sure if this is true for all good tattoo shops, but at least one reputable Portland shop (Atlas) just will not do white ink at all

Same for Slave to the Needle, in Seattle:

Q. Will your artists do completely white tattoos?

A. All of our artists have a strict policy of not doing all-white tattoos. The only time they will use white is for small highlights in large tattoos. Our artists are very concerned that all tattoo work that leaves our shop is top-notch and that the tattoos are done in a way that maintains this quality over time, for these reasons our artists are not comfortable doing white tattoos. All-white, mostly-white tattoos, and tattoos that are not outlined in black often look like a poorly done tattoo and the design/image/text is indiscernible or becomes indiscernible over time. White ink on its own does not convey detail, serve as a good representation of an artist’s skill and ability, nor does it withstand the test of time or sun exposure.

posted by The corpse in the library at 10:12 AM on July 8


In regards to the 'heart is a lonely hunter' tattoo -- the 'lonely' does look photoshoppy, but if you look at the 'heart' on the left, the h seems to shift with the shadow/line of muscle, and the t fades out as you would expect as it wraps around. So while it could be photoshop, I wouldn't say it's obviously so.
posted by tavella at 10:33 AM on July 8


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