White ink tattoos have become an increasingly popular tattoo style in recent years, but tend to split opinions. Some find the ghostly pale images that can be created a subtle and unique expression of art, whereas others find them tasteless or unappealing. Inkluded‘s Bethan Ackerley wanted to tell us her views.
Photo: Instagram – Courtney Vice [@mousesickles], Hard Rocs Tattoo, Brandon, Mississippi
Before I sat down to research this style, I wasn’t sure what I thought about white ink tattoos. The first design I ever saw was a sun-bleached mess, barely recognisable as a tattoo and actually just looked like a scar (though this is part of the appeal, for some).
Some tattoo artists would have agreed with me. White ink tattoos are notoriously tricky to match to an individual’s skin tone, particularly for very pale and very dark skin. Clear skin is also important, as freckles will stand out particularly strongly against a white ink tattoo.
It’s important to acknowledge the difficulties surrounding the white ink style. White ink lacks the opacity of black or darker inks, creating inconsistencies in the strength of the colour. Healing takes longer and white ink also fades more quickly than other styles, as they are more susceptible to sunlight, and can turn yellow with time.
However, there are notable advantages to a white ink tattoo. On the right skin-tone, with the right design, it can be a stunning effect, a barely-there nod to some beautiful artwork that can only be seen when looking closely. The subtlety of white ink makes it a discreet option for those who want a tattoo. Though some see white ink tattoos as inferior to darker styles, the variety of personal tastes and techniques that modern tattoo art involves is part of what makes tattooing such a beautiful medium.
White ink tattoos have the potential to be truly beautiful when done right. Ultimately, the success of white ink is much like that of any other style – dependent on the skill of the artist and the beauty of the design. If you’re thinking about getting a white ink tattoo, be aware of the potential problems involved and make sure you choose the right artist with a strong portfolio in white ink tattoos. Like with any tattoo, the more time you invest researching and planning your art, the more you’ll love it.
Share your white ink tattoos with us on the Inkluded Facebook page.
Words: Bethan Ackerley
Photography: As credited above