Worst Types of Tattoos People Ask for, According to Artists

  • Several professional tattoo artists told Insider which body-art designs they don’t enjoy inking.
  • Some tattoos often age poorly, such as tiny finger pieces or white-pigment designs.
  • You can provide reference photos, but don’t ask a tattooer to copy another artist’s work.

Tattoos can be highly personal and expressive pieces of art, but that doesn’t mean artists love all designs equally.

Insider asked professional tattooers which designs they prefer not to ink and why.

Inner-lip tattoos can be frustrating to ink 

Monikka Velvet, tattoo artist and co-owner of the private studio La Ultima Flor, told Insider that she avoids giving inner-lip tattoos.

“Inside the lip is a tough area to tattoo in general,” Velvet said. “About 80% of the time, they don’t stick and fade away.”

These tattoos tend to fade quickly due to the rapid turnover of skin cells inside of the mouth.

Tiny finger tattoos aren’t always a hit with artists

person stirring a coffee with a raindrop finger tattoo


Finger tattoos tend to fade quickly.

cassieleedhan/Getty Images

Tattoo artist Christian Dietkus Lord, the founder of Lord BKNY, told Insider that he dislikes giving clients tiny finger tattoos, especially if they don’t “have a bold concept or a specific reason for the design to be on your fingers.”

Finger tattoos often fade quickly due to daily occurrences, like handwashing and sun exposure.

Some popular anchor designs are a bit ironic 

Tattoo artist and owner of Tarot Tattoo Aria-Blair Bottorff said she doesn’t like inking floating anchors with the words “I refuse to sink.”

“This tattoo trend is everywhere, and though the statement is motivational, artists find it hard to ignore the fact that the whole purpose of an anchor is to sink,” she said.

Bottorff suggested opting for other on-theme designs that incorporate paper airplanes, hot-air balloons, rubber ducks, boats, blimps, or other floating objects.

Getting a tattoo of your partner’s name can be risky

Some artists try to dissuade clients from getting their partner’s name tattooed.

“Name tattoos can seem like the ultimate sign of commitment, but they almost always become a source of regret,” Bottorff said. “We don’t even recommend this to married couples.”

You may want to instead consider a small design that can be covered or double as a symbolic image.

Tattooers often refuse to use another artist’s work

red haired tattoo artist inking a client


It’s OK to show another artist’s work for inspiration, though.

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Body art is very individual, so plagiarizing another artist’s design can make tattooers very uncomfortable.

“Clients come in all the time asking for a tattoo designed by another artist, and that’s a definite no-no in the world of tattooing,” Velvet said.

The pro suggested letting your artist create a design inspired by artwork that you love rather than asking for a direct copy.

Some artists don’t love inking symbols from popular series 

Lord said he’d rather not tattoo the Deathly Hallows symbol from “Harry Potter,” a triangle enclosing a circle bisected by a vertical line.

“I really don’t like giving this tattoo, in part because people come in thinking that the symbol is a real occult symbol or some sort of sacred geometry, and it’s not,” Lord said, adding that he also dislikes inking the Batman and Wonder Woman logos.

Racial-hate tattoos are unacceptable 

Most artists will refuse service if someone asks for a tattoo that includes racist symbols.

“If you come in asking for either overt or subtle racist nonsense, it’s an immediate and hard no,” Bottorff said. “Absolutely not, and there’s the door.”

Bottorff explained that since white-supremacy symbols are constantly evolving, many tattoo artists continually research hate symbols to make sure they don’t inadvertently promote racism.

Intricate tattoos with many colors require a lot of upkeep

tattoo artist with black gloves giving colorful floral tattoo


Colorful tattoos may need retouching every few years.

George Dolgikh/Shutterstock

Highly detailed, intricate designs that include several colors may look good at first but require constant upkeep, according to cosmetic tattoo artist Christopher Drummond of PFRANKMD.

“I don’t like inking intricate tattoos with many colors because they tend to fade and blur more than black-outline tattoos, which are what I prefer to ink,” Drummond said.

Elaborate and colorful body art will likely need retouching every few years.

Fluorescent-dye tattoos can be harder to change in the future

Drummond told Insider that he doesn’t like inking tattoos with fluorescent dyes.

“Fluorescent dyes are the hardest to fade if you ever want the tattoo removed,” the artist explained, adding that black ink is the easiest pigment to remove with a laser.

White-pigment tattoos may not age well

Lighter pigments can add depth and gloss to black or colored tattoos, but some clients purely ask for white ink.

“People don’t realize those cool white tattoos they see online are usually photoshopped,” Bottorff said. “White pigment looks great on the day of application, but usually fades very quickly.”

White ink is highly sensitive to UV exposure. Plus Bottorff warned that these tattoos can sometimes leave behind discoloration rather than disappearing completely.

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