How Long Will Watercolor Tattoos Last?

By Joel Wright - 2019

How long do watercolor tattoos last? This is a frequently asked, and searched question and it has been for a number of years. The common misconceptions about watercolor tattoos are that they are somehow different than a normal tattoo.

First off, I've tattooed since 1999.  I've seen how all tattoos fade a little  over time.  There is no particular tattooing style that is exempt from that fact.  

It's not uncommon for all tattoos to need a touch up at some point. Thats the baseline fact that I will use a the foundation to base my perspective of the fading discussion.  Everything fades in time. If you disagree with me. wait a little while and see!

That being said a lasting tattoo is totally possible as long as you realize that nothing last forever.  I don't want you to have unrealistic expectation.  

watercolor tattoo zen enso

A Watercolor Tattoo by Joel Wright Freshly Completed!

The truth about how long watercolor tattoos last is that watercolor tattoos are just a style a tattoo artist can work in. There is no huge difference in the high quality inks like Fusion for a watercolor style. 

The machine I use is Cheyenne Hawk Pen.  Watercolor tattoos last as long as any other tattoo based on the materials used.  Naturally, I use what I consider to be the best. 

All tattoo artists work in slightly different techniques. For each artist there is a unique way of working. Nothing is right or wrong about that. Quality levels vary greatly. A watercolor tattoo done by a less proficient tattoo artist might create a work that does indeed fade quickly.

watercolor poppy tattoo

A Floral Watercolor Tattoo by Joel Wright

How Long Will Any Tattoo Last?

In order to really answer the question how long watercolor tattoos last, we all must look at how long any ordinary tattoo lasts. Assuming that you have the highest quality of work under normal conditions, how long will any tattoo last?

When we look at tattoos done many years ago on elderly collectors, we might see blurs and blobs of what used to be an anchor tattoo. These vintage tattoos were crafted at a time that the modern tattoo technology was just being formed. The theory was the deeper the better. As the skin aged, the ink that was inserted into the skin too deeply spread out over time. That tattoo did not age well.

Of course we know that we shouldn’t go that deep now. Tattoo technology has developed greatly in the past 10 years and it is evident in the work that you see today.

Work completed 20 years ago still looks pretty damn good depending on the artist.

With the level of quality in inks, machinery and technique that you have now, you need to wait 40 or 50 years. We can only speculate until you arrive at a future point you can say “That tattoo really aged well!

watercolor monarch butterfly tattoo

A Butterfly Watercolor Tattoo By Joel Wright

Will a Watercolor Tattoo Last 10 Years or More?

In the meantime, will the watercolor tattoos last one year and beyond, even 10 years or more? My answer is undoubtedly, Yes. Again depending on many factors.

Remember that a watercolor tattoo isn’t different from any other tattoo. The style it's done in and subtle colors being used in some places in the composition is the difference.

I completed one of my first watercolor styled tattoos in 2011. It is still there with beautiful color and looks strikingly like it did when I first completed it.

There are many factors at work here however.

  • The value and tone of the skin is one factor. 
  • The collectors’ frequency in the sun and how well she takes care of her skin.
  • The range of contrast in the tattoo such as subtle color and saturated tones is a major factor.

Finally, the quality in the execution of the tattoo is the most important element. All of these and more play into the longevity of a tattoo.

Tattoos don’t usually magically disappear. If it did rapidly fade it’s usually right after the tattoo is completed. Due to cheap materials or improper tattooing due to inexperienced tattoo artists determines longevity. A watercolor tattoo lasts well into the future when created by an experienced artist.

watercolor tattoo tree

A Tree Watercolor Tattoo by Joel Wright

How to have the best watercolor tattoo experience?

If you want to ensure that you have the best tattoo experience, then seek out your tattoo artist based on his or her portfolio. Ask your tattoo artist how long they have been tattooing.  At least a year or two is best.  Ask to see healed pics too.

Just because a tattoo artist has been tattooing a decade or more don’t automatically assume they are more proficient and talented.  Look at the most recent work of any artist to make sure they are still dedicated.

Commitment from the artist is a very important element in how long watercolor tattoos last. This misconception about tattoo work is that you can get in and out in one session and never need a second session, or any additional involvement in the tattoo.

watercolor phoenix tattoo

A Pheonix Watercolor Tattoo

Contacting Me With a Watercolor Tattoo Request

I hope this post answered your question about how long watercolor tattoos last. Watercolor tattoos last as long as you are will to invest care into it. And by care I mean:

  • Finding the right artist - Experienced and cares about quality
  • Looking at portfolios - Finding your favorite style
  • Having realistic expectations - All tattoos change over time like the bodies they are on.
  • Possibility of multiple sessions - You might need multiple sessions to achieve a lasting quality of work
  • Taking care of your healing tattoo - No level of quality can survive reckless healing practice.

I am booking now for tattoo and you can contact me for questions about pricing, scheduling, and to see if your request is a good fit for me.