How to Pick a Tattoo Font That Will Still Look Good in 20 Years

“I have a bunch of really small tattoos myself. But I always give people the warning that if you’re getting something that has an O in it, for example, just be cognizant of how that’s going to be like 10 years from now,” says Pignanelli. While some clients may be concerned with legibility in the coming years, some may be just fine with the inevitable fading tattoos are prone too. 

“There’s a saying in the tattoo community: bold will hold. And it is true — even though everything spreads over time, bold lines tend to be the most legible over time,” explains Pignanelli, but notes that again, personal preference and talent of the artist are key when making this decision. “That being said, I’ve seen a lot of fine line tattoos that have healed so beautifully and have lasted over the years.”

Look for artists on Instagram — but pay attention to their posts.

The ‘gram is an endless source of inspiration when it comes to tattoos, and if you’re like us, you’ve got a folder full of ideas from artists around the world. But as with everything else, looks can be deceiving. When you’re scrolling through an artist’s page, Pignanelli suggests checking out both artists’ grids and their tagged posts to get a full picture of what their work looks like — both when the ink is fresh, and when it’s had weeks or months to heal up.

“Artists posting healed work is a good sign,” she says, noting that tattoos — especially tiny, delicate ones — can look great in the moments after tattooing. but may not look as crisp after they’re healed. What’s more, Pignanelli says some artists have actually been busted for editing photos of their clients’ tattoos. (For clarity, tweaking photos for consistency or visibility is standard, but doctoring the appearance of the actual tattoos is not.) 

“Instagram is such a good marketing resource, right? You can put whatever on your Instagram,” she explains. “That’s another reason why I’ve started really encouraging people to look up [artists’] healed stuff, or even things that people have tagged them in.”

Honestly, just ask your artist for guidance. 

Tattoo artists are, obviously, pros when it comes to looking at a person’s body and designing art around it. And if your artist is experienced, chances are they’ve got their own arsenal of fonts at the ready to help their clients achieve their ideal result. 

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