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Old 02-08-2012, 06:46 AM   #11
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Aloha Adam-

In response to your PM's regarding your tattoo, I have attached some files for you to look at. I do this kind of cover-up often and it can, in fact, be done. The issue really is to find someone capable, but I suppose that would apply to any style of ink?

I have attached two files that more or less incorporate 3 styles of Polynesian tattoo: Maori, Marquesan and Samoan. Going with any single traditional style would make the cover-up most difficult which is why I chose the aforementioned styles. That being said, to cover your piece effectively, there are a few things to consider:

First, is to add hierarchy to the design. This will require the piece to be larger, as the eye needs to be drawn away from the cover-up itself. I suggest a half sleeve, with a principle motif set at the top of the hierarchy. In the attached example, I have made the Marquesan motif, Mata Hoata, the primary, and placed it on your shoulder. This is essentially a face, the eyes are looking outward to protect against any danger. A successful cover-up will make it difficult to determine that the act had even occurred and this is why finding the right artist is crucial.

The next motif are Samoan stars which tie into their belief in the different levels of heaven. Following that are 2 Maori Koru, or fern head, which symbolize life/the cycle of life. This symbol is ubiquitous in Maori tattoo and make up a majority of Moko. The symbol has dual meanings, the second interpretation is that it is a mark of a warrior. Under that is a triangular piece which is a niho, or tooth. This is inset with more Koru. The last symbol is another Koru. I spent about 20 minutes coming up with this, and by no means is this your only option, I simply wanted to illustrate one possibility.

The other thing to consider is that a cover-up restrains the flow of the tattoo essentially confining the artwork. This is really a non-issue, though, because the 'flow' that we see in so much Polynesian tattoo is the result of Westernization. Traditional Poly tattoo such as Marquesan, Hawaiian, and Samoan, was meant to act as armor and was modeled after animals (crabs, insects, fish, etc.) or textiles (a woven mat with a distinctive weave, for example). Samoan tattoo is essentially the elements of such a mat, or tapa, inset with family motifs that tell a stories, birthrights, etc. wrapped onto the 'frame', if you will, of a building, such as a house (Samoans were regarded in ancient times as superb carpenters). Furthermore, the Samoan tattoo that is popular today, such as the example in the first image offered by Sleever, is essentially a bastardization of the Pe'a. Because the application of the Pe'a is so intense and painful, many people opt to get a sleeve instead. The Pe'a (the tattoo that runs from the lower torso to the knees) is in fact the representation of the Flying Fox, a bat, that was an important animal to the Samoans. The bat's wings are represented on each of the persons legs, and when standing with legs together, the image of the bat hanging upside down can be seen. I mention this only because it is this characteristic of the outer edges of the wing that gives the 'flow' now commonly associated with such a tattoo. The image offered by Sleever, although done well, is not technically correct. The Pe'a was intended to break the patient in the sense that if he could not handle the process, he was essentially unworthy and became somewhat of an outcast. Those wearing the Pe'a were true 'men', but I digress.

Back to your tattoo, the final issue to consider is that your old tattoo will not completely disappear into the new tattoo. With careful planning you may be able to cover most of it, but you will still have residual artifacts poking out here and there. This may not bother you, as it will most likely not be noticed unless intensely scrutinized.

However, there are solutions to this. One is the old fashion way of tattoo removal which involves tattooing over those little bits with white or flesh tone ink and then picking the scab off as it heals. This removes the old ink and works well. It may take several sittings but it is effective. The next would be to embellish those areas with such circular lines, that you see on my examples that accompany the Koru.

In the two images provided, you will see the darkened version as well as the lined version showing how the design sits over your existing piece.

I would advise against blending this with anything Polynesian as both (kanji and Poly) will be compromised. The kanji bisects the arm in such a way that it would look off, but this is only my opinion.

So, you don't have to go the laser route, but you have to go bigger and find a capable artist.

Good fortune, and I hope this helps!

My 2
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Polynesian cover up design HELP NEEDED!-adam_black.jpg   Polynesian cover up design HELP NEEDED!-adam_open.jpg  
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Old 02-08-2012, 12:35 PM   #12
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Thanks so much for this Rpacheco, it really does help to give an idea of what can be done. I'm not too keen on the boldness of the entire piece, so was wondering how it would look with a bold piece covering existing tattoo with more detailed intricate designs around it to make up the piece? Using spear heads, waves, fish hooks etc? I agree that a motif on the shoulder and build from there is the way to go. Perhaps going bold from there until get passed the existing tattoo and then more detailed from there until get down to finish point of my forearm?
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:07 PM   #13
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"how it would look with a bold piece covering existing tattoo with more detailed intricate designs around it to make up the piece? Using spear heads, waves, fish hooks etc?"

That is certainly an option. The important thing to keep in mind is that too much mass in one area, if not done correctly, can look disjointed. If you went from heavy coverage at the shoulder down toward the kanji, and then went with lighter motifs as you passed the kanji and ended the piece that would give more 'air' to the final product. It would be like a gradient, only instead of a color or tone, you would utilize motifs.

Working outward from the kanji, with the kanji being boldest and the subsequent elements both top and bottom, radiating from the kanji, could be tricky to balance. Not impossible, but tricky.

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Old 02-08-2012, 09:56 PM   #14
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@ Rpacheco I'm playing with the idea of literally covering the Kanji with a solid shape, that way it will look tidy, completely covered and I can build the design around it. I'm looking for the entire sleev to run right around my arm. What do you think of doing this? Any suggestions on a solid shape to cover it with that would be in keeping with anPolynesian design? I appreciate ideally wouldn't use such a solid shape but trying to make the best of the cover without anything showing that shouldn't be or having to worry about getting bits removed. Thoughts? Thanks a lot
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Old 03-08-2012, 07:40 PM   #15
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I think that any shape would work, really.

The intent of much of Polynesian tattoo, especially in regards to Marquesan and to some extent Hawaiian, was to cover the body completely in solid black. The intricacies of the designs that we all have come to enjoy are, in actuality, tattoos that are still in the process of evolving to a solid black state.

A typical ornate Marquesan tattoo covered the entire body and took many, many years to complete. When the body was finally covered in images (a process that started from the feet and moved upward, if you were of higher status, the opposite, from the face downward, for lower status individuals), then the act of filling in those sections, or paka, would commence until the individual was completely black.

So, in theory, if you just put a squarish shaped 'box' or some such over the kanji, that would absolutely be considered a representational Polynesian piece. That 'plate' would essentially represent a hammered piece of tapa cloth (which was as close as many Polynesians got to armor, think: plate mail), called pepehipu. Then the rest of your piece would continue from there.

P.S. I cite Marquesan tattoo predominantly because it is the basis from which much of Poly tattoo emerged and is also the most elaborate and well documented.

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Old 03-08-2012, 08:57 PM   #16
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why don't you want to go the laser route, it will certainly give you far more options.I had a small skull lasered four times, now I have a far better pin up cover up without having to go with tribal or a japanese koi.
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:08 PM   #17
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The expense really. I'm guessing it would 6-10 sessions at 50 a pop 300-500?? To get rid of it entirely? No point just fading it as fat as I can see as it would still be visible. So either cover it completely as discussed above or laser it completely. Cover is far cheaper
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:54 PM   #18
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You don't need to remove it completely, just lighten it a bit so that it can be hidden better.Poss just 2 or 3 sessions will be enough.It just gives you the chance to have something you want rather than something that just covers what you have.Its got to be worth the extra money otherwise you might again regret what you get.
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Old 03-08-2012, 10:25 PM   #19
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I appreciate your comment. I don't understand how making it lighter will make it easier to hide? Regardless of how light it is, unless using the existing ink in the tattoo it is still going to be visible?
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Old 03-08-2012, 10:56 PM   #20
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It's because black ink doesn't necessarily cover black. I was in the same boat as you,I have an old black tattoo that is as thick and as bold as your kanji, and the way a tattooist explained it to me is that if you tattoo black over black you're going to have the silhouette of the old black tattoo showing underneath.

Say if you take a black pen, and draw your kanji on paper. If you draw something over the top of it you're going to get the parts lighter underneath where the kanji is showing through. Lasering and lightening it just makes it easier to cover.
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