What You Need to Know About Full Body Blackout Tattoos

Blackout tattoos have been around for years but have recently gotten a lot of attention online. 

As a new artist, it’s important to understand tattoo where the full body blackout tattoo comes from and how to do them well will help you give your future clients the best possible experience.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What blackout tattoos are
  • Why people get full blackout tattoos
  • Blackout tattoo design ideas

What Are Blackout Tattoos?

Forearm blackout tattoo of a bee and geometric shapes

Blackout tattoos are exactly what they sound like: Black ink saturated over a large area of the skin. Blackout tattoos can be as simple as a big area covered in black ink, but they can also be broken up with details done in other colors, white ink over top of the black (a “white out” tattoo), or areas with no ink at all. 

History of the Blackout Tattoo

Blackout tattooing has roots in Polynesian, South Asian, and Sub-Saharan African body art. Blackout tattoos were known to symbolize strength and status. In 2010, blackout tattoos regained popularity in South Asia as interest in reviving ancient art increased.


Because the blackout tattoo has such strong cultural roots, some critics believe that a white person getting one is a form of cultural appropriation. Others believe that a non-black person getting a large amount of blackout tattooing done is a form of blackface. Despite the criticism, these tattoos are still gaining steam around the world.

Blackout Tattoo Meaning 

Some people get a blackout tattoo simply because they think it would be a cool and striking piece of body art. Others use blackout tattoos as a way to cover up old tattoos

Some clients who want to cover up a tattoo go the blackout route rather than paying for laser sessions because a blackout tattoo will often be cheaper and faster. With coverups, people usually get the old tattoo completely blacked out and either leave it that way or have an artist put in details later with white ink.

Important Things to Know About Doing A Blackout Tattoo

While the basic technique of blackout tattooing is the same as any other tattoo, the process is a lot more intense and traumatic to the skin. Clients should be prepared for a blackout tattoo to be more uncomfortable and slightly more difficult to heal than a “normal” tattoo. 

One important thing for clients to know before committing to a blackout tattoo is that it can be harder to detect skin cancer in areas covered with black ink.

How Badly Do Blackout Tattoos Hurt?  

Blackout tattoos tend to be more painful than the average tattoo, because they require the tattoo artist to fully saturated the entire area with black ink. 

Blackout tattoos can also be more time consuming because of the amount of ink that has to go into a pretty large area. These tattoos usually require multiple sessions, and the amount of sessions can depend on the client’s pain tolerance.

Healing Blackout Tattoos  

The healing process for blackout tattoos is similar to regular tattoos but with a slightly increased chance of allergic reaction, infection, and scarring. There might be more pain and peeling due to the amount of skin saturated with ink, but they should still only take a few weeks to heal. 

Clients should expect to see more swelling due to the added trauma of a blackout tattoo. they should plan to take time to rest and ice the area where they’ve been tattooed, because it will likely be extra sore. 

As with other tattoos, clients should keep their tattoo clean to prevent infection and keep the tattoo out of the sun to reduce how much it will fade.

Design Gallery: Blackout Tattoos  

Full body blackout tattoo with negative space details on the arm
Blackwork tattoo over full body with thin line swirls and other designs
Blackwork tattoo by Chester Lee
Blackout tattoos over both legs with roses on the knees and a portrait on the thig
Blackwork Tattoo on Lionel Messi’s calf

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Understanding tattoo trends is an important step in your journey towards a tattoo career, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how many different kinds of tattoos most tattoo artists are expected to know how to do. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist.

However, finding the straightforward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits.

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need for your tattoo career.

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to become a full time tattoo artist faster …

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

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Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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