Photo by Ryn Gargulinski

Tattoos can be like potato chips: once you have one, you’re going to want a whole lot more. Rather than randomly tattoo knees, elbows and calves, you can add to tattoos in a way that creates an overall pleasing picture. It especially helps if you pick a theme, but it's not necessary as long as you keep tattoos in the same type of style so your body is not covered with jarring juxtapositions of art. You can add to tattoos with a little forethought and a few simple steps.

Assess the tattoos you already have. Take a look at the placement, subject matter and style or your existing tattoos and figure out what would fit in as your next installment.

Decide where you want a new one. Placement can be determined by your existing tattoos or just where you want a new one. If you have one bicep covered, perhaps you want to start adding to your other arm. If one leg is adorned, pick your placement on the opposite foot. Lots of people like symmetry, so that’s an easy call when it comes to adding new tattoos.

Decide what the new one should be. You may want to match the mood and theme of your existing tattoos, or you may not. For a match, bodies tattooed with dragons, spiders and snakes may scream out for a tattoo of some type of animal skeleton. Skin sashayed with butterflies and flowers may plead to add a heart. Tribal art works well to compliment any tattoos, but again you get to choose if you want thick, black lines or thinner, intertwined outlines.

Sketch a rough drawing of the new tattoo to determine the size, shape and any details that must be included. Play around with the size, shape and other aspects to make the tattoo fit where and what you want. You can also go down to your local tattoo shop and ask the artist to design one for you based on what you’ve thought about.

Practice with your design. Make a photocopy of your sketch and cut out the photocopy. That way you will be free to place your design in different areas of your body to see where it best compliments your existing artwork.

Finalize the design. This can be done yourself or with help from the awesome tattoo artist you know. Input from several other people may be helpful, or it may be annoying and full of horrible ideas. This is your body; you make the final decision.


Beware of clogging up areas with way too many tattoos. Tattoos that are too close together, overlapping or jammed up into a small area will fade into a blob of meaningless crud. Make sure you have ample spacing between tattoos You may find you want to switch your theme or create a theme in which your old tattoos do not fit. You can always have them covered up or amended to fall into place with your new vision. Not every tattoo needs to be colored in. You can leave line art only without it looking like an unfinished tattoo if done right.


Don’t be afraid of blank space. A series of dragons on an outer thigh looks fab by itself, although some would say it needs flames, vines or another background to tie the tattoos all together. Leave a new tattoo minimal and test it out for a few weeks. You may find the contrasting blank spaces striking. It’s always easier to add more to a tattoo than to cover it. Test a new tattoo for several months to see if it really needs to be intertwined with adjacent tattoos or needs further adornment.