Couples tattoos are usually one of two things: Cute or cringe-worthy (the latter being infinitely more likely). They’re also risky—a lasering specialist told HuffPost that roughly half of the laser removals she does each year are couples tattoos. “Most of the time, people come in because their current partner really wants them to get rid of their ex’s name,” she told them. Not all couples tattoos have to be regrettable, though. Below, you’ll find advice from tattoo artists on how to get aesthetically pleasing couples tattoos that you and your partner will love for life (even if the relationship ends).
Have a Healthy Relationship
This might sound obvious, but according to John Engfors of The North Tattoos, it bears repeating. “Sometimes people get couples tattoos as an attempt to put the spark back into their relationship,” he says. “That’s not a good idea.” Put simply, you’re probably not ready for couples tattoos if there’s even a slight chance that the relationship won’t last. That said, tattoos for couples can be designed to go the distance, even if the relationship doesn’t.
Think Outside the Box
Picking whatever tattoos for couples are most popular on Pinterest at the time—names, anniversary dates and Roman numerals are just a few current ones—is an easy way to end up with a cliché tattoo that you’ll regret down the road. Instead, Derrek Everette of Broken Art Tattoo recommends basing your idea off a mutual love you and your partner have for something: “One couple I tattooed met on a camping trip, so I suggested they get nature-themed tattoos,” he says. “Remember, tattoos are a form of art, and too many people sell themselves short by getting tiny lettering [as opposed to beautiful imagery].”
Avoid Matching Couple Tattoos
“The best way to get couples tattoos that you won’t regret if you break up is to go with an actual image [rather than words or dates] that means something to the both of you, but can also be customized so neither person has the exact same tattoo,” Everette explains. (Engfors, for instance, once did Beavis and Butt-Head tattoos for a couple—one person got Beavis and the other got Butt-head). That way, you can impart new meaning on the image if your relationship goes down the drain—something that would be impossible if the tattoo is your anniversary (or worse, each other’s names).
If You Must Get Matching Tattoos, Start Small
“Matching couple tattoos should be relatively small and simple—that way, if you do break up, it will be easier for the tattoo artist to cover it up with another tattoo,” explains Josue Acosta of Broken Art Tattoo. “You can always ask the tattoo artist for his or her opinion or to suggest ideas, placement and sizing. That can always be reassuring.” He also emphasizes the importance of not getting couples tattoos while drunk, for obvious reasons.
So there you have it: The best way to get good couples tattoos is to get designs that stand alone, but also benefit from one another. Huh, sounds a lot like a good relationship.