Have you ever been almost instantly disappointed in a tattoo? How did you work through it?

Hi all, bit of a long post coming in, just looking for advice and/or emotional support. I’ve been wanting swallow tattoos for a while and finally got them on Wednesday on either side of my chest. I love the artist and have another tattoo from her so was excited. I had a really specific style in mind and gave her a couple of references.

Fast forward to the day, we make a few changes to the stencil and placements and I thought it looked great before we started, so we go ahead. A day later, I’m feeling disappointed. Its not exactly what I had in mind and the placement is maybe an inch off. The beaks are bigger than they looked like on the stencil and I didn’t notice until after it was done.

I was so excited to have these done and I just feel a bit embarrassed by the whole situation. Like I was genuinely happy but then afterwards it wasn’t what I had in mind. The tattoos themselves are really really well done, but because I had such a specific design in mind I’m just feeling a bit negative about it all. I’m thinking about messaging the artist and seeing what she thinks about maybe covering part of the beak to make it look a bit smaller, but I’m not sure if thats like rude or whatever and am worried that she will just dismiss anything I say (I don’t think she would because she’s lovely but still).

Has anyone had a similar experience? What happened in your case and how did it play out? This is still very fresh for me, literally a few days old, and I’m not afraid to admit I have shed some tears, but yea thats the situation. I’d love to hear anything from you guys.

Of course, [the tattoo]( for reference.

Edit: I really appreciate everyone sharing their advice and stories!! I honestly feel better about it already, I think the “oh god what have I done” thing will pass. Thanks all for the kind words!

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  1. I think the beak is a good size. If it were smaller it might end up not holding as well when it blurs over time. I think the swallow looks great personally.

    Most of my tattoos I’ve had a sudden “oh no what have I done” moment but after a few weeks it just becomes a part of me. Give it some time and the same should happen for you.

  2. i’m definitely not seeing what you’re seeing, it looks perfect and the beak looks very proportional! any small and it would look a bit odd tbh. tattoo regret is pretty normal in the first few days/weeks as it heals and your mind adjusts to having something on your body that wasn’t there before; it’s normal to pick it apart a bit.

  3. Absolutely gorgeous tattoo. Honestly. Even after reading your post, I don’t think the beak is too large. You are the one who has to live with it, though, so I understand your concern. I have had many instant regret tattoo moments. My best advice is to wait a bit. Live with it for a bit. It’ll need to heal before anything can really be done anyways. I always grow to love the tattoos that I instantly regret. If you still aren’t happy with it after awhile, I would message the original artist your feelings to see what can be done.

  4. If it makes you feel better I would have never thought the beak was to big unless I read your post. Overall I think it’s a nice tattoo

  5. There is a part of my tattoo that I hate. Nobody has ever said anything and have only ever gotten compliments.

    Just remember you’re likely harder on yourself than most others. Your tattoo looks great as the many comments above prove!

  6. This is really well done, including the beak. I wouldn’t change it because I think it will get worse. I love this tattoo.

    Did you know swallows have (or had) a meaning? Each one indicates a certain distance sailors have traveled. Not that it means s that now, just a bit of history.

  7. Looks great to me, give it a little time and see if you come around on it.

    Years ago I had a very specific idea for a half sleeve. The guy I went to had similar art tattooed on him, so he understood the concept. I did not account for the fact that the guy was lazy af and hated drawing tattoos, his ideal day was just sticking flash art.

    So he comes out with a stencil that looks vaguely like what I wanted, but not really. He tells me that the stencil is just guidelines, and he’ll fill in the detail after those are down. Sounded like bullshit, but I’m not an artist so I trusted him. He gets the stencil down, says okay next session we’ll add that detail and carve out those lines, blah blah blah.

    Took me months to even get in touch with him again to set the next appointment. I show up, he takes one look at it and says “yeah I don’t think I can do anything with that.” As if I was coming to him to cover up somebody else’s shitty work or something. I demanded my money back and he refused.

    So I lived with that terrible POS on my arm for years until I worked up the courage to try again and got it covered with a full sleeve. Couldn’t be happier now.

  8. If you’re going to get upset about this, you’re not the type of person who should be getting tattoos. You’re finding faults that just aren’t there. Also the medium is ink in living skin. It will age / change over time. Not tattoo is “perfect”

    Listen to what others are saying, it’s a good tattoo. If the beak was any smaller, it would be more black outline than yellow beak.

  9. I see no issues, sounds like you have tattoo regret. Normal and will go away quickly. The lines are clean and the colour is spot on, youv got yourself two really good tattoos, soon enough you will see that 😊

  10. No tattoo is perfect. The little imperfections won’t matter in like 2 weeks. I wouldn’t have noticed anything about the beak if you didn’t mention it.

  11. As someone who doesn’t know what a real swallow looks like, the beak looks perfectly fine to me.

    I highly recommend you give it some time, a few weeks at least. I’ve had those moments before, but the feeling usually goes away after a little while.

  12. There’s a couple nitpicky issues with the piece but overall it’s nice. I wouldn’t stress man. Color is saturated nickeled. Outline is pretty good. Way better than much of the shit people post on here that they’re proud of.

    Also… EVERY tattoo has some imperfections in it. Even from the greatest artist. They’re not machines. I’m not gonna give some. I’ll shut about “it adds character” because that’s silly but what I mean is, if you’re worried about perfection, don’t get tattoos made by humans.

    Almost all of my work is by really well known, expensive people I had to wait a while for… each and every one of them has little things that aren’t “just right.” Every one. Fuck it. I still get stopped on an almost daily basis with people commenting. Just roll with it. That’s a great piece.

  13. Sometimes our brains just need time to cope with changes, sometimes we had such a hyper specific idea in our heads and it doesn’t play out how we thought it would. My rib tattoo is great, no issues with it, loved it the day of and weeks after, but I always had a nagging feeling that it wasn’t what was in my head. I’m looking into getting it covered eventually, again it’s a great tattoo just not what my style is and I should have listened to that feeling sooner but what can ya do now. Your birds look great, but if you’re not happy looking at them you’re not happy and that’s okay too.

  14. I’m so sorry you’re disappointed, I can understand why you might feel panicked. I think it looks so great.

    I’d give it some more time before you make any decisions.

  15. I had a GF that convinced me to go to a local shop where the artist had a decentish portfolio, because it was closer, and because the owner and his wife (the two artists) made her a helluva deal. Essentially we paid a flat price for each tattoo, no matter how long it took to complete them. Bad idea, I know now, I didnt then.

    I had a design for a biomech skull with wings for my shoulder with the wings wrapping around under my neck on my chest and back. I should have pulled the trigger when he completely ignored my request about the wings and told me he knew better. He got the basic skull and the wing outlines completed before he tired out. I hate it. Did then, still do. The skull is first year art student bad. The wings are a terri le design. Ive been walking around with it for 14ish years, and I mostly have forgotten about it.

    My GF at the time got it WAAAAAAY worse. She wanted a cherry blossom tree sprouting from the small of her back, climbing up her back, and warpping around her left sude under her breast. For some reason she agreed to let the artist (the wife) freehand everything with no stencil or design. Let me tell you, it looked like this woman had parkinsons! Wobbly, and wildly inconsistent line width and intensity, MASSIVE blowouts over the whole tattoo, no detail to speak of, design didnt look like a cherry blossom. Basically, she got fucked for life. It was not small. Covered about 3/4 of her back and 1/4 of her left ribcage. She wont be able to cover it up.

    I dont know what she thinks about it, of how she dealt with it as we split about a year later. However, I solace myself with the knowledge that ill eventually get mine covered/redone by a competent artist. Like I said earlier, I just grew immune to it being there. Itll go away eventually.

  16. I have a large tattoo on my thigh that I had a really specific idea for and I let the guy talk me into altering it significantly and I regret it every day. 😭

  17. When my artist was finishing up his apprenticeship, he was focusing on portraits, so I decided to pull the trigger on getting a portrait of Noodle (Gorillaz) from the Humanz cover. I was stoked, because I love love love that portrait and I decided to get it on the middle of my calf. Fast forward two to three days later and it just looked so weird to me. Everytime I’d clean it and lotion it, it started to look off and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Eventually, I got enough compliments (and reassurance from my husband that it was an amazing tattoo) that those thoughts started to fade away.


    Now I look at it and I can see what a great job my artist did and how well he did the portrait. I think sometimes we are too close to the situation to see what a great piece of art we have on our bodies. My honest advice would be to give it time, sometimes it can take a few months, and I think you’ll be really happy with the art you have!

  18. First, I think your tattoo is really nice!
    Second, dont worry, as you keep getting more and more, you forget the small details/imperfections of your older ones. I was matrixed by a small line in my first tattoo for months, and now I don’t even think or see it. Don’t forget a tattoo will evolve with you and will change.

    And if you reeeeeally hate them, cover up is your friend!

    Happy tattooing my friend!

  19. Beautiful swallow tattoo!! I have 2 on my chest. Different from this one but I wouldn’t be ashamed of this one at all.

    Very sailor jerry and traditional 👍

  20. I think it looks amazing! My very first tattoo I had a lot of regret. I still kind of do to this day. Part of it may have been I’m pretty sure the artist crapped his pants half way through. But I’m not a huge fan of how it turned out. It wasn’t really what I pictured, but it holds value to me as my first ever tattoo and something that I hold close to my heart. I’d say give it a little time, it might just be a little regret about getting the tattoo itself instead of the design.

  21. They look super cool, in my opinion. Buyers remorse is totally a thing with tattoos (I have three and still occasionally feel weird about my second one not being meaningful enough even though I got it six months ago) but you’ll settle back into loving it over time. These birds are awesome.

  22. I totally felt like that after my last tattoo. I just needed to get used to it. Give yourself a few days and see if you still feel the same way. FWIW, I think your tattoo is awesome!

  23. I felt like that after my ankle tattoo, however it did suck and I’ve now had it completely reworked.

    I think yours are really well done and you should give it a month to see how you feel when they’re completely healed.

  24. I think your tattoo is gorgeous. I hope you feel better about it soon. I’ve had my disappointments in some pieces I’ve gotten. I know it’s hard to move on.