Blastover, I Love You by @Pang.Ink

Blastover, I Love You by @Pang.Ink


March 7, 2023

Words by @Pang.Ink

Pang is a Chinese-American scratcher with a focus on abstract composition and blastovers.
Based in the Bay Area, they are a meme-admin of nonbinary experience. over piece by @adrianmactattoo

Blastover, I Love You.

This is a love letter to blastovers. A blastover is a tattoo over a tattoo: it is different from a coverup because it does not cover the older tattoo completely. Upon first glance, the blastover looks striking and confrontational in the way it overlaps with older ink. It creates a layered effect that forces you to ponder “then” and “now.” The obvious aesthetic intervention inspires curiosity about the relationship the wearer has with the tattoo underneath – Why the blastover? Most often, people ask me for a blastover on top of a tattoo that no longer suits them. In some cases, it is because the old tattoo reminds them of someone who has done (them) harm. Other times, it is simply because the blastover pairs well with the older ink. But in every case, blastovers are an explicit, intentional rebirth.

When a blastover obscures a tattoo that no longer suits them: the wearer feels more true to themselves after remixing their old ink. The blastover makes an explicitly new picture, replacing the old tattoo with an image that resonates with the wearer once again. It may cover a tattoo that was poorly done, or embarrassing. But it’s not a replacement - it’s something else. Here, the blastover becomes an aesthetic anti-hero.

When a blastover obscures a harmful memory or person: It allows one to reclaim skin that formerly made space for someone who doesn’t deserve it. With old ink showing through, a blastover can be more powerful than a coverup. It not only shows you who I am, but also who I’m not. The protest is highly visible. Here, the blastover becomes an instrument for reclamation.

When a blastover embellishes older ink: the layers form a dialogue. It is a time-delayed collaboration between tattooers, with client as curator. Unlike other reasons for a blastover, there is nothing disagreeable about the tattoo underneath. To decorate an older tattoo with a blastover is to understand the beauty of the older piece and to be in intentional conversation with the work of another artist. Here, the blastover becomes an adornment of an adornment.

Whatever the impetus, blastovers reflect the wearer’s intent while recontextualizing older tattoos. It’s protest if they want it to be, it’s collaboration if they want it to be. Blastovers can be a source of newness and relief to their wearers. Sometimes these emotions come up after years of feeling embarrassed of or detached from a certain part of their body. By disregarding common guidelines in tattooing (e.g. avoiding overlap, optimizing legibility), blastovers offer more flexibility in decorating ourselves by reminding us that tattooed skin is still tattooable.

When you see new ink atop old, the transformation occurs before you. Blastovers help us acknowledge growth and healing rather than cover up the past. They are a permanent nod to the temporality of our body, our taste, and our identity. Tattooing a tattoo punctures the illusion of permanence, despite being permanently placed in the skin. Blastovers make visible the wearer’s evolution, creating a timeline instead of a moment. They stand witness to the different phases of a person and their changing body. Blurring and fading illustrate a clear age difference between the blastover and the tattoo underneath, presenting permanence as a spectrum. Glimpses of old ink remind us that the things we like, the people we love, and the spaces we inhabit are all subject to change. The blastover tells you: “this body is in flux.”

My friend who writes graffiti once messaged me asking "In a moral sense, do you have to notify the original artist you’re blasting over their work?” Their question illuminated parallels between tattooing and graffiti: Both mediums require a willingness to participate in chaos, to make image in a landscape that is subject to constant change. Whether on concrete or on skin, artists must accept that their work may disappear or look different once they walk away. While both practices challenge the idea of ownership, tattooing adds another factor: the canvas is a sentient person with free will. Much of the aesthetic impact of a tattoo is subject to the other tattoos around it, and by extension, the person collecting them. Layering tattoos further challenges the idea of control by overlapping with existing work directly, rather than composing around it. Blastovers exemplify the willful chaos that all tattooers more or less accede to when they make art on a living, breathing human being.

Blastovers honor the passage of time. Keeping an old tattoo visible under a new one can bridge the former self and the current self. Tattoos tend to fossilize a moment, but a blastover makes a permanent thing feel dynamic. Imprinted on our skin, tattoos decorate the fabric through which we experience the world, and the world experiences us. It is only fitting that our tattoos reflect our complexity. Blastovers enable a sort of aesthetic homeostasis: with their help, a tattoo collection evolves with its wearer in an constantly iterative, self-correcting state. The possibility of a tattoo being covered or adapted gives meaning to new tattoos and old tattoos alike. The new ones remind us of our agency over our bodies. The old ones remind us of our resilience and growth.

Featured [below] are some examples of blastovers. All known tattooers have been credited to the best of our ability. To request credit, please contact the TTTism team.

@transexualdeepfried over piece by
@eeeeeeeeee.eeeeeeee.eeeeeeeeee over piece by @fcknrx
@daddy.hands over piece by @paulagrenouille
@__sinkhole over piece by @lonerstartats
@fblrr_ over piece by @dimakorneplod

In order of appearance:
1. over piece by @adrianmactattoo 2. 3. 4. @transexualdeepfried over piece by 5. @humanrind 6. @eeeeeeeeee.eeeeeeee.eeeeeeeeee over piece by @fcknrx 7. @cashfrancesx 8. @hyodomachine 9. @_dawsh 10. @daddy.hands over piece by @paulagrenouille 11. @jills_nipples 12. @__sinkhole over piece by @lonerstartats 13. @fblrr_ over piece by @dimakorneplod 14. @shaky__j_ 15. @sagflap 16. @0p4qu3 17. @kourtneykardash