Ashley Knuth on Breaking Up with a Matching Tattoo, Twice!

Breaking up is hard to do. But, when you and your ex share matching tattoos, it can be even harder. Ashley Knuth, our Director of Operations Services, had a “permanent” reminder of a relationship she’d rather forget − emphasis on had.

We sat down with Ashley and talked Celtic knots (the tattoo she and her ex shared) cover-ups and coming clean thanks to tattoo removal. Read her Q&A below.

Ashley Knuth, our Minneapolis-based Director of Operations Services.
Q: How many tattoos do you have?

I have had two tattoos applied, the original and the one that covered it up. Once this is gone, I’ll have 0… but I’ll probably get more soon.

The original tattoo was a Celtic knot. It was about a quarter size, and the design came from a necklace my ex had given me early in our relationship.  I said I’d never do anything like that, but we had been together for 4 or 5 years, we were engaged, we were moving to New York together…

The cover-up tattoo was a black and grey feather.  I had intended it to be an ink quill but that got lost in the translation of the design.

Here’s my tattoo(s) before my first-ever treatment. It’s nice and red from the numbing cream. If you look carefully (not too carefully) you can see the Celtic knot peeking through.
Q: Why are you getting the tattoo(s) removed?

My life changed very drastically in 2009. After a canceled wedding and being on-again-off-again for 2 years, my ex and I were finally done.  In January, right after my 25th birthday, we split for the last time.

My 1st tattoo wasn’t just a symbol of our time together, my ex also had a matching one. When we broke up, my memories of our time together in New York are pretty sour, but despite that I tried to be positive about the tattoo and its meaning.

My friends gave me a hard time about the tattoo. They suggested I change it by crossing it out or adding “forever’s relative” under it. I responded to them by saying, “No matter how much I dislike him now he’s a part of my history” or “we were together for 7.5 years, it’s a reminder of that time, not just him.”

I didn’t want to admit it was a bad idea to begin with. I didn’t want to be “that girl,” the girl who was SO wrong about a boy and regretted “branding herself.”

Late in the summer of 2009, I met my (now) husband. I told him the truth about the tattoo right away. He’s amazing, so of course he said the tattoo didn’t bother him. However, the longer we were together, and the more milestones we celebrated, the worse I felt about carrying my jerk ex along for the ride.

In 2011, I looked into tattoo removal.  This was long before Invisible Ink or the PicoWay® Laser. It sounded like I was an ideal candidate for the old technology, I am super fair, and my tattoo was just black. The technicians that I talked to warned me about the time commitment and possible complications. Since I was looking at 3+ years of treatments with a low chance of full removal and a per treatment cost that was higher than my car payment, I decided to look into getting a cover-up tattoo.

Q. So how did you settle on the cover-up?

I thought about it for a year, I’d draw designs over the tattoo with a sharpie or print images and stick them on to see what it would look like. I decided to get a small feather quill and a quote from my favorite book. I couldn’t decide on the quote, so I choose to start with just the feather. 

The tattoo that went over my original tattoo wasn’t a bad tattoo.  However, it was MUCH bigger and nowhere near the design I had shown the tattoo artist.

What I didn’t know is that cover-up tattoos are super technical and take a skilled artist who is passionate about cover-ups. He tried to hide the original tattoo in the lines of the feather, but you could still see it.  And it drove me crazy

The jerk was still there, even after I have tried to hide it. I still had to be reminded of him every day.

So, when we opened the Invisible Ink Tattoo Removers’ Minneapolis studio, despite the tattoo only being a year old, I decided to be one of our first clients!

Q. How many treatments have you had and how many are you scoped for?

I’ve had 10 treatments so far and in the current IA modal predicted 11 treatments.  I do think my next one will be my last one.

Here’s where I was at after 10 treatments. I’m so excited to see some of those freckles again! Since treatment 11, there’s even fewer lines and way more freckles!
Q. Do you find treatment painful?

I don’t, and I have tried it with and without numbing cream, ice and the Zimmer. The faster they can go the better, so I opt for no breaks and let them zip through. 

It’s always over before I know it.

Q. How are you feeling about progress to date?

Great!  It’s been so light since treatment 5 or 6 that I have had the last 4 treatments over the course of 3 years because I barely even notice the tattoo now. 

And it’s Mom approved too; she can’t even see it anymore.

Q. Do you have any plans for the space that’s being freed up?

I have been thinking about getting something higher up on my forearm − closer to the bend in my arm. 

I really want to do a David Bowie or Prince tattoo. I just haven’t decided what or where yet.

Here I am with the some of the Invisible Ink leadership team!
Q. What are your tips for people who are thinking of coming in for a consult with Invisible Ink?

If you’re on the fence about tattoo removal or a cover-up, start with tattoo removal. 

Even if you know you want to put another tattoo there someday, you have WAY more options if you fade it first. Even more, if you completely remove it.

I want people to have the art they truly love and not have to settle for something because it’s a cover-up. I hope no one else will worry about the past coming back to haunt them through a new tattoo.

Q. As you near the “finish line,” what are your tips for people who are mid-way through their change journey, maybe 2-3 treatments in?

 Keep your before photo or ask us to send it to you. Don’t measure your progress on a day to day basis! Go back and look at your before and hold it up next to your tattoo.  You’ll be amazed by how much ink you’ve lost.

Every tattoo is different, but every tattoo has a “wow moment” when it hits the point of no return. And then suddenly, it’s almost gone.

If you’ve been where Ashley’s been or have questions for her about her experience, sound off in the comments!

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