If you know you eventually want a sleeve, or if you’re going full-sleeve right out the gate, then Gualteros recommends starting at the shoulder. From there, you’ll work your way down the arm. “If someone came to me and let me do whatever I wanted, I’d start from the top with something that fits the body,” he says. “Something that doesn’t look like a sticker on the arm, then bring it down and fill it in.” Alternatively, he notes that some of his customers and fellow artists prefer to start at the wrist and work their way up, but on the same principle: By starting on one end, you aren’t guessing where to place everything else. Instead, you’re moving up or down the sleeve and filling it in with some kind of order.
"If the tattoo has small, tight intricate details, they will be lost with time as the cells change and move," Gehrlich says. "When the design is larger, there is more room for displacement and allows the design to still be readable." As your skin ages, your tattoo will change. Getting a larger design may help you prepare for the way it will look later on.
Tattoo inks have been described as "remarkably nonreactive histologically". However, cases of allergic reactions to tattoo inks, particularly certain colors, have been medically documented. This is sometimes due to the presence of nickel in an ink pigment, which triggers a common metal allergy. Occasionally, when a blood vessel is punctured during the tattooing procedure, a bruise/hematoma may appear.
Historically finger tattoos get a bit of a bad wrap. Typically they use to be reserved for bikers and gang members, they also were considered a bit of a faux pas if you wanted to get a respectable job. Nowadays however they are more common place and socially acceptable. The traditional finger tattoos were to get “LOVE” on one hand and then “HATE” across the other knuckles, this was a design that was popularized by movie characters. Generally people will get either two four letter words across their knuckles or one eight or ten letter word across both of their hands.
Leave the colors to the artist. Hamlet suggests not bringing in a fully rendered drawing of the image and colors you want. The more I interview tattoo artists, the more I am coming to understand that getting a tattoo is like commissioning an artist to paint a mural. You do own the building, but you don't hand the artist a photo of another artist's mural and tell them to replicate it for you. Instead, you say your building works for peace and you want a mural that conveys that message and that you especially love lily of the valley flowers and the image of the rising sun. Then you let the artist do what they do: Create some art!
A sleeve tattoo comes from the cooperation between the tattooist and the customer, in order to show a theme that they have both liked and agreed on. Occasionally, the sleeve is made when someone has plenty of small, individual tattoos found on their leg or arm. This person eventually has them linked to each other with a background tattooing, to be able to create a complete sleeve tattoo. A full sleeve tattoo can take endless hours of non-stop tattooing, sometimes taking days, weeks, months, and even years to finish. Tattoo sleeves have become so popular that plenty of clothing companies have created apparel that simulates the look and feel of a tattoo sleeve with the help of a transparent mesh, that’s printed with tattoo designs. If a person gets both of their arms tattooed as a part of a full-body tattoo, this is also referred to as a sleeve tattoo.
"Bold black text and American Traditional tattoos still look badass when they fade," Villani says. "It's kind of like how distressed jeans look cool [...] This may seem excessive for most people, but planning how a tattoo will look as it ages will be a fist bump to yourself in the future." If text or traditional tattoos aren't exactly up your alley, you can ask your tattoo artist if you can incorporate darker lines or more negative space into your design.
The sleeve tattoos for men are very expressive. Any man spotting a sleeve tattoo is viewed as open-minded and less likely to be alarmed by any controversial topics that might be discussed. With that impression, the people around them will be more open because they view the man as expressive and bold since they were bold enough to get a sleeve tattoo and show it off to the world in the first place. The sleeve tattoo can be a unique expression of what one stands for or their personal story depending of course on the design.
Tattoos have also been used for identification in other ways. As early as the Zhou, Chinese authorities would employ facial tattoos as a punishment for certain crimes or to mark prisoners or slaves. During the Roman Empire, gladiators and slaves were tattooed: exported slaves were tattooed with the words "tax paid", and it was a common practice to tattoo "Stop me, I'm a runaway" on their foreheads. Owing to the Biblical strictures against the practice, Emperor Constantine I banned tattooing the face around AD 330, and the Second Council of Nicaea banned all body markings as a pagan practice in AD 787.