An important note to consider, whether you’re just getting your first tattoo or are a veteran of the process, is your nervous system. Anywhere that the skin is thin—feet, hands, or clavicle—you will experience enhanced sensitivity. Concomitantly, in places where an abundance of nerves run close to the surface—upper inner arm, back of the knee, hip and groin area, and lower back—tattooing will be more painful.

Perhaps the main difference between ancient and modern tattoos is that in the contemporary West, a given design’s message is often harder to decipher than those of tattoos rooted in specific cultural traditions. It was easy for fellow Maoris to read meaning in the markings on each other’s faces. But why, oh why, would you plaster your scalp with an picture of a continental breakfast, or ink a puking yellow mouse on your back, as certain bold souls showcased here did? (That’s not to suggest that tattoos have lost their tribal significance. Just look to the tattoos of prison gangs, skinheads, biker clubs, punk rockers, and other subcultures.)


When you decide to go for a sleeve tattoo, there are many things you should consider. Do you want your entire arm covered in tattoos, or just half a quarter sleeve? Your tattoo artist can assist you in best deciding the placement and size of your sleeve tattoo. Certain people begin with a couple of randomly placed tattoos, and piece them together later with a bigger, more significant piece. If you’re only starting on the sleeve idea, then it’s a good thing to consider the final project, as well as the scale of your tattoo’s placement.


Preserved tattoos on ancient mummified human remains reveal that tattooing has been practiced throughout the world for many centuries.[33] In 2015, scientific re-assessment of the age of the two oldest known tattooed mummies identified Ötzi as the oldest currently known example. This body, with 61 tattoos, was found embedded in glacial ice in the Alps, and was dated to 3250 BCE.[33][34] In 2018, the oldest figurative tattoos in the world were discovered on two mummies from Egypt which are dated between 3351 and 3017 BCE.[35]

After it’s done peeling, you can start your long-term care plan: “Always use sunblock and body lotion,” says Gualteros. “Honestly, if a tattoo is properly done and properly taken care of, it should be good for life, without touch up. So long as there’s good foundation—that is, black and line work—it should look good over time.” If you don’t properly block the skin from the sun’s wear, or condition it daily, the colors will fade over time and will require a touching up. Considering you’ll be working with a full sleeve or more, it’s best to get in the habit of using sunblock and lotion.

Your next consideration should be where you want your tattoo. Is it something you want to show off, easily conceal or reveal, or a more personal project that only you will see? Your body will be your canvas, so it’s important to choose a portion of your anatomy appropriate to your art. Back pieces are exceptionally well suited to larger concepts, which you may want to expand at some future date. If you just want to start small, the bicep or the forearm are ideal for more contained show pieces, discrete emblems that can be worked into “sleeves”—either half or full—at a later time.
The amount of time to get a full sleeve tattoo on your arm is completely subjective. The entire process, similar to the outcome itself, is highly subjective to plenty of variables. Factors that you must think about include the speed of the artist, the design, as well as your personal healing time. The main factor involved in how long will you be sitting on that tattoo chair is the complexity of the concept. Full sleeves that feature your traditional sailor-style tattoo artwork might take as little as 10 to 15 hours. Meanwhile, a photorealistic tattoo can take at least eighty hours to complete – Possibly even more.
According to George Orwell, coal miners could develop characteristic tattoos owing to coal dust getting into wounds.[10] This can also occur with substances like gunpowder. Similarly, a traumatic tattoo occurs when a substance such as asphalt is rubbed into a wound as the result of some kind of accident or trauma.[11] These are particularly difficult to remove as they tend to be spread across several layers of skin, and scarring or permanent discoloration is almost unavoidable depending on the location. An amalgam tattoo is when amalgam particles are implanted in to the soft tissues of the mouth, usually the gums, during dental filling placement or removal.[12] Another example of such accidental tattoos is the result of a deliberate or accidental stabbing with a pencil or pen, leaving graphite or ink beneath the skin.
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