The terms tattoo sleeve, full sleeve, half sleeve, etc. are generic terms given to tattoo designs covering the arm or leg in a close-knit pattern resembling that of a sleeve. The validity of this term is occasionally brought into question but has gained wider acceptance over the years, especially since the dawn of the internet age. “Full sleeve” is just a tad bit catcher and descriptive than searching the web for “full arm piece tattoos.” Most contemporary artists have accepted the term and regularly use it.

Tattooing is regulated in many countries because of the associated health risks to client and practitioner, specifically local infections and virus transmission. Disposable plastic aprons and eye protection can be worn depending on the risk of blood or other secretions splashing into the eyes or clothing of the tattooist. Hand hygiene, assessment of risks and appropriate disposal of all sharp objects and materials contaminated with blood are crucial areas. The tattoo artist must wash his or her hands and must also wash the area that will be tattooed. Gloves must be worn at all times and the wound must be wiped frequently with a wet disposable towel of some kind. All equipment must be sterilized in a certified autoclave before and after every use. It is good practice to provide clients with a printed consent form that outlines risks and complications as well as instructions for after care.[67]
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.
These sleeves are awesome. They are a bit tight and took some work getting them up my arm and I was pulling them back up most of the night. And I have skinny arms. One of the sleeves got a snag and now has a run in it. However, they look great and totally pulled the costume together. I got lots of comments and was compared to Howard from the big bang theory all night.

But still I wait. Any minute he’s going to laugh and say, “You should see your faces” because this has been a running joke for years, this idea of getting a tattoo – the hard man act, iron muscles, shaved head, Jason Statham, Ross Kemp. He’s a clever boy. Maybe during his school years he thought a tattoo would balance the geeky glory of academic achievement.


Another thing to consider while deciding on your tattoo sleeves is whether you’ll go with color or not. Sleeve tattoos using only black and grey can look amazing, but there’s nothing more eye-catching and vibrant than an arm full of color. If you do go with color, it’s vital that you plan your tattoo beforehand so you don’t end up with a combination of colors down the road that don’t look too great together. Also keep in mind that a colored sleeve tattoo will require more time and money.
A blacked out sleeve tattoo is done by an artist to either cover up an unwanted previous design, or throw in a bold statement to this prominent area of a person’s body. The entire arm is tattooed in black, or white can be added to make a delicate design as a part of the tattoo’s look. If it’s not covered up, a negative space can be left to create a rather unique design. Blackout sleeves won’t happen overnight. Plenty of sittings are involved in this painstakingly slow process, as well as the obvious pain that comes before and during healing. Getting a blacked out sleeve tattoo isn’t a quick fix, but rather, a tattoo decision that requires 100% of the artist and the client’s commitment.
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.
Jump up ^ Broadwell, Albert H. (27 January 1900). "Sporting pictures on the human skin". Country Life. Article describing work of society tattooist Sutherland Macdonald Archived 3 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine. refers to his clientele including "members of our Royal Family, among them H.R.H. the Duke of York, H.I.M. the Czarevitch, and Imperial and Royal members of Russian, German and Spanish courts...."
Jump up ^ The Times (London), 18 April 1889, p. 12: "A Japanese Professional Tattooer". Article describes the activities of an unnamed Japanese tattooist based in Hong Kong. He charged £4 for a dragon, which would take 5 hours to do. The article ends "The Hong-Kong operator tattooed the arm of an English Prince, and, in Kioto, was engaged for a whole month reproducing on the trunk and limbs of an English peer a series of scenes from Japanese history. For this he was paid about £100. He has also tattooed ladies.... His income from tattooing in Hong Kong is about £1,200 per annum."

Sleeves aren’t very easily hidden so make sure to check the policies at work to ensure you can’t get in trouble for new body art. You may be able to hide the pieces pretty well at first but as time goes by and more of your skin is covered, you’ll definitely not be able to cover up the sleeve forever. More than anything, have fun and enjoy the process of creating this masterpiece that will be part of your body forever.
The first thing you will notice about the above designs is that the color looks amazing and really pops off the skin. This can mean a few things. Firstly that the tattoos are relatively recent or otherwise that the tattooist used good quality ink and the person has taken good measures for after care on their tattoos which is very important, especially given that you can spend upwards of $1000 on a tattoo nowadays.
81. There’s a lot of variation in this piece which makes it appealing to the casual observer. There’s a keen sense of continuity in the art. The bird has such a vivid appearance that makes it real looking. The attention to it’s detail in every feather is done really well. The way that the branches swerve all around makes it appear less life like but very interesting. The artist brings an added zing with the red flower at the wrist and it’s interesting how the artist implemented the canvas’s skin as part of the backdrop.
More important than ever is finding an artist who specializes in the kind of tattoo you want. Gualteros, for example, specializes in realism tattoos, as well deep black designs, and that’s what most of his customers want from him. He says to shop around with this as your biggest requirement, instead of shopping for prices. After all, you’ll be wearing this thing prominently for all your days, so it’s not worth bargaining. “Set up a design consultation to talk through your ideas with the artist,” Gualteros says. “Play around with a sketch, and if everything goes well—if artist and client are on the same page—set up the appointment and get it going.”
From a contrail heartbeat to exact coordinates of a place that touched your soul forever, these designs were created for hardcore backpack fans, and they will definitely inspire you to pack your bags. Scroll down to check out the awe-inkspiring pictures below and if you don't want to limit yourself to land and sea, we've gathered an awesome cosmic tattoo list too!
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Ancient tattooing traditions have also been documented among Papuans and Melanesians, with their use of distinctive obsidian skin piercers. Some archeological sites with these implements are associated with the Austronesian migration into Papua New Guinea and Melanesia. But other sites are older than the Austronesian expansion, being dated to around 1650 to 2000 BCE, suggesting that there was a preexisting tattooing tradition in the region.[37][40]
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