A lot of us have imagined ourselves with those same kinds of full-arm sleeves. For some, it could work well with our no-fucks-to-give persona. For others, it's an aesthetic decision, or an emotional one. If you’re serious about it though, then it’s worth knowing what planning is involved—from inception, to execution, to maintenance. So we spoke with Nicolas Gualteros, tattoo artist at Senaspace in NYC, to plot it all out.


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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.
Over time, tattoos have served purposes as varied as camouflaging hunters, marking victory in battle, memorializing the dead, telling the wearer’s life story, and symbolizing just how goddamn tough you are. “The tattoo is a form of non-verbal communication,” writes Schiffmacher, who has tattooed the likes of Kurt Cobain and Anthony Kiedis. “This is just as true for the so-called primitive cultures as it is for the supposedly civilized world.”
For three days, I can’t speak to my son. I can hardly bear to look at him. I decide this is rational. The last thing we need, I think, is an explosion of white-hot words that everyone carries around for the rest of their lives, engraved on their hearts. In any case, I’m not even sure what it is I want to say. In my mind’s eye I stand there, a bitter old woman with pursed lips wringing my black-gloved hands. He’s done the one thing that I’ve said for years, please don’t do this. It would really upset me if you did this. And now it’s happened. So there’s nothing left to say.

Ancient tattooing was most widely practiced among the Austronesian people. It was one of the early technologies developed by the Proto-Austronesians in Taiwan and coastal South China prior to at least 1500 BCE, before the Austronesian expansion into the islands of the Indo-Pacific.[36][37] It may have originally been associated with headhunting.[38] Tattooing traditions, including facial tattooing, can be found among all Austronesian subgroups, including Taiwanese Aborigines, Islander Southeast Asians, Micronesians, Polynesians, and the Malagasy people. Austronesians used the characteristic hafted skin-puncturing technique, using a small mallet and a piercing implement made from Citrus thorns, fish bone, bone, and oyster shells.[37][1][39]
Many tattoos serve as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, amulets and talismans, protection, and as punishment, like the marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts. The symbolism and impact of tattoos varies in different places and cultures. Tattoos may show how a person feels about a relative (commonly mother/father or daughter/son) or about an unrelated person.[13] Today, people choose to be tattooed for artistic, cosmetic, sentimental/memorial, religious, and magical reasons, and to symbolize their belonging to or identification with particular groups, including criminal gangs (see criminal tattoos) or a particular ethnic group or law-abiding subculture. Popular verses include John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, and Psalms 23.[14]
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