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.
Laser removal is an option, says Jared Jagdeo, a dermatologist at University of California, Davis. Tuned to a wavelength specific to a tattoo's colors, "lasers are able to break apart tattoo particles," he says. The bursts of energy bust ink "from larger boulders into smaller rocks, and then into fine pebbles which then can be swept away by the lymphatic system."
"Aftercare plays a crucial part in a tattoo aging well," Tyson Weed, custom tattoo artist at Divinity Tattoo in Phoenix, AZ, tells Bustle. "First, you have to allow the tattoo to heal properly. If a tattoo is allowed to heal properly there’s no need for a touch up." So if you follow your tattoo artist's instructions word-for-word, you're more likely to have a tattoo that looks amazing through the years.
Tattoos are strongly empirically associated with deviance, personality disorders and criminality. Although the general acceptance of tattoos is on the rise in Western society, they still carry a heavy stigma among certain social groups. Tattoos are generally considered an important part of the culture of the Russian mafia.
Sleeve tattoos are a collaboration between a tattoo artist and customer to demonstrate a personal and unified artistic theme. Other times, a sleeve is created when a person has many smaller tattoos on their arm and later has them connected with background tattooing to form a sleeve. Planned sleeves generally require many long hours of tattooing and can take weeks, months or years to complete.
Tattooing involves the placement of pigment into the skin's dermis, the layer of dermal tissue underlying the epidermis. After initial injection, pigment is dispersed throughout a homogenized damaged layer down through the epidermis and upper dermis, in both of which the presence of foreign material activates the immune system's phagocytes to engulf the pigment particles. As healing proceeds, the damaged epidermis flakes away (eliminating surface pigment) while deeper in the skin granulation tissue forms, which is later converted to connective tissue by collagen growth. This mends the upper dermis, where pigment remains trapped within successive generations of macrophages, ultimately concentrating in a layer just below the dermis/epidermis boundary. Its presence there is stable, but in the long term (decades) the pigment tends to migrate deeper into the dermis, accounting for the degraded detail of old tattoos.
Sure, most of us associate tattoos with the impulsive 25-and-under contingent. But Taylor points out that there are perks to getting your first tattoo later in life (ahem, having had more time to browse for different tattoo ideas for women). "The nice thing about getting older is that everyone else around you is getting older too," she says. In other words, you can basically do whatever you want without the ruthless judgment you endured 20 years ago. "If a tattoo is going to bring you joy or confidence, do it," she continues. "My oldest client is 78, and she just got her second one."
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.
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.