"You can never go wrong with black and greyscale tattoos," Villani says. "Black ink lasts better than any color ever will [...] Bright and vibrant colors look great at first, but tend to fade the quickest. This is often why watercolor tattoos are frowned upon. They tend to not always last the test of time." So, if you and your artist are brainstorming a design, remember to consider color as part of the equation.
Don’t expect to get a huge tattoo, or series of them, in just one sitting. They just take too long. Gualteros has some clients who fly in from overseas, and who then spend a few solid days getting big-scale tattoos completed. But that’s a special case. “Usually it’ll happen over more time,” he says. “It could take months, it could take years. Usually, you leave 3-4 weeks between appointments and a sleeve can require anywhere from 8-10 sessions.”
The elaborate tattoos of the Polynesian cultures are thought to have developed over millennia, featuring highly elaborate geometric designs, which in many cases can cover the whole body. Following James Cook's British expedition to Tahiti in 1769, the islanders' term "tatatau" or "tattau," meaning to hit or strike, gave the west our modern term "tattoo." The marks then became fashionable among Europeans, particularly so in the case of men such as sailors and coal-miners, with both professions which carried serious risks and presumably explaining the almost amulet-like use of anchors or miner's lamp tattoos on the men's forearms.
However, not everyone digs deep when it comes to the reasons behind tattoos. There are men who simply get tattooed because they think it looks good on them. Men who think of tattoos this way often go for the most badass tattoo designs around instead of meaningful ones. Because if they want to look good with tattoos, they might as well go big and choose the most masculine and the most impressive.
If you want an animal-based tattoo, the most obvious choices include lion tattoos, tiger tattoos, and wolf tattoos. The bigger the design, the better. Eagle tattoos are also excellent choices, especially when done on the upper back with the wings extending all the way to the shoulders. If you want badass animal-based tattoos inspired by different mythologies and religions, Hinduism is an excellent place to look into. There’s Ganesha (elephant), Narasimha (lion), and Garuda (eagle).
Perhaps even then this was a fashion statement, a badge of belonging. Or just what you did after too much rum. Later, the aristocracy flirted with body art. According to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (they know a lot about tattoos), Edward VII had a Jerusalem cross on his arm while both his sons, the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York (later George V), had dragon tattoos. Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston’s mum, had a snake on her wrist.
Not everyone in society will appreciate a good tattoo and sometimes you might be forced to attend functions where showing off your tattoo might not be appropriate. For the neck, head, face or finger tattoos this can pose a challenge when it comes to concealment, but the sleeve tattoo will enable you to conceal your tattoo if you have to attend gatherings where the crowd is not very tattoo-friendly. The sleeve tattoo in this case becomes an advantage and underneath the shirt, you still get to maintain that symbol that means something to you.
The length of an arm provides an incredible canvas for a tattooist. They have a lot of space to work with, and it gives them the opportunity to explore complex imagery that reads like a story on the skin. Or if they prefer abstraction, sleeves are the chance to create a collision of patterns. The conceptual possibilities are endless. Some artists completely cover the skin, like Little Andy who transformed the lower half of his client’s arm into a swirling galaxy. But for those that favor the minimalist approach, La Malafede showcases the impact of a single line as it traces the inside of the whole arm.
The Japanese sleeve tattoo has long been accepted as a symbol of both spiritual and social status. Although after World War II, the Emperor of Japan was quick to outlaw them since he wants to improve the country’s appearance. And much like anything else that gets outlawed, people began envying what they couldn’t have – Which is what happened in the case of the Yakuza, also known as the Japanese mafia. The Yakuza weren’t the only ones to adopt the traditional art of tattooing – Foreigners did the same as well. The Japanese style sleeve tattoo has a beautiful floral design, a deep meaning, as well as a colorful motif.
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.