Sleeve Tattoo Designs


Authored by John Watson in Body Arts
Published on 03-16-2009

Ask anyone who has been tattooed, and they will tell you how addictive it becomes once you get your first piece if ink. It is extremely difficult to stop at just one and many folks come up with ideas for bigger, better designs for their body. If you are looking to expand on something you already have or want to start out with a larger piece then it may be a good idea to consider opting for a sleeve.

Sleeves, as the name implies, are tattoos that cover a large portion of the arm. Quarter sleeves traditionally run from shoulder to around the area where a t-shirt sleeve end.

Half sleeves run from the shoulder to the elbow or from the wrist to the elbow and full sleeves go from the shoulder to the wrist.

There most common designs that you will see are full tribal pieces, a traditional Japanese look, often times featuring a koi fish as a major part of the design, and, very popular among women, floral designs that are very bright and colorful. These are all fine ideas but don’t be afraid to try something different, especially if you want your look to be original and stand out in the crowd.

Many people, me included, opt to go for a theme and build upon that. I went for a horror theme, starting out with a number of larger individual tattoos featuring characters from horror movies both old and new, and built on that by filling in the spaces with stitching and other smaller pieces. It’s a work in progress that I will continue to build on.

Another route that I have seen people follow is to make your arm into a makeshift tattoo artist autograph book, filling the space with pieces from various artists that they admire and trying to tie it together. It may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a carefully planned, thoughtfully laid out design, but it will certainly be original and give you a great number of talking points with other tattoo lovers.

Before you decide to go the way of the sleeve, it’s important to remember that this will be a time consuming, costly venture that will have to be done over a number of sittings. A full sleeve done by a reputable artist will more than likely run into the thousands of dollars. It is not uncommon to see people with outlined, unfinished pieces on their arms as they wait to get enough money together to complete the full design.

As is the case with any tattoo, make sure you do your homework to find a reputable shop and artist that will do your design justice.


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