Considering A Tattoo Sleeve? Consider This…

Considering a Tattoo Sleeve? Consider This…

First things first: Since your tattoo is a permanent mark on your skin made by a penetrating needle, that means that it is (a) going to be there for a long time (b) painful and (c) technically an open wound until it is 100% healed. It is really, really (really) important that you work with a professional tattoo artist (not a scratcher you met though a friend),  and that you are in a safe and sterile environment (to avoid things like horrible skin infections, Hepatitis, HIV, or anything else that can be transmitted via needles and or blood).

Ok, so you are thinking about a sleeve, aptly named because a tattoo sleeve covers your arm –or leg! – like a piece of clothing, either half, three quarters or full. You are in good company, as men and women all around the globe are wearing ink sleeves as personal statements of style.

Here are some important considerations to think about when getting ready to start a sleeve, or to have a sleeve made by adding to or covering existing tattoos.

Placement of Sleeve Tattoos: 

When choosing where to place a sleeve design, think about what how “exposed” you want the piece to be. Consider your daily life, work dress code restrictions, and of course, based on your design, what makes the most sense on your body. A particular design that looks great on one guy’s arm may not be the best choice on his girlfriend’s leg. Always ask, and trust, your artist.

Color or Black and Gray for your Sleeve Tattoos: 

Because sleeve tattoos take up a lot of real estate, they are a great canvas for lots and lots of color. Many popular sleeve designs, like mermaids, flowers and mythical or religious scenes, really pop when done in full color. That’s not to say that black and gray won’t work for your sleeve. You know who to talk to about it? Your awesome artist.

Cost of Sleeve Tattoos: 

Never, ever compromise the quality of your tattoo work because of money. Like with everything else in this world, you get what you pay for. Do a google search for “bad tattoos” if you need further convincing. Talk to your artist about the time and money involved in creating your tattoo sleeve. How much you invest in your tattoo will of course depend on its size and the time it takes to flawlessly execute.


Because a tattoo sleeve, whether it’s full or half or three-quarters, provides a lot room for your artist to work on, there are practically endless styles to choose from. Do your homework, find good reference material to share with your artist, and be ready to have a good conversation with your artist about what will work best for you – traditional, new school, portraits, abstract, anime, or a tattoo sleeve based on a particular artistic genre or style.