Planning a Sleeve Tattoo


Having a tattoo sleeve done is a big commitment. It will require more of your time and strategic planning than would be necessary for a simple small hand-sized tattoo. Choosing an image from a selection of artwork illustrations on a tattoo artist’s wall or off the internet is not an option here.

Careful thought has to go into style and theme of this display. You will need to carefully choose the artist who will take on the entire program of a tattoo sleeve. After all, this will take more than one session and can take several weeks from the first etchings to the final one. The sleeve tattoo would need to be drawn by the same artist, so lengthy discussions need to take place before you can begin.

There are Different Types of Tattoo Sleeve Covers

The quarter sleeve tattoo covers the area from the shoulder down to the section just above the elbow. A half sleeve tattoo covers again from the shoulder all the way until the elbow. The full sleeve design goes all the way from the shoulder and down to the wrist.

There is an even greater sleeve tattoo than the full and that is one that covers the chest area as well as the arm. It has origins in Japan and is known as the Hikae.

Planning your Sleeve Tattoo

A lot of thought has to go into this. But there is also a lot of planning too. You must expect hours of pain and this needs to be worth it. Think about the theme, motif and design you want and consider the amount of colours you wish to use.

A tattoo sleeve should not be over-elaborate. It might be best to consider a series of illustrations rather than just one figure. Particularly if you opt for a full sleeve tattoo, as this can only be viewed by the observer in sections, rather as a whole.

Give the Artist Some Freedom

Whilst it is your body and you need to choose the artwork that will be displayed on it, the tattoo artist should be given some freedom as to how this design pans out. A sleeve tattoo is a bit like telling a painter or mural designer to commission a work of art. The ideas and themes needs to come from you – but any adaptations should come from the artist. The artist is the expert here and their efforts should be taken into consideration.

This post was written by J Michael Taylor. J Michael Taylor is an artist and owner of Black Amethyst Tattoo Gallery. Black Amethyst is a tattoo shop St Petersburg Fl. They provide an art-first approach to custom tattooing in a gallery setting.

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