Tattoo sleeves are defined as a large tattoo or a bunch of small random designs that when placed together cover most of the arm. A serious and committing tattoo style, sleeves start at the shoulder and continue down, usually carrying a centralized theme. While sleeve tattoos continue to rise in popularity, especially among women, you should always consider the following before opting for a full arm of art.
Placement and Size
When you opt for a sleeve tattoo, you have several considerations. Do you want your whole arm covered in tattoos, or just half or a quarter sleeve? Your tattoo artist can help you best decide on the scale and placement of your sleeve tattoo. Some people start with just a few random placed tattoos and bridge them together later with a more significant piece. If you're just starting your sleeve idea, it's the right time to consider the final project and scale.
Color or Black and Grey
Tattoo sleeves often look their best colorful. Whether you opt for traditional old school tattoos, mermaid or pin-up designs, or an armful of colorful flowers, adding vibrant details to your tattoo sleeves can really really make them pop. When you select your designs, analyze the colors as well. There's nothing worse than despising orange on your skin only to sport a huge Tiger Lily later. Often overlooked, this step is important so pay attention. Your artist isn't going to analyze or know these things about you so think about them first and speak up.
Each military branch has its own restrictions pertaining to tattoos. As of April 2007, the United States Marines Corp. banned tattoo sleeves except for those already grandfathered in prior to the policy change. If you plan on enlisting you can forget tattoo sleeves for now. This consideration must also be made for employment. Potential employers may have regulations banning sleeve tattoos or any visible tattoos for that matter. If you must stay sheathed from shoulder to wrist, you'll be hot in the summer.
Many people start their tattoo sleeves without intent and that's just fine. If you take the organic approach and let one small tattoo turn into another and somehow tie it all together with a background of some sort later, you'll likely have an armful of meaningful body art. Others go full on with a sleeve from the get-go and that works too. Of course, with this approach, you'll be investing a larger sum of money upfront, and you'll need to dedicate the time in the chair to complete the work. Most likely you'll be going back to the same artist which means their schedule will need to be considered as well. If you have the time and the money to complete the job, get it done. Otherwise, start a slower and more balanced approach. Never compromise quality for quantity.
Down the Road
No one wants to be told how to feel about their tattoos ten, twenty, or fifty years down the road. The truth is you might hate your tattoos or you may love them. There's no way to tell if you'll have regrets. The best advice for tattoo sleeves is to stick with a theme and then invest time into your idea from start to finish. Consider your job, future, and your lifestyle. Avoid name tattoos when you can and, by all means, spend the time to find a few good artists to create a pleasing display.