TATTOO SLEEVES 101: Tips & Tricks to Follow When You’re Planning a Full Sleeve

Who doesn’t love a gorgeous tattoo sleeve that covers an arm or leg from end to end? Whether it’s on your arm from the shoulder to wrist, or your leg from under the pelvic bone down to below the ankle, tattoo sleeves can be an inspiring and lengthy process. Sleeve tattoos are usually planned out beforehand with your tattoo artist and built up over time as you add more ink to the area during each session. If you are thinking of dedicating one of your limbs (either arms or legs) to a big tattoo project, we thought it would be helpful to provide some tips and tricks to keep in mind.

There are many different styles and themes that can be incorporated into a tattoo sleeve. Some popular choices include

  • Black and grey
  • Color
  • Traditional/Old School
  • Japanese/Oriental
  • Realism
  • Neotraditional
  • Watercolor
  • New School
  • Polynesian
  • Geometric
  • Biomechanical
  • Trash Polka
  • Blackwork
  • Surrealism

Deciding which style fits you best can be an important aspect to consider, so take your time looking at tattoos online and on social media sites. Also be sure to allow ample time to brainstorm with your friends, partner, family, and of course your tattoo artist (for more on that, keep reading below). Throw around ideas as to what is striking your fancy and dig into books, online platforms, and even the world around you to find inspiration. Start making lists and narrow them down as you go. You can even offer up multiple ideas and see what your tattoo artist feels comfortable designing and planning for.

Once you decide what type of tattoo style you want your sleeve to be, it’s important to be mindful of who you choose to create this project for you. Narrowing down which artist is right for the job can be challenging, because each tattooist brings their own unique style, flair, and vibe to the game. Utilize the wide world of social media and take time to explore your options. Be sure that you dedicate time to checking out a variety of portfolios.

Once you decide on the tattoo artist for the job, be sure to keep these tips in mind as you work with them to plan the project:

  • How will the placement of different parts of the design work with your particular body type and symmetry?
  • How large is the canvas that the artist has to work with? Remember that leg sleeves require quite a large amount of work in order to cover the entire area, so consider how large you make each particular design, portrait, etc.
  • Are there older tattoos anywhere on the intended sleeve area, and if so, how will the design you hope to have tattooed mesh with the previous ink?
  • What will your budget be and how many sessions does your artist think it will take to complete the sleeve? Remember that this can vary and will most likely fluctuate as you work on the project, as there are always unexpected things that come up, extras that you and the artist might want to add, touch-ups that need to be done, etc.
  • Be mindful of yours and your artists’ schedules and try to plan out appointments ahead of time, if possible.
  • Plan for the aftercare process and take excellent care of your tattoos after each and every session.
  • We have some great aftercare blogs to check out  to get you through the healing process.
  • In addition, we highly recommend keeping Wipe Outz™ Tattoo Towels stocked up to help you through every step of the process. Not only are Wipe Outz towels non-toxic, biodegradable, and vegan, they also make cleaning your tattoo more efficient, less messy, and more convenient. They are safe to use on your skin and safe for the environment too! Stock up today and set your mind at ease for the aftercare stage of the tattooing process.

Good luck with your tattoo sleeve process and enjoy watching these significant areas of your body morph and transform as the project slowly comes to life!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.