How To Plan Your Sleeve Tattoo


What Is A Sleeve Tattoo? 

A tattoo can be considered a ‘sleeve’ if it covers the majority, or all, of your arm. It could be a collection of smaller designs like patches, or an overall theme that creates a block of art. They are a common, wildly popular type of tattoo that’s super expressive and timeless. So how should you plan your own sleeve tattoo?  

Should I Get A Sleeve Tattoo? 

We’re not going to lie, it’s a big commitment. So seriously, think about it. We want you to consider your skin as art, not a regretful decision. If it’s your first tattoo, or you’re not sure whether you want to dive into a full sleeve, talk with one of our experienced tattooists for advice. But if you’re keen and ready, then it’s time to start the design process!

Look At Masterpieces 

The best way for you to develop an idea of what kind of sleeve tattoo you’d like is to look at the work of pros. TOP TIP: At this point you should decide whether you want to roll with a black and white tattoo or a coloured one. When looking at other tattooists’ designs, pay attention to the themes and design elements used to tie the whole sleeve tattoo together. Think animals, a nature scape, puzzle pieces, space . . . After all, sleeve tattoos are more than a collection of smaller tattoos. They tell a story, so decide what you want yours to be. 

Where To Place Your Sleeve Tattoo

Before being swept up in the energy of designing your tattoo, you need to think practically. Consider how noticeable you want your tattoo to be, because let’s face it, it’s going to be very visible. If you’d like to wear shirts and jumpers without revealing your tattoo, a half sleeve tattoo to your elbow might be best. Your art might be personal, or you might not want to invite the comments of colleagues at work, so carefully plan the placement of your tattoo. But the drama of where to place your tattoo doesn’t end here. Not all tattoo designs are suitable for the elbow (think of a face that changes expression when you move!) and some sections don’t age as well – like the tricep. If you’re not sure what sleeve length you should commit to, book an appointment with one of our tattooists for a consultation. 

Design Time 

Colouring, inspiration, theme, and placement? Check! It’s time to design your sleeve tattoo and there are a few ways you can do this. Many artists will only tattoo their own art and will stay true to their particular style. So if you already have an artist in mind, check if they are open to other designs. If not, they will have a portfolio for you to choose from (which is often just as fun!). Otherwise, you can turn to professional tattoo designers online for help. 

Choose Your Tattoo Artist 

You will want to find a tattoo artist that has an artistic style similar to the sleeve tattoo you want. They need to be experienced with sleeve tattoos, work for a reputable tattoo parlour, and comply with a high standard of hygiene. Ultimately, make sure you partner with an artist that guides you while understanding and accommodating your vision. TOP TIP: Take recommendations from people you know and look at reviews online before reaching out to an artist.


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