How to Create a Tattoo Sleeve

Written by james gilmore
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How to Create a Tattoo Sleeve
A tattoo sleeve is a big commitment. (Sexy tattoo man image by MAXFX from

A tattoo sleeve is a large tattoo that takes up the full length of an arm, resembling the sleeve on a shirt. Getting a tattoo sleeve is a big step, as it takes up a great deal of space on the body and can cost a lot of money. You can create a tattoo sleeve by incorporating your favourite designs and considering factors such as time and money.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Brainstorm ideas for your tattoo sleeve. Consider elements that mean something to you personally and/or that you enjoy from an artistic standpoint. For example, if you're really into music, you could get a sleeve tattoo that incorporates several images relating to music, such as musical notes or portraits of rock stars. If you already have some tattoos on the arm on which you want to get a full sleeve, consider a design that will blend well with the existing tattoos.

  2. 2

    Contact a tattoo artist that you feel will be able to execute your sleeve tattoo the way you envision it. Visit tattoo conventions, browse artist portfolios and visit tattoo shops to find the right artist for you. You'll need to hire an artist with experience in creating sleeves, as the expertise required to create a full sleeve is more than what it takes to complete an individual tattoo.

  3. 3

    Consult with your tattoo artist on the design of your tattoo sleeve. Give him a design of your own or have him design one for you. Give your feedback on the design leading up to the first session to ensure the tattoo sleeve is the way you want it. Make sure you have a design in which all of the elements blend in well with one another.

  4. 4

    Make an appointment for your session/sessions. Decide whether or not you want to get an instant sleeve in one daylong session or break the process up into several sessions depending on your finances, threshold for pain and how much thought you want to put into your design. For example, you might decide to incorporate a new element into your sleeve several sessions in, something you'll be unable to do if you get the sleeve done in a single session.

  5. 5

    Go to your session/sessions with your finished tattoo sleeve design and begin the process.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider the effect that a tattoo sleeve will have on your employment and lifestyle before getting one.
  • Choose elements in your tattoo sleeve design that work well together, not just because they happen to be interests of yours. For example, if you like vampires and dolphins, consider how well these images will work together in a tattoo sleeve.

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