Ideas for Tattoo Sleeves of Cities

Written by jagg xaxx
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Ideas for Tattoo Sleeves of Cities
A tattoo sleeve covers the entire arm. (Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Body art that reflects the city you live in is a way to express loyalty to your community. A tattoo sleeve is a large tattoo that goes all the way around the arm and covers either the upper arm or both the upper and lower arm. A sleeve is a prominent tattoo that isn't easily hidden, so be sure that you really love your city before you promote it this permanently.


The most easily recognised aspect of a city, especially for its residents, is its skyline. You can incorporate the skyline of your city into a tattoo sleeve by creating a design that highlights the outlines of famous buildings. This is most effective in cities that host distinctive buildings, such as San Francisco's Pan-Am Building, Toronto's CN Tower or London's 30 St Mary Axe, more commonly known as "The Gherkin." Orient the skyline in the tattoo so it wraps around the upper arm, or create an unusual orientation by extending the skyline down your arm so you can fit the whole thing.


Many large cities have symbols that are universally recognised as representing them. Some better known symbols are New York City's interlocked 'N' and 'Y' and London's red circle intersected by a blue rectangle, taken from the London Underground signs that are ubiquitous in that city. Symbols are ideal for effective tattoos because they tend to be graphically bold and memorable. City symbols can be incorporated into a tattoo sleeve that features other aspects of a particular city to create a memorable geographically based montage.

Famous Residents

Many people who reach fame and fortune hold onto their roots in a particular community, and come to symbolise that place. Their images can be effectively incorporated into a tattoo sleeve to create a work that is a combination of a city celebration, a work of art and an homage to a famous person. Some well-known celebrity-city pairs are Louis Armstrong and New Orleans, Patti Smith and New York City, Prince and Minneapolis and the Beatles and Liverpool.


Historic events sometimes shape the feel of a city and become synonymous with its public image. Because of their dramatic nature, disasters are frequently remembered in the context of the cities where they happened. Some recent examples are the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. Images of disaster events can create powerful tattoo images. Some possibilities are "before" and "after" images of particular locations or memorials to people who died in these events.

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