Sleeve Tattoo Ideas

Written by denise brandenberg
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Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Many people choose a tattoo design that covers the entire arm. (tattoo image by no-Face from

Sleeve tattoos typically cover the arm or leg in one large tattoo or a collection of several smaller tattoos. They can be quarter, half or full-sized depending on how much skin is actually covered, and they often encompass an overall theme or design. It usually takes several hours and trips to the tattoo artist to complete the work, and many people preplan the artwork to ensure the end result has the desired consistency and presentation. There are several types of popular sleeve tattoo designs to choose from.

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Usually monochromatic and composed of complementary patterns and shapes, tribal sleeve tattoos are one of the most common types of tattoo designs. They are similar to the way ancient Native American tribes used to mark warriors and usually wrap around the upper arm and bicep.


Japanese tattoo sleeves are typically comprised of Japanese letters and symbols. They usually incorporate ancient mythological creatures, such as the koi fish, samurai warrior or cherry blossoms. Depending on what type of symbolisation the person wants, a customised design that depicts a personal mantra or strength can be used. For example, the koi fish represents aspiration or advancement, while the cherry blossom stands for feminine energy or life's fragility.


Dragons can represent luck, power, religion and nature, and many people choose to depict them on their arms or legs. They are popular sleeve tattoo designs because of their extensive details and large size. For example, a person might place the dragon's head at his shoulder and allow the dragon's body to wrap around the bicep with the tail ending at the wrist.


These types of sleeve tattoo designs signify a rebel personality, such as a biker. They are sometimes used as body art memorial for a loved one or friend who died, or they might be a symbol of a person's mortality. They can be designed with one large skull covering the majority of the arm or leg or can be comprised of several small skulls.


Angel sleeve tattoos are similar to skull designs, as they may represent a deceased relative or serve as a reminder of spirituality. They cross many religious spectra, as angels are revered in most cultures and belief systems. Sometimes the design incorporates an entire angel, while others use angel wings in combination with other symbols, such as crosses and doves.


The flower sleeve tattoo is popular with women and can represent a wide variety of meanings and symbolism. People with Buddhist beliefs often use the lotus flower which stands for enlightenment or creation, while many mainstream people incorporate roses or daisies. Roses symbolise different types of love, depending on their colour, and daisies stand for innocence and loyalty. Many people use flowers in conjunction with other sleeve tattoo themes because of their broad symbolism properties.

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