Getting a Sleeve Tattoo

Three-Quarter Sleeve with Skulls
Three-Quarter Sleeve with Skulls
So you're thinking about getting a sleeve tattoo, eh? Well, in order you make sure you'll love the end-product, it pays to do some thinking and planning before getting started. Below are some things you should do before deciding to get inked.

Pick a Size

What size do you want your sleeve tattoo to be? As described on the What’s a Sleeve Tattoo page, sleeve tattoos can come in different sizes: quarter, half, three-quarters or full.

Pick a Location

Where do you want your sleeve tattoo to be located on your body? The most popular sleeve location is on the upper arm, usually on your dominant side.

Pick a Theme

Sleeve tattoos usually look best when they have a common theme tying everything together. There are lots of different themes to choose from when thinking about what you want for your tat. For ideas on themes, check out our Sleeve Tattoo Designs page. You may want to consider adding your own twist on an existing theme to make your tattoo even more special.

Pick Some Tattoos

If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll probably want to pick some smaller tattoos that will be a part of your sleeve. If you’ve already got some existing tattoos in your desired location, determine if you want to keep them or try and cover them up with your new sleeve. Again, choosing tats that are relevant to your chosen theme will enhance the look and flow of your tattoo sleeve.

Find a Tattoo Artist

If you’re new to tattooing, choosing a tattoo artist is one of your most important decisions. Make sure you do your homework when choosing a tattoo artist. The last thing you want is for your beautiful design to be implemented poorly, resulting in a disappointing tattoo that lasts a lifetime. For more information, visit our page on Selecting a Tattoo Artist.

Talk to Your Tattoo Artist

Once you’ve found a tattoo artist and have some concrete ideas for your tattoo in place, go talk with your tattoo artist to get their advice. Ask them what they think about how your design will look, whether the location makes sense and what they might do differently to make it look better. Going through this process will help you become more comfortable with your tattoo artist and your tattoo design. If you have the feeling that your tattoo artist doesn’t share your vision, consider interviewing another artist to see if someone else might be a better match.

Prepare For Your Tattoo

Depending on what location and size you choose, you’ll probably need to visit the tattoo parlor more than once to finish your tattoo sleeve. Talk with your tattoo artist about putting together a schedule to make sure you know how many times you’ll have to get inked and how much the entire tat will cost. Thinking ahead will save you the trouble of walking around with a half-finished tattoo because you ran out of money!