A tattoo sleeve is a commitment, and as with any commitment you want to put in some careful consideration. You have a general design idea, but now you want to know how far down the arm your sleeve should go. Here’s what you need to know.
6 Things to Consider When Getting a Sleeve Tattoo
A full sleeve is what most people consider to be a sleeve tattoo. It runs from the shoulder all the way down to your wrist. The design is typically incorporated around the whole arm, although some people may prefer to tattoo only the outer and more visible part of the arm to mitigate pain (the inner arm is more sensitive) and to keep costs down (more on budget below).
This is certainly the most “impactful” type of sleeve tattoo.
A half-sleeve runs from your shoulder down to the elbow, with the design typically wrapping around your whole arm. Also known as the arm proper (or brachium), the upper arm is composed of the humerus with the elbow joint at its distal end. You will experience more sensitivity around the elbow joint which you may associate as the “funny bone”. It may not be a laughing matter for those with a low threshold for pain, but the result (a great looking half-sleeve) makes it all worthwhile.
A half-sleeve is also perfect for those who want an impactful tattoo but may need to hide it at their place of work.
Alternatively a half-sleeve can run from the elbow down to the wrist. This is technically considered to be a forearm sleeve. Semantics aside it’s a great way for clients to get the full sleeve “effect” without committing to an actual full sleeve. Unless you’re wearing a tank top or hiked-up t-shirt it will appear as if you have a full sleeve.
A quarter-sleeve runs from the shoulder halfway down the upper arm before reaching the elbow. The design wraps around the whole area. This is a great entry tattoo for those who want a half or full sleeve one day, but for whatever reason (time, budget, or current profession) need to wait.
Logically, the cost for this tattoo concept coincides with the type of sleeve (as per above) you desire. If you want a full sleeve but can’t afford it, start with a half or quarter sleeve. Then follow our guide for how to save money for a tattoo to complete the rest!
The Design / Concept
In the end, there’s nary a more important consideration than the design/concept you want for this important tattoo. The greater the story you want to tell with your design the more canvas you need. But again, the design can also unfold in stages. The beginning of your story can be told with a quarter sleeve tattoo, then when ready it can evolve with another visit to your tattooist for the rest. If this is your game plan, try to map it out over a year or two at most because you want to make sure that your tattooist will still be available to complete the work. For this reason it will be important for you to schedule a consultation (versus a walk-in) and discuss the longterm plans with your tattooist.
Contact an Adrenaline Studios near you (Greater Vancouver or Toronto area) to schedule your consultation.