Suppose you have been considering whether or not to get a tattoo sleeve. In that case, there may be some questions flowing through your mind about what you can and cannot do when it comes to getting a tattoo sleeve, such as are there guidelines about what you can do? Do tattoo sleeves have to match?
Tattoo sleeves do not have to match or even have one general theme. Tattoo sleeves can be mixed and matched if you would like them to be, or you can make them uniform and blend together, but it is entirely your decision as the client – there are no rules you have to stick to.
When it comes to your tattoo sleeve, you do not have any set guidelines as to what you can and cannot do. Tattoos are one of the expressions of who you are; they shine your creativity – which means you should be able to express what you want, how you want it. Let us have a look at what you can do with a tattoo sleeve.
If you are looking for inspiration before your tattoo, check out my portfolio – you can find my works and projects here – on Instagram.
Do All Tattoo Sleeves Have To Have A Theme?
Many people will often choose to have a theme for their tattoo sleeves. That can mean they choose a movie theme, say a Lord of the Rings tattoo sleeve, and they will get images of their favorite characters and quotes from the movie wrapped around their arm.
Other people may choose a geometric theme for their tattoo sleeve and have a beautiful variety of mandalas, and geographic shapes and designs. These can all be put together on their arm with a pattern, or multiple patterns, in-between the designs to bring them all together and make the sleeve more unified.
Although this may be what most people tend to choose when it comes to what they want in a tattoo sleeve, there are no rules that you would need to stick to in designing your tattoo sleeves, and your tattoo sleeve does not need to match.
Your tattoo sleeve does not need to match, and it can be made up of anything you choose.
It can be built up from many different individual tattoos that eventually make a full tattoo sleeve. It can also be a sleeve designed to be a sleeve, but with many little random and unique tattoos in it, as opposed to every tattoo matching each other in some way.
When it comes to the design of your tattoo sleeve, you can be as uniform or wild as you want – it is your body and your tattoo.
It is important to find a tattoo artist who will be open to your ideas and will help you in your creativity. They should guide you in the right direction, helping you find what you are looking to get out of a tattoo sleeve, instead of an artist who might try and force their ideas of what a tattoo sleeve should look like on you.
There is a difference between an artist doing their job to help guide you so that you do not end up with a bad tattoo on your arm, and a tattoo artist who will simply want to have their own way. Make sure you find a tattoo artist who is skillful and also open-minded to your ideas.
How Do I Make My Tattoo Sleeves Match?
If you are wanting your tattoo sleeves to match, there are many different ways to go about this.
Firstly, you would need to decide on what style of tattoo you are looking for. Are you wanting a Disney sleeve? A movie-themed sleeve? Or are you looking for an eye-catching sleeve like photorealistic animals? Or maybe you are looking for a traditional style of tattoo, such as an American traditional or Japanese style tattoo?
There are many different tattoo styles you can choose from, and this is the first and most important step when choosing what you want out of a tattoo sleeve.
After you have decided on what theme or style of tattoo you would like, you will need to go on the hunt to find a tattoo artist who is talented or even specializes in this style of tattooing.
Once you have found your style and your artist, you now get to the fun part. You and your artist will sit down together and plan out the entire design of your sleeve; this is where you will be able to see how everything mixes, blends, and matches with each other, so a lot of thought needs to go into it.
Once your design is done and you are happy with how it looks, the tattooing journey begins – and it will be a journey, as getting a tattoo sleeve can be anywhere from three extremely long tattoo sessions to ten or more medium length tattooing sessions.
It would be too hard on your body to get an entire sleeve in one sitting and too much work for your tattoo artist to get through in one go. It is better to get a matching tattoo sleeve in multiple different sessions.
The best way to make your tattoo sleeve match is to pick a style or theme, find a well-suited artist for that style or theme, and then stick with it.
TheFour Different Kinds Of Tattoo Sleeves
There are four main different types of tattoo sleeves for you to choose from:
- Hikae sleeve – This is a piece that covers from your pec/chest to your elbow or wrist.
- A full sleeve – A full sleeve tattoo is a piece that covers your entire arm from shoulder to wrist in tattoos.
- A half sleeve – A half sleeve is a piece that covers your arm from your shoulder to your elbow.
- A quarter sleeve – The quarter sleeve is a piece that covers your arm from above the shoulder to about halfway to your elbow.
The type of tattoo sleeve you choose will often depend on the style of tattoo you are looking at getting.
Your artist will be able to help guide you in this decision as they will really know what will work best for you, your style, and the placement of your tattoo.
Your Options For Tattoo Sleeves
If you have or are planning on to get, a tattoo sleeve on both arms, there are a few ways you could choose to go about it:
If you choose to make your tattoo sleeves match, they can be matching in many different ways. You can make both sleeves have the same theme, such as they both have a nature theme, or you could make them both black and white to match, or similarly, you could make them both have the same color pallet and more.
Having coordinated sleeves can be really cool. You can have an element that moves from one arm to the next, such as a heart where there is one half of the heart on either arm.
You could also choose to have your tattoos be the opposite of each other; for example, one arm can be a “life” arm, full of beautiful blooming flowers, and your other arm would be a “death” arm where you have wilted grass and dead trees, or a “day” arm and a “night” arm.
There are many creative and unique ways to have coordinating tattoo sleeves, and you and your tattoo artist could have a lot of fun putting the designs together.
You could also choose to have two tattoo sleeves that have nothing to do with each other. For example, you could have one geometric black and white tattoo sleeve and have your other tattoo sleeve be completely made up of pictures of your dog.
Again, there are absolutely no rules when it comes to what you want to do with your arms and your tattoos; you have free will.
The one thing you may want to do upfront is to choose whether or not you want to have your sleeves match, coordinate, or be different, just so that it is not too late if you start a dog sleeve and then decide that you actually want both arms to coordinate, and you end up needing to throw a paw print into your geometric sleeve to try and make it work.
Find a style you like, decide on themes if it is applicable to that style, find an artist and get designing.
Your tattoo sleeves are your own and can be as weird or tame as you want them to be, so make sure you have an artist who you work well with and understands your wants.
Some of my favourite designs, tattoo books and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Deasign and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my Clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish,
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori,
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my Clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):
Looking for more info about tattoos? I might have them covered!
I have written almost 100 articles about tattooing – with details about each body part, problems that you might have with your tattoo, designs, styles, aftercare, and much more.
Have a look at the search option and see if you can find what you need here.