You’ve seen them on the street and they just look awesome. So now you’re thinking that you want a sleeve tattoo. In this article I will try to give some insight on different variations of sleeve tattoos as well as what to expect when starting a tattoo process as lengthy as a tattoo sleeve.
What Type Of Tattoo Sleeve Do You Want?
The first thing you need to do, even before choosing a design or theme for the tattoo, is to decide what type of tattoo sleeve you want to get. Variations include full, three-quarter, half, and quarter sleeves. As the names imply each variation defines where the tattoo stops on the arm as measured from the shoulder.
Keep in mind that there will be times when you will want to cover your tattoo such as job interviews, corporate meetings, court, etc. Your choice on sleeve length should be based on your acceptance level of exposed tattoos. Like it or not tattoos do carry a stigma and the longer your sleeve the more difficult it is to cover up.
How Long Does A Sleeve Tattoo Take?
Besides the length of the tattoo sleeve, the bigest factor in the amount of time a tattoo will take is the choice between full-color or black and grey. Full-color tattoos take much longer to complete as every square inch of the skin must be penetrated with ink.
I have two full-color quarter sleeve tattoos. They go from my shoulder to about six inches from my elbow. They are just barely covered by a t-shirt, which allows me to work in a corporate environment without discrimination from tattoos.
Each of my quarter sleeves took roughly 20-22 hours of tattooing to complete. Given my experience a full color sleeve can take as much as 40-50 hours of solid tattooing to complete. My buddy has a full sleeve biomech tattoo in black and grey. His tattoo took only 30-35 hours to complete as it was only black and grey.
As you can see any type of tattoo sleeve is going to take several extended tattooing sessions to complete. Durring this time it is important to keep your tattoo out of the sun so your colors don’t fade between the initial start of the tattoo and the final session. This is more important for color tattoos as opposed to black and grey, but still important.