Since the Disney movie The Little Mermaid, the mermaid form has been a popular style for both costumes and tattoos alike. Above you can see a cool example of an under the sea style theme on the forearm. Silhouetted styles are generally safe choices as the thicker line work makes them last longer and less intricate line work that can potentially be messed up or fade over time.
But that’s how it is! Sure, from a distance the sleeves make them look tough, but these guys know better than anyone how to ink up their arm in a strategic, meaningful way. Think of all the factors they've got to juggle: Choosing an artist can realize their vision, putting together the cash, sitting for all those hours, and then caring for the new tats so they don't need any touch ups—all over the course of weeks, months or years!
Today's the day, you're ready to commit, and you just know in your heart — it's tattoo time! Now you need help figuring out how to pick a full tattoo sleeve theme. I've been on a mission for Bustle, interviewing tattoo artists all over the Bay Area. My goal has been to learn more about tattoo sleeves so I can help ladies who are ready to go under the gun, but still need more information. I've covered what part of a tattoo sleeve hurts the most and facts to know before getting started. I wrote a piece answering how long does a full sleeve tattoo take and how to deal with aftercare. But I honestly think picking the theme is the most exciting part.
Some people know the subject matter that they’d like to have done, but haven’t figured out what they want it to look like. Use the internet to search for ideas, taking full advantage of great inspiration sites like Google Image or Pinterest to see art others have had done. If you find something you like, but want your own take on it, print it out and save it for your appointment with one of our tattoo artists; they can take a look at your pulled images and design a tattoo that is absolutely unique to you!

Each militarybranch has their own restrictions pertaining to tattoos. As of April 2007, the United States Marines Corp. banned tattoo sleeves except for those already grandfathered in prior to the policy change. If you plan on enlisting you can forget tattoo sleeves for now. This consideration must also be made for employment. Potential employers may have regulations banning sleeve tattoos or any visible tattoos for that matter. If you must stay sheathed from shoulder to wrist, you'll be hot in the summer.


The word tattoo, or tattow in the 18th century, is a loanword from the Samoan word tatau, meaning "to strike".[1][2] The Oxford English Dictionary gives the etymology of tattoo as "In 18th c. tattaow, tattow. From Polynesian (Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, etc.) tatau. In Marquesan, tatu." Before the importation of the Polynesian word, the practice of tattooing had been described in the West as painting, scarring or staining.[3]
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