It’s the permanence that makes me weep. As if the Joker had made face paints from acid. Your youthful passion for ever on display, like a CD of the Smiths stapled to your forehead. The British Association of Dermatologists recently surveyed just under 600 patients with visible tattoos. Nearly half of them had been inked between the ages of 18 and 25, and nearly a third of them regretted it.
A lot of us have imagined ourselves with those same kinds of full-arm sleeves. For some, it could work well with our no-fucks-to-give persona. For others, it's an aesthetic decision, or an emotional one. If you’re serious about it though, then it’s worth knowing what planning is involved—from inception, to execution, to maintenance. So we spoke with Nicolas Gualteros, tattoo artist at Senaspace in NYC, to plot it all out.
Another thing to consider while deciding on your tattoo sleeves is whether you’ll go with color or not. Sleeve tattoos using only black and grey can look amazing, but there’s nothing more eye-catching and vibrant than an arm full of color. If you do go with color, it’s vital that you plan your tattoo beforehand so you don’t end up with a combination of colors down the road that don’t look too great together. Also keep in mind that a colored sleeve tattoo will require more time and money.
"If the tattoo has small, tight intricate details, they will be lost with time as the cells change and move," Gehrlich says. "When the design is larger, there is more room for displacement and allows the design to still be readable." As your skin ages, your tattoo will change. Getting a larger design may help you prepare for the way it will look later on.
24. The eye here has a reflection in it that is impossibly hard to do. The statue looks real and the contrast the artist was able to convey is just unreal. This piece is one of our favorites because it evokes such emotion to the observer. The eye makes your heart ache as the candles represent some sort of vigil or homage to someone or something in the past.
Regardless, if you are going to start with a single tattoo, in any location, be sure to tell your artist that your eventual end goal is a full sleeve. “She or he can leave the piece in a way that it can be added to in time,” Gualteros says. “Basically, to get the best result for this, you should ask for flow.” (That’s tattoo-artist speak for “something that will flow nicely with other designs”.)
In the period of early contact between the Māori and Europeans, the Maori people hunted and decapitated each other for their moko tattoos, which they traded for European items including axes and firearms. Moko tattoos were facial designs worn to indicate lineage, social position, and status within the tribe. The tattoo art was a sacred marker of identity among the Maori and also referred to as a vehicle for storing one's tapu, or spiritual being, in the afterlife.