The length of an arm provides an incredible canvas for a tattooist. They have a lot of space to work with, and it gives them the opportunity to explore complex imagery that reads like a story on the skin. Or if they prefer abstraction, sleeves are the chance to create a collision of patterns. The conceptual possibilities are endless. Some artists completely cover the skin, like Little Andy who transformed the lower half of his client’s arm into a swirling galaxy. But for those that favor the minimalist approach, La Malafede showcases the impact of a single line as it traces the inside of the whole arm.
If you can't decide, there are some sure-fire spots for long-lasting tattoos. "[The longest-lasting tattoos are] on flatter, less abused areas of the body like the flat of the forearm, upper arms, shoulders, back and thighs," Toby Gehrlich, tattoo artist at Red Tree Tattoo, tells Bustle. "These areas can usually withstand the test of time." Get whatever you want wherever, but know these spots will likely age the best.
When you opt for a sleeve tattoo, you have several considerations. Do you want your whole arm covered in tattoos, or just half or a quarter sleeve? Your tattoo artistcan help you best decide on the scale and placement of your sleeve tattoo. Some people start with just a few random placed tattoos and bridge them together later with a more significant piece. If you're just starting your sleeve idea, it's the right time to consider the final project and scale.
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”.)