Because these protection papers were used to define freemen and citizenship, many black sailors and other men also used them to show that they were freemen if they were stopped by officials or slave catchers. They also called them "free papers" because they certified their non-slave status. Many of the freed blacks used descriptions of tattoos for identification purposes on their freedom papers.
Half sleeves are usually just a pit stop on the road to getting a full sleeve. You miss the smell of the ink and vaseline and crave the feel of the needle creating a masterpiece on your skin. People often start with a half sleeve before they decide to complete it and finish the entire thing. They are sometimes viewed as incomplete until the rest of the arm is done. They are easier to cover and you don’t necessarily need a long sleeved shirt to cover them.
It's very important to protect yourself against infection if you decide to get a tattoo. Make sure the tattoo studio is clean and safe, and that all equipment used is disposable (in the case of needles, ink, gloves) and sterilized (everything else). Call your state, county, or local health department to find out about your state's laws on tattooing, ask for recommendations on licensed tattoo shops, or check for any complaints about a particular studio.
Richmond, Virginia has been cited as one of the most tattooed cities in the United States. That distinction led the Valentine Richmond History Center to create an online exhibit titled "History, Ink: The Tattoo Archive Project." The introduction to the exhibit notes, "In the past, western culture associated tattoos with those individuals who lived on the edge of society; however, today they are recognized as a legitimate art form and widely accepted in mainstream culture."
"Bold black text and American Traditional tattoos still look badass when they fade," Villani says. "It's kind of like how distressed jeans look cool [...] This may seem excessive for most people, but planning how a tattoo will look as it ages will be a fist bump to yourself in the future." If text or traditional tattoos aren't exactly up your alley, you can ask your tattoo artist if you can incorporate darker lines or more negative space into your design.