The Japanese sleeve tattoo has long been accepted as a symbol of both spiritual and social status. Although after World War II, the Emperor of Japan was quick to outlaw them since he wants to improve the country’s appearance. And much like anything else that gets outlawed, people began envying what they couldn’t have – Which is what happened in the case of the Yakuza, also known as the Japanese mafia. The Yakuza weren’t the only ones to adopt the traditional art of tattooing – Foreigners did the same as well. The Japanese style sleeve tattoo has a beautiful floral design, a deep meaning, as well as a colorful motif.
Shop around for artists. The biggest mistake people make is designing their own tattoo before picking out an artist. That design is going to change because no two artists will draw the same object in the same way. Every artist has their own style and flair. Pick one you love based on their style, and work with them to visualize your ideas. If you want a shark tattoo, and the artist doesn't have a shark in his/her portfolio, it doesn't matter. Every artist can draw a shark. It's how they draw it that matters. Once you pick out an artist you like, do some research on what makes a good tattoo artist and see if they check off everything on the list. Aside from style, professionalism and personality are equally important factors.
More important than ever is finding an artist who specializes in the kind of tattoo you want. Gualteros, for example, specializes in realism tattoos, as well deep black designs, and that’s what most of his customers want from him. He says to shop around with this as your biggest requirement, instead of shopping for prices. After all, you’ll be wearing this thing prominently for all your days, so it’s not worth bargaining. “Set up a design consultation to talk through your ideas with the artist,” Gualteros says. “Play around with a sketch, and if everything goes well—if artist and client are on the same page—set up the appointment and get it going.”
Despite all our advances in technology, the basic needling technique used to insert pigment into skin hasn’t changed all that much over time. The biggest change came when the electric tattooing machine was first patented in 1891. That technology has remained relatively stagnant since–aside from prisoners’ ad hoc redesigns, in which a cassette recorder, an electric razor, or electric toothbrush can be used as a motor. These jailed tattooists’ inventions show just what desperate lengths people will go to to turn a boring patch of bare skin into something that better expresses the self underneath.
To help you, at least a little, we got some design suggestions from Sean Dowdell, co-owner of Club Tattoo, which has locations in Las Vegas, as well as Mesa, Tempe, and Scottsdale, AZ. Dowdell's team has inked celebs like Slash, Miley Cyrus, Amar’e Stoudemire, Blake Shelton, Steve Aoki, and Keith Sweat. We asked him for suggestions on the most popular types of tattoos today—and ones that will look good with time, instead of feeling dated to a certain decade.
Tattoos, especially sleeves, are quite a commitment. When creating your sleeve look, decide if you want them to all tell one story or if you want them to each be separate. Take into consideration if you want there to be space in between the images or words or if you’d prefer there to be no empty space. Creating your look is fun but it can be time consuming so don’t be discouraged if it takes more than a couple days to decide on your pieces. Take some time to evaluate how much this sleeve will cost and take into consideration that it will take time to heal your pieces before you can draw over something. This could be a months long or even years long process. Patience will breed a beautiful result.
An important note to consider, whether you’re just getting your first tattoo or are a veteran of the process, is your nervous system. Anywhere that the skin is thin—feet, hands, or clavicle—you will experience enhanced sensitivity. Concomitantly, in places where an abundance of nerves run close to the surface—upper inner arm, back of the knee, hip and groin area, and lower back—tattooing will be more painful.
Remember that you will need touch ups. “Anything with a bold composition is usually easy to touch up and bring back to life, as is black and gray blending,” Dowdell says. “If you had a tattoo of a lion in black and gray—let's assume that the composition is solid but the application not so much—then it’s easier for us to go back into it and re-sculpt it into a legitimate piece of art and make it look better.”
Sleeves are not easily covered unless you have a long sleeved shirt on. Some people choose to stop their sleeve before their watch so that people in the workforce can’t see it, even when they shake someone’s hand. Other people choose to extend the work past their wrists and onto their hands. It’s a personal preference and different for every individual.
Tattoos have recently started to become more prominent than before. There’s not one part of a person’s body that hasn’t been touched by a tattoo. This form of ink art has been placed on pretty much every minor and major areas of the human body. A lot of men like having sleeve tattoos, since they give quite an impressive look, especially when they use a good design and the color combination is excellent. It’s also advisable, and even appropriate at times, to pick a good sleeve tattoo for men, when you compare it to getting inked on other parts of the body.
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You can also go for portraits of fictional characters considered by many as a badass. Examples of which include Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) from Game of Thrones, Darth Maul (Ray Park) from Star Wars, the T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the Terminator films, and Blade (Wesley Snipes) from the Blade films. Be sure that the tattoo artist is well-experienced in the portrait department, though.
According to George Orwell, coal miners could develop characteristic tattoos owing to coal dust getting into wounds. This can also occur with substances like gunpowder. Similarly, a traumatic tattoo occurs when a substance such as asphalt is rubbed into a wound as the result of some kind of accident or trauma. These are particularly difficult to remove as they tend to be spread across several layers of skin, and scarring or permanent discoloration is almost unavoidable depending on the location. An amalgam tattoo is when amalgam particles are implanted in to the soft tissues of the mouth, usually the gums, during dental filling placement or removal. Another example of such accidental tattoos is the result of a deliberate or accidental stabbing with a pencil or pen, leaving graphite or ink beneath the skin.