125 Most Daring Sleeve Tattoos For Men & Women

Tattoos are a highly recognized form of body art and body modification. Tattoos involve ink or pigmentation being inserted into a person’s skin to permanently change its color. Tattoos are actually an ancient tradition and has since grown in popularity and has become more and more accepted in society.

Sometimes tattoos were often seen as an act of rebellion against an otherwise conservative society. However, this is actually one of the reasons why a lot of people still don tattoos on their body. A tattoo can find their way onto a person’s skin from something that’s life-saving and necessary, to something that’s purely accidental.

Tattoos have shown up in various parts of the world in different eras and time periods. Several techniques and styles used for creating tattoos have developed in certain areas. Eventually, these techniques all came together, much to the joy of tattoo artists and enthusiasts alike.

The art of tattooing actually does this interesting thing when combined with a human body – It never fades and stays in your skin for a long period of time, perhaps forever. But for those who want to have intricate tattoos on their body yet don’t want them to last for a lifetime, you can find other methods which are only temporary but are just as pretty, such as sticker tattoos and henna tattoos.


There is plenty of evidence which suggests that our prehistoric ancestors knew and even practiced tattooing rituals, thanks to tools discovered in areas like Portugal, France, and some parts of Scandinavia. These tools date back to 12,000 years ago and were exclusively used for creating tattoos. The oldest surviving tattoos were the ones found on a mummy called Otzi the Iceman, whose body was discovered in the Otz valley near the Austrian alps. The mummy dated back to the 4th or 5th millennium, BC. Historians also knew that Celtic and German tribes also applied tattoos on themselves. Another famous mummy, the Mummy of Amunet in ancient Egypt, as well as more mummified bodies discovered in Siberia (from the 2nd millennium BC) all had tattoos on their bodies. So this concludes that tattoos were already known across the globe early on.

Ancient India and Egypt utilized these tattoos as a way to heal their bodies, and as a form of religious worship. They eventually became a mark of upper or lower status in society, or as a form of punishment. In the Philippines, tattoos were meant to serve as marks of accomplishments and rankings for native tribes, and some of them believed that they held magical properties, keeping the wearer safe from harm.

During the dawn on Christianity, tattoos were declared to be a barbaric tradition. It began fading away in places like Europe, but gradually made a comeback from transoceanic travels in the 16th century, thanks to explorers like William Dampier, Sir Martin Frobisher, and Captain James Cook. They carried home with them indigenous people from the remote islands that they visited, and these natives often sported tattoos.


Types Of Sleeve Tattoos For Men

  • Japanese sleeve tattoo – For the longest time now, Japanese sleeve tattoos have since been accepted as a sign of spirituality, as well as having a higher or lower social status. However, the emperor of Japan quickly implemented a ban on tattoos after World War II, saying that he wants to improve Japan’s public image after the country sided with Germany. Similarly in many countries around the world, laws tend to be broken by certain groups, such as the case of the prohibition of liquor in the USA, which spawned organized criminal syndicates. So, the Yakuza was born, Japan’s answer to the Italian Mafia. But not only did the Yakuza’s members practice real hard in the art of tattooing to create gorgeous and intricate designs, foreigners who lived in Japan did the same thing too. In sleeve tattoo designs, Japanese tattoos would often incorporate themes such as flowers, which are both colorful and carry a deep meaning at the same time.
  • Angel sleeve tattoo – An angel sleeve tattoo isn’t just limited to gentlemen or religious tattoo enthusiasts. In fact, angels can represent all sorts of things, ranging from suffering and pain, to positivity and protection. The word ‘angel’ comes from the Latin word ‘angelus’ meaning ‘messenger’. One of the reasons why angels are a popular sleeve tattoo design is because of the belief that angels have the ability to travel from heaven to earth, and vice-versa. Since angels work as a servant of God, their main mission is to protect the realms in between earth and the heavens as a guardian. They’re also meant to guide and protect humans against the forces of evil and temptation from demons. It has been said that if a person is about to die, their angels will be there to escort them to the afterlife.
  • Koi fish sleeve tattoo – In regards to koi fish sleeve tattoo designs, you can find all sorts of various patterns, colors, and even designs for its scales. A lot of koi tattoos come in the following shades: Cream, white, blue, yellow, red, or black. But the most popular item has to come from the Gosnake, which includes artists such as Kohaku, Tasiho Sanshoku, and Showa Sanshoku. However, among all of these various koi tattoo designs, there exists a common theme: Good fortune and luck. In Japanese culture, the koi fish is considered to be a symbol of masculinity, with koi-shaped flags rising up in a family’s home when they welcome a baby boy. Koi fish are also regarded as a sign of passion and love. There are plenty of other koi tattoo designs which contain a much more specific meaning, such as red koi, symbolizing nature, masculinity, and strength. Black koi tattoos are meant to symbolize overcoming change with victory. Blue koi represents challenge and reproduction. Koi sleeve tattoos are often accompanied by a dragon, which goes back to the myth of Chinese yellow river dragons. Another design that gets paired up with a koi tattoo is the ying-yang symbol, which represents harmony and balance between the elements.
  • Tribal sleeve tattoo – This achieves the peak of rugged, masculine style. Its complex and beautiful patterns are associated to our ancestors’ rites of creating scars and marks on their bodies. In fact, tribal tattoos have already been around even before tattoos as a whole were accepted by society. A lot of historians have claimed that these tribal tattoo designs became one of the first forms if ink-based body art created by man. Plenty of tribal and aboriginal groups make extensive use of these tribal tattoo designs – One example being to mark a boy’s growing maturity. The designs used by these tattoos were oftentimes associated to the state of reaching adulthood. A lot of tribes still use this practice today.


Meaning Of Sleeve Tattoos For Men

Sleeve tattoos reached mainstream popularity during the 2000s, thanks to the advent of social media, and reality television shows like Ink Master, Miami Ink, and its spin-offs, LA Ink and NY Ink. These TV programs delivered mainstream tattooing culture into people’s homes, and even turned tattoo artists like Kat Von D into celebrities themselves.

A sleeve tattoo can have plenty of meanings or even none at all, depending on how large or small it is. Having a half-sleeve tattoo meant that you want to have a serious career but show off your creativity at the same time. And when you have a full-sleeve tattoo, you prefer to live by your own rules, and not stick to a mediocre job like everybody else.

Most sleeve tattoos look great on bulky, masculine arms because these parts of the body will capture the attention of nearly everyone. A lot of these illustrated forms of body art will give men a manlier and macho, rugged look. it delivers an appealing effect, especially towards ladies who like and appreciate tattoos. Men like to show off their new sleeve tattoos in a lot of casual events like parties, by wearing sleeveless shirts or tank tops. This can also catch the attention of looks from other individuals, from random admirers to artistic souls, to those who might just be a tad bit jealous of your ink. Keep working out to keep those legs and arms looking toned and muscular, and your tattoo is going to look better even as you get older.

Men’s Sleeve Tattoo Placement

Sleeve tattoos are a giant tattoo that takes up the entire arm or leg, or at least half of it. It can also refer to an assortment of tinier tattoos, which are all connected together by a common theme. Sleeve tattoos will occupy most of the person’s arm, starting from the wrists going up to the shoulders. It gets its name because it resembles a long shirt sleeve.

Oftentimes, people who own or want a sleeve tattoo will use the phrase ‘getting sleeved’ when the tattoo session is in progress. A huge leg tattoo that takes up the entire leg can also be referred to as a sleeve tattoo.

And thanks to its sheer intricacy and large size, sleeve tattoos require lots of planning, and hours upon hours of tattooing. This is pretty much the same as a front panel tattoo, or a full back tattoo. Getting the sleeve tattoo done can take days, weeks, or even months. These types of tattoos will need plenty of teamwork in between the client and the artist themselves, so they can represent a unified and personal artistic theme in the design.

Apart from the full sleeve, there are also half-sleeve or quarter-sleeve tattoos. These only occupy a short part of the wearer’s arm. For a sleeve tattoo to be considered as such, it must cover up a particular area. This means that a half-sleeve should cover up the entirety of the lower or upper arm. Quarter sleeves can take up the area of your skin beginning from the shoulders midway up to the elbows.


Back in the day, the US Marine Corps would stop their men from acquiring a sleeve tattoo on their arms or legs. This happened until April 2007. Meanwhile, marines who already have sleeve tattoos beforehand are protected under a grandfather clause. A couple of other organizations have also given out some rules to prevent sleeve tattoos, among their members. But that aside, these tattoo sleeves have grown in popularity recently and are mostly comprised of transparent mesh fabrics and have been printed on with several great designs.

If tattoos are your thing, then you will know that the human body is the ultimate canvas. However, our bodies will obviously differ in a critical way from the artist’s canvas: Whereas you can hide away a finished painting behind closed doors or keep it inside a huge storage closet, your skin stays with you wherever you go, and whatever you do. Of course it’s highly important to love and appreciate your new tattoo design, but at the same time it’s just as equally important to put it somewhere that you’ll get to enjoy.

Be sure to decide how visible you want that new ink of yours to be. We now live in an area where tattoos are becoming increasingly more and more common. But some careers still consider even the smallest tattoos to be ‘job killers’. A tiny tattoo, meanwhile, won’t be too much of a hindrance for employment compared to a sleeve tattoo.


Men’s Sleeve Tattoo Preparation Tips

If you ever feel like you have to take some medicine right before the session begins, then be sure to ask your artist ahead of time if the medicine you’ll take can affect the entire process. Usually following the directions and instructions written on your medicine bottle and taking just a small amount of Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Midol is normally fine, but you mustn’t expect it to remove the pain of the needle. Another issue is that they can end up thinning out your blood, making the entire tattooing process difficult and lengthier than usual. If you take these painkiller medicines regularly, then you need to ask your doctor ahead of time if tattoos are an excellent idea.

Never drink coffee or any caffeinated drinks like soda or energy drinks before you enter the shop. Like the painkillers, this can also thin out our blood, and make you fidgety and hard to keep still. You could need a doctor’s note in case you have certain medical conditions such as a heart condition, a bleeding disorder (like hemophilia) or if you must take some antibiotics before you visit your tattoo shop of choice. The consent form which you have to sign later on contains a list of these conditions. But don’t worry – If you tell your artist that you have one of these conditions, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get a tattoo anymore. It only means that you have to carry a doctor’s permission with you the next time you return to the shop. Your artist and doctor just want you to be safe when you get that tattoo, so you have to understand that they only care about your well-being.


You must also show up on time during the appointment. Keep in mind that sometimes your artist will still be busy tattooing another client when you come in – You’ll be delighted to know that an artist will normally take in some additional time to make sure that their clients are happy and content once their turn is up. Please try to be understanding. You can use this additional time to make yourself comfortable with the atmosphere, to look for the bathroom, fill out certain paperwork, and chat with the staff or receptionists. This is always an excellent idea in case you have to call them for assistance when you’re getting the tattoo done. Tattoo shop employees and staff are always ready to help you out when you need it, as long as they’re not too busy entertaining other clients.

Get some rest after the tattoo session is over. Taking plenty of time to chill and relax for a bit while admiring your new body art can actually help out with the healing. Eating lunch or dinner is always helpful since getting a tattoo will make you feel hungry and tired afterwards, even if you’ve only been sitting on that chair for a couple of hours.

Pain To Expect During and After Getting  Sleeve Tattoos For Men

Oftentimes when a tattoo artist lacks experience, they could end up pushing the needle down too far and make it pass through a lower layer of skin. Not only can this be very painful for some, it can create a condition called a tattoo blowout.

A slight burning sensation is a bit of a combination between the two types of pain: A scratching pain, and a sharp, piercing pain. However, the burning pain is much closer to a scratching pain compared to a stinging one. Getting a burning pain while being tattooed is much more common on areas of the body which are repeatedly being worked on using the tattoo gun, along with those areas which have more fat and muscle on them.

This sort of pain isn’t really intense but rather annoying for some, but similar to the scratching pain, it could end up wearing you out mentally after a short while.

A vibrating sort of pain is a rather unusual thing to experience during the tattoo session. This means you could end up feeling this type of pain when you’re getting the tattoo done over your ribcage, wrist, ankle, or anything bony. This also includes the outer elbows or even the spine. And as the tattoo gun’s needles come into contact with your bones, they are likely to hit against the area several times at very high intervals, causing a strong and vibrating feeling.

This type of pain isn’t even considered excruciating or sharp in plenty of cases – But it’s far from a pleasant feeling either. In fact, the less fat or muscle you have on top of a bony area, the bigger the possibility for you to experience this strong, burning sensation.

The best kind of pain to experience is the background or dull pain. People are lucky when they experience this kind of pain, which sounds a bit weird. When the tattoo gun’s needle makes a couple of passes on top of your skin at the beginning of the tattooing session, this pain would end up feeling rather intense. And if it’s your first time to get a tattoo, you could end up thinking ‘Enough is enough! I want to end already!’

But not to worry – After a couple of minutes, your body’s stash of adrenaline, along with several other hormones, will start kicking in, and the pain will become tolerable and fade into a dull background pain. This is how your body actually deals with the current trauma. You may end up drifting in and out into this type of tattooing pain through the whole session, and you could experience it more in case you’re busy doing something else, like chatting with the artist or reading a book.

Sometimes your body will end up snapping back to reality and you have to deal with excruciating pain for a short while – But hopefully the dull pain will come back again after that. Always remember that the longer you sit at the tattoo chair, the bigger the possibility it is that your pain will run out of numbing hormones.


Frequently Asked Questions Re: Sleeve Tattoos

  • How long does it take to get a sleeve tattoo?
  • The average time needed to complete an arm sleeve tattoo is up to fifteen hours. However, depending on your tattoo’s size, it could take multiple sessions with a total of eighty hours. You could end up stopping by the shop for weeks or even months. It all depends on how elaborate the design really is, and how long it takes your body to fully heal up in between sessions.
  • Do you do custom tattoos?
  • If you have plans to get a custom tattoo at the tattoo shop, then gather as much reference material as you possibly can, so your artist can have a clue about what design you’re aiming for. The things you need to consider are: Where you want to place the tattoo on your body, the size, the style of the tattoo, and of course, the subject and design. It also helps to take a look at the artist’s gallery before deciding if this is the shop for you.
  • Where can I find some cool sleeve tattoo designs?
  • These tattoo designs are something that stays on your body forever – And this is why tattoos are highly individual and one-of-a-kind. A professional tattoo artist can help you out with a certain idea you have, and the two of you will be able to plan out your ideal design, so you can get a tattoo that’s uniquely yours. And if you have a particular tattoo design in mind, go and look for some photos, and bring them to your artist. This lets them work on a custom design.
  • Can I drink alcohol beforehand?
  • On the day of your tattoo appointment, don’t even think about drinking any alcohol – Or even the night before the appointment. Alcohol is a known blood thinner, and can cause you to bleed more than usual while you get that tattoo done.
  • What’s the best time of the year to get a tattoo?
  • You can pretty much get a tattoo at any time of the day – But professional artists say that winter is the best time to visit your shop and book an appointment. That’s because winter makes everything cold, and you won’t have time to swim in a pool and expose your new tattoo to chlorine pools. There’s also less sun exposure during the winter time, and too much UV rays can be detrimental to your tattoo’s recovery.


Average Service Cost & Standard Price For Getting Sleeve Tattoos

There isn’t any typical standard cost meant for designing tattoos. So if you prefer a huge tattoo design that takes up a large portion of your body, then this always means it’ll cost more compared to the average tiny tattoo design. There are loads of places out there for you to get a tattoo design done for only half the price of a standard tattoo. However, keep in mind that this particular tattoo design you have in mind might not be up to par with an experienced tattoo artist. Doing research on these tattoo shops and having to meet up with several tattoo artists to talk about what kind of design you want can give you an idea about how the service goes, and how much a tattoo really costs.

The standard price of a sleeve tattoo can go up to $1,500. The entire, process, meanwhile, will take at least up to forty hours of work, all split into different sessions. A full-sleeve tattoo can take over 15 hours at the minimum, without pausing for breaks. Each hour costs $100. And of course, if your tattoo’s design contains plenty of color and shading, then you can pay as much as a whopping $4000.


Men’s Sleeve Tattoo Maintenance Tips

The last couple of steps during a tattoo’s healing process is slow – But it’s a part which requires your utmost patience. A lot of the bigger scabs will already have flaked away during this period and fallen away by that time. Tiny bits of dead skin and scabs can show up, but they’ll eventually clear up as well as your tattoo continues to heal.

Flaking skin and accompanying scabs can make the area look dull and dried up. Putting on some moisturizer and keeping the tattoo safe from the sun can surely help you with these issues. The outer layer of your skin has to be fully healed up by the end of the third week. Meanwhile, the innermost layers of the skin could take a while to heal up, but they don’t need too much maintenance from you.

The chance of your tattoo acquiring an infection is permanently reduced after the outer layers of your skin have all healed up – Since there’s no longer any blood or open wounds for bacteria to infect. Keeping your skin moisturized during the months after you have gotten your tattoo will make it look clearer and brighter than usual. Keeping the tattoo well-protected against the sun with loose clothes while it heals up and putting sunblock after it’s fully healed is very important, especially during the first couple of months.

During any stage of the healing process, your body might end up rejecting a particular pigmentation or tattoo ink color. If your body ends up becoming allergic to tattoo ink, a painful and raised rash can show up on the skin. To avoid this, plenty of tattoo artists will perform an allergy test using the color in question by placing a tiny amount onto your skin. If a reaction occurs, then the ink is not safe to use.

An ink allergy can happen since most tattoo pigments contain a lot of various substances. For instance, red pigments contain mercury sulfide and black pigments include carbon.

Those who end up experiencing a rash or skin irritation around or on a tattoo should see their doctor right away, since they can treat or identify the rash. They may also want to contact the tattoo artist so they can know what’s going on.

Every tattoo artist out there must have a different set of recommendation for the type of moisturizer they should use. The most common recommendations include the following: Coconut oil, aftercare cream for tattoos like Tattoo Goo, alcohol-free ointments like Curel or Eucerin, or pure cocoa butter. Never ever use any scented lotions or creams for moisturizing your tattoo. That’s because these creams can contain harsh perfumes or chemicals which can cause irritation around the wound and harm your skin. Do not use any sunscreen until the tattoo has fully healed up. This can potentially clog the pores and trap all sorts of bacteria, also leading to a possible infection.


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