FILE TATTOO: Sleeve Tattoo
Photo credit: Design trends

By Funmilola Olukomaiya

A Sleeve tattoo or tattoo sleeve as the name implies is a large tattoo or collection of smaller tattoos inked to cover most or all of a person’s arm.


This tattoo type is audacious and not for the faint-hearted because when getting one, it’s either you go big or go home!

One of the tried and true spots on the body for getting inked is your arm and be sure to get attention especially when you wear the art gracefully without getting intimidated by anyone.

For tat enthusiasts who want to paint an entire masterpiece on their arms, a full sleeve is an excellent option to explore.


As charming as this body art can be, big, bold, overpowering tattoo sleeves don’t suit everyone’s style. But if this is your only idea of a sleeve tattoo then we must say you’re missing out on a world of possibility.

Sleeve tattoos are usually considered the middle ground between full-back or front pieces and small tattoos.

Sleeve tat has become a preference as it provides a good amount of canvas for the artist, with lots of potentials to create something unique when inking a design.


For tat lovers considering getting a sleeve tattoo, there are some considerations you should keep in mind that will help you to be sure your experience will be a positive one, and help you wear your sleeve with pride.

1. Does It Hurt?

As always, there is some potential for pain, but given that your sleeves are exposed to the elements on a daily basis and come in frequent impact content at work, play, sports, and more you will have developed thicker skin here when compared to other parts of your body. More pain will be felt in the upper part of the forearm as you approach the funny bone (where the ulnar nerve resides) and on the ventral zone.

2. Types of Sleeve Tattoos
There are four main types of sleeve tattoos you can choose from.

  • Quarter sleeve tattoo
    Photocredit: Pinterest

    A quarter sleeve tat covers the area from the shoulder to about halfway to the elbow, slightly lower than where a T-shirt sleeve would end.

  • Half sleeve tat
    Photo credit: Pinterest

    The half-sleeve is from the shoulder to the elbow.

  • Full sleeve tattoo
    Photo credit: For Creative Juice

    A full sleeve is from the shoulder to the wrist.

  • Japanese style tattoo hikae
    Photo credit: Pinterest

    The Japanese style tattoo hikae, which can be a half-or full sleeve that reaches over the shoulder and onto the chest.

The type of arm sleeve tattoo you settle for will depend on what you want and how much time and money you’re willing to commit, as well as, the design of the tattoo.

3. Design of The Tattoo
Again, a sleeve tattoo is highly visible to the public so you will want to put a lot of thought and planning into the design. The more you know what you want, the more you can communicate to your prospective tattooist, and the happier you will be with the end result.

Getting the right artist and a reputable tattoo studio is key because there is simply no room for error because it is going to be visible for all to see.

4. Does Your Work Permit Rolling Up Your Sleeves?
From research, the primary thing that kept a lot of employees from getting a sleeve tattoo is their career. This is because concerns have been raised on how their bosses/colleagues will perceive them; therefore, tattoo lovers are inclined to opt for more covered areas until they become their own bosses. But then, studies have shown that visible tattoos can help with many careers to the point that it’s becoming an invaluable branding tool.

If you’re not sure what piece is best for you, do your homework by researching ink-redible sleeve tattoo ideas that will suit your personality.