Top 101 Forearm Sleeve Tattoo Ideas – [2020 Inspiration Guide]
Starting at the elbow and stopping at the wrist, forearm sleeves are far from conservative. However, with pieces as talented as these ones below, it’s easy to show off you ink with the utmost pride.
While forearm sleeves are in a different category than say hand or neck tattoos, their still quite hard to miss. Let’s face it, the forearm is a prime place for being noticed.
Sure, you can wear a button down shirt to work and cover them up at first, but at some point in the day a little ink is going to be revealed to all the wandering eyes around you. Just something to keep in mind.
Of course, a few years ago this style might have been considered a job stopper as they like to say, however, times are certainly changing. In fact, sleeves whether they be full, half, quarter or forearm have seen a huge surge in popularity among modern gentlemen.
With that in mind, I’d like to share a collection of the top 100 best forearm sleeve tattoo designs for men with you. In this guide you’ll find a handful of different ink styles alongside plenty of inspiration for your next piece of art.
However, before you jump on in to this guide, consider the fact that the elbow is perhaps one of the most painful places on the body to get a tattoo. What you might really like best about the forearm is having the opportunity to ink below the elbow it while still having plenty of skin to work with. Needless to say, when planned out right you can easily avoid a lot of unwanted pain.
1. 3D Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
An interesting trend that is gaining popularity in the tattoo community uses clever tricks and an expert application of ink to create designs that give the impression of having three dimensions. The two most common methods used to create this optical illusion are drop shadows and forced perspective.
Drop shadows create the effect of the tattoo sitting up, off the skin, while forced perspective is most successfully used to create the effect of being able to reach into the tattoo. These 3D forearm sleeves demonstrate how successful this approach can be when applied to a variety of different subjects.
2. Skull Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
Skulls are up there with swallows and roses for most tattooed images, ever. People love getting these macabre symbols of our limited time on earth permanently tattooed on their bodies, and for good reason. The dramatic appearance of these ghastly images makes them the perfect subjects for tattoos, and forearm sleeves are no exception.
While most of these tattoos take a realistic approach, skulls can be applied in a variety of styles, from American traditional to the colorful skulls of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos.
3. Asian Influenced Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
Some of the most stunning and visually impressive tattoos come from the Japanese tattoo tradition known as irezumi. This style, known for its vibrant colors and design elements drawn from ancient Japanese life—think samurais, geishas, and koi fish—was one of the main inspirations for the American traditional school of tattooing.
This style is also characterized by the whorls of smoke and clouds and crashing waves that are used as background filler. These forearm sleeves are inspired by this Asian tradition and use it as a starting point to create interesting and unique tattoos.
4. Nature Themed Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
We all come from nature, and because of this it is no surprise that people have the desire to incorporate scenes from the natural world into their tattoo designs. From cascading waterfalls and towering evergreen trees to babbling brooks and rolling hills, Mother Nature provides plenty of material to work with. These forearm sleeves draw inspiration from the natural world and utilize a number of different styles and approaches to create these singular odes to nature and our place in it.
5. Interstellar Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
While some people look to the world around them to find inspiration, others look to the stars. The amorphous and vibrant nature of distant nebulas are perfectly suited for color tattoos while the endless black of space can be utilized to create a dark background that increases contrast and helps the other design elements to pop. These forearm sleeves demonstrate just how stunning interstellar designs can be.
6. New School Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
New school designs are characterized by vibrant colors, and these sleeves do not disappoint. A variety of subject matter is utilized in these pieces to great effect. From collage like compositions that use a limited color palette to create a dramatic piece, to hyper-realistic depictions of natural phenomenon these forearm sleeves are great examples of what is possible with this approach.
7. Clock and Compass Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
Traditionally, two of the most useful tools in everyday life, clocks and compasses also hold deep significance beyond their utility. When incorporated into tattoos clocks are powerful symbols of the limited time that we have in life, slowly and relentlessly counting down the seconds until one day…lights out.
The compass on the other hand, represents drive and determination, pointing out the true direction of one’s life and serving as a reminder to stay the course. These excellent forearm sleeves perfectly demonstrate what is possible when using these powerful images in tattoos.
8. Geometric Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
A growing trend in the tattoo community is the incorporation of complex geometric patterns and shapes into unique designs, and these forearm sleeves are examples of what is possible with this approach.
Many people choose to incorporate patterns that are used in Sacred Geometry thanks to the deeper significance that these designs are believed to hold in relation to the true nature of the universe. Other people use geometric patterns from the natural world, like honeycombs or nautilus shells to demonstrate the perfection of nature. Whatever the significance, they make for excellent tattoos.
9. Black and Gray Forearm Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
The subtle elegance that is captured in black and gray tattoos is undeniable, and these forearm sleeves perfectly reflect this subdued sensibility. Fully saturated black ink is used to create the darkest portions of the designs, while smooth gray wash shading creates the variation of tones and negative space provides the highlights. With only black and gray ink, a talented artist is able to create scenes and imagery that are reminiscent of film noir and classic black and white photography.
10. Animal Themed Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
From the wild animals that roam the jungles and savannahs inspiring fear and respect, to the dogs and cats curled at our feet, humans have a complex relationship with animals that goes back thousands and thousands of years. It is no wonder that people choose to permanently decorate their bodies with them.
Different animals are also often anthropomorphized and attributed with different characteristics: lions are brave, crows are mischievous, and an elephant never forgets. This added significance makes animals even better subjects and these forearm sleeves are great examples with animals as the focal point of tattoos.
11. Forearm Tattoo Sleeves Featuring Roses
Another common design element, the rose has been getting inked on people’s skin for over one hundred years. It really is no surprise that people choose to get flowers tattooed given the deep cultural significance they have; from weddings to funerals, flowers are present for most of life’s major milestones.
Not to mention the way that the scent of a specific flower can instantly transport you to another time and place. While roses are most often associated with romantic love, the variety of symbolism behind this interesting flower makes it perfect for tattoos.
12. Forearm Sleeve Tattoos Featuring Faces
Human beings are hard wired to recognize the smallest details in the face, which is why we are instinctively drawn to faces. It is for this same reason that they make for such interesting tattoos.
While a black and gray, photo-realistic approach is the most common method for applying portraits there are a number of different styles that can be utilized, as these stunning forearm sleeves demonstrate.
13. Neo Classical Forearm Sleeve Tattoos
The intense visages of the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology were originally carved in marble, forever capturing their stern countenances and these stone representations are equally as compelling when recreated in black and gray ink. The dramatic stories and circumstances surrounding these neo-classical gods propel these forearm sleeves to the next level and help complete these mind–blowing tattoos.
Forearm Sleeve Tattoo FAQs
How much does a forearm sleeve tattoo cost?
In a perfect world, the only factors at play in deciding on a new piece of ink would be style, size, placement and significance. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and tattoos cost money. Because of this, a personal budget and the price must be carefully considered before jumping in the chair. Thanks to their popularity, many people are choosing to get forearm sleeve tattoos, but how much do they cost?
As with anything, there are a number of factors to be considered when calculating a tattoo’s cost. The skill of an artist and how long they have been working as well as the location, popularity and notoriety of the shop are all key factors in determining a tattoo price.
The size is also important as this dictates how long a tattoo will take and how much ink will be used. Finally, the style is important when considering price: highly detailed designs that utilize vibrant colors will cost more, while simpler designs with a limited color palette will usually cost less.
All things considered, a forearm sleeve will most likely fall somewhere between $300 and $1200 USD, and while this may sound like a lot of money, a personally meaningful and quality tattoo is truly priceless.
Did you enjoy these forearm sleeve examples? Click on the links below for more awesome lower arm tattoo galleries: