The Ultimate 137+ Best Sleeve Tattoos in 2021
There’s no doubt about it, entire arm tattoo sleeves are being more widely accepted among society, as are intricate leg tattoos stretching from thigh to ankle.
The talent and creativity is remarkable but so is the time and amount of dedication you’ll need to take to the tattoo shop. Most of these designs have required twenty plus hours minimum to finish.
As a professional, covering a up otherwise visible tattoos are easy, and chances are you’ll be wearing a dress shirt at work anyways.
In this guide of the top 137 best sleeve tattoo ideas, we’ll show you a range of cool designs that are sure to impress and inspire as you prepare for a large ink commitment.
See more about - The Ultimate List of Tattoo Ideas
1. Half Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 53 Half Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Make no mistake. A half sleeve design can look just as good as a full tattoo sleeve if not better.
Some argue that this type of body art looks unfinished, but the truth of the matter is they can look like masterpieces.
Even if you’re not quite ready to go all-in and lay ink down from your shoulder to your wrist, there’s nothing to worry about.
Understand that a half sleeve tattoo can be quite handy in terms of concealment. If you’re not in a creative workplace environment, you might run into unwanted artwork stigma when co-workers, clients, and even your boss glance down at your forearms.
2. Sleeve Traditional Tattoos
See more about - Top 59 Traditional Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Entire arm traditional sleeve tattoos are some of the first incarnations of body art in existence, and they remain among the best large designs even after several centuries.
American traditional tattoos defy modern pragmatism with their uncanny perception of craftsmanship. Most traditional sleeve tattoos incorporate a dynamic range of imagery that is tied together only by the authoritative art style.
A often takes a series of unconnected ideas then use filler options or negative space to round out the rest of the piece.
3. Sleeve Tattoos for Men
See more about - Top 67 Sleeve Tattoo Ideas for Men
Unique have quickly turned into some of contemporary ‘s most sought after designs. have been definitively transformed in the last decade; they regularly feature a conglomerate of art styles that include optical illusions, sacred geometry, meta curiosities or .
Modern technology helps pave the path towards inventive unique , where a can meld any into a cohesive and arresting piece of . ideas. This innovations is especially visible in the realm of
4. Sleeve Tattoo Ideas for Women
See more about - Top 61 Sleeve Tattoo Ideas for Women
With gender stereotypes changing in the world of , for women are rapidly becoming a popular application where once only guys would commit to a whole limb design.
From traditional designs. to contemporary new wave, and black and gray classics, women’s is providing fantastic ideas and technical choices in
The change in mindset is indicative of changes across the wider industry in the last decade or so – there’s nothing too big, too difficult, too weird, or too expensive for any individual looking for quality designs regardless of sex or gender.
5. Japanese Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 121 Japanese Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
There’s no denying the artistic appeal of Japanese with its beautiful colors, outstanding linework designs, deep meanings, and larger than life motifs.
The most heavily adopted Japanese are designs. In the Japanese lexicon, there are a few variations, all designed with being hidden in mind.
A nagasode is a full Japanese arm , the gobu is a on the running to just above the elbow, and the shichibusode features 7/10 sleeves, as if the has been pulled up to mid .
6. Flower Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 49 Flower Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
tattoos are some of the most innovative and interesting designs around. New ideas are getting tested daily by artists and collectors that value the beauty of the natural world.
In contemporary concepts provide large scale and shapely opportunities to test out a range of ideas, from abstract watercolor through to fine detailed mandala patterns, or featuring and . , the popularity of
7. Quarter Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 71 Quarter Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
These smaller tattoos designs start along the upper arm the and stop at the mid bicep, or they can begin at the wrist and end at the middle of the forearm.
Aside from the smaller size what makes a quarter sleeve tattoo idea truly unique is their discreet nature. You still get to enjoy the perks of ink that wraps its way around your arm with a full background, alongside the perks of easily being able to cover them up with clothing when the need or mood arises.
Of course, as time progresses you can always add more ink to your arm. Not to mention, you can stretch out your budget further too and slowly finance the tattoo of your dreams over a longer period of time.
8. American Flag Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 89 American Flag Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
American flag are symbols of patriotism and belief in the American way. Along with the bald eagle, and to some the Declaration of Independence, there are no greater symbols of liberty.
For some men and women, highly with the American flag are emblems of military service, or of selflessness and sacrifice that comes with being a part of the red, white, and blue.
Others admire the symbol as simply a tribute to their homeland and country – a visual reminder of what the United States means to them.
9. Rose Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 61 Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
A rose tattoo is often a solitary bloom or even bunch of bound flowers rendered with simplicity or fine detail.
But they can also be transcendentally cool designs wrought in any style by a skilled tattoo artist looking to flex their creativity and a tattoo machine’s capabilities on large scale floral tattoos.
Rose sleeve tattoos are increasingly popular, as art looks to mirror nature with realism tattoos, beautiful colors and snaking vines, intensely shaded shifts between black and gray, or even a group of vivid flowers running down a limb in riotous color.
10. Tribal Sleeve Tattoos
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Many historians believe that tribal sleeve tattoos were the first ink-based forms of body art in existence.
The intricate linework is typically meant to amplify the appearance of a brawny exterior. Buff arms will thrive by having their muscular contours enhanced by tribal sleeve tattoos.
Tribal groups often implement tribal tattoo as a way to celebrate maturity or special occasions. This symbolic connotation is still intact to this day, and the flesh engravings possess more impact than ever before in tattoo art.
11. Geometric Sleeve Design
See more about - Top 47 Geometric Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Popular belief holds that universal synchronicity consists of mathematical constants that make up the blueprint of life.
The ancient Egyptians and Greeks, as well as East Indian scholars, all revered sacred geometry as a visual vessel through which to reflect on the soul’s education. Since then, geometric creations have been celebrated in all forms of art, including tattoo.
From simple stacked 2-D shapes of varying sizes to more complicated overlapping designs with hidden messages, there is no shortage of inspiring geometric work to choose from.
Full geometric arm sleeve tattoo design requires a great deal of time and commitment for both the tattoo artist and client, but the rewards are infinite.
12. Half Sleeve Tattoos for Women
See more about - Top 47 Best Sleeve Tattoos for Women
Half sleeve tattoo designs are becoming an increasingly utilized form of body art for women, who traditionally opt for restrained sized pieces in favor of crisply precise ink.
The explosion in tattoo designs for women over the past decade has thankfully broadened previous stereotypical views of design styles and placement, which are now some of the tattoo world’s most innovative.
Heart tattoos, roses, and butterflies will always remain popular, but women are now just as likely to rock a badass Biggie Smalls tribute piece and do it with enjoyable creativity.
13. Tattoo Sleeve Filler
See more about - Top 49 Sleeve Tattoo Filler Ideas
There are a range of ways to complete a complex and interesting sleeve tattoo on your arm or leg.
The most overlooked yet crucial element is tattoo filler, the supporting design elements which complement the focal point of the tattoo to help it blend and fit to the entire limb.
14. Tree Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 75 Tree Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Tree sleeve tattoos can range from simplistic celebrations of nature to hauntingly rich landscapes. The roots may also make an alluring cameo, so the trunk should not be overlooked when organizing a tree sleeve tattoo design.
The incorporation of silhouettes is a predominant method for those who enjoy tree sleeve tattoos, and the popularity of this approach stems from a desire to utilize black ink instead of green.
To make the shadowy effect complete, many guys add a source of light like the sun or moon. For a timeless mystique, nighttime is implemented far more often than daytime in this regard.
15. Celtic Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 43 Celtic Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Celtic sleeve tattoos are enchanting emblems that supply a layer of old-school chic to modern body art.
Every Celtic sleeve tattoo tells an original story that instantly compels onlookers.
The essence of intrigue is derived from ancient roots, and Celtic heritage is full of commanding symbolism. Interwoven knots are a central theme from both visual and spiritual standpoints.
See more about - Top 63 Best Lion Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Lions have been a symbol of bravery and physical power for centuries. The sheer force of a lion alone is striking, but what sets lions apart from the other animals of the savanna is their aloofness.
Lions are not just strong – A lion denotes not just power, but command and a regal persona.
This royal authority in combination with power makes the lion the king of all animals. A lion tattoo sleeve is a good choice because it gives the tattoo artist enough space to create a highly detailed portrait or layered scene, and it will also be highly visible.
17. Blackout Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 59 Blackout Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
One of the latest fashions in is the blackout .
Many a gets a blackout to cover up drunken mistakes, but many more just love the look.
The blackout often makes exceptional use of negative space to add a completely new dimension to . Get a blackout and join the movement.
18. Forest Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 63 Forest Sleeve Tattoos Ideas
Humans are endlessly fascinated by the forest and its mystery – it makes for wide ranging, interesting, and deeply personal tattoos.
There is great power in unspoiled nature, a harmony of the different creatures and plants playing their roles, that the forest embodies.
We are also connected to the forest through vacations, adventure, animals and plants, and maybe even the picturesque scenery we can view from our homes.
19. Octopus Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - 50 Octopus Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
The octopus shares similar attributes to water with its fluidity, emotion and spirit.The octopus sleeve tattoo embraces unique traits of the beast that are also significant to human beings.
From their flexibility, natural intelligence and creativity, octopus sleeves are every tattoo enthusiast’s dream design.
Many collectors get an octopus sleeve to remind themselves that through different situations in life, it’s often best to be flexible and use intellect to solve problems. The octopus also has a quick wit and is mysterious in its own way, which are traits that can serve well in many of life’s situations.
20. Skull Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - 50 Skull Sleeve Tattoos
Skull designs will always be a proud staple of the body art universe. One of the best ways to flaunt this appealingly macabre imagery is through the compelling nature of skull sleeve tattoos.
While tattoos have evolved dramatically since their heyday, the skull still persists into modern times and will always remain a central tattoo design idea.
21. Music Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - 60 Music Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
A musical artist or icon, dancing notes across scrolling sheet music, or even the lyrics of your favorite song inked on your arm is not only a conversation piece, it’s a perpetual reminder of what you’re uniquely and artistically passionate about.
Just as there’s no one way to appreciate music, there are tattoo styles for everybody, whether you prefer slight and simple or bold and bright.
Much like a symphony composed using dozens of versatile instruments, a tattoo of your favorite influential artists or even a simple blend of individual notes and keys from your favorite songs is art.
22. Jesus Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - 51 Jesus Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Highlight your connection to a higher authority with a Jesus . The Jesus design full arm sheaths your body in a work of art and faith, and is a staple in .
This arm . can emphasize the central aspects of Christ, from Great King to Good Shepherd. Your arm can be the grand reveal of powerful gospel with a Jesus
More than any other , Jesus sleeves can reveal a story of faith from start to finish.
23. Leg Sleeve Tattoos
See more about - Top 85 Leg Sleeve Tattoo Ideas
Sleeves are big steps in any ‘s quest for full coverage, and full designs are just as important as those placed on the arms.
Any number of concepts and designs can be utilized and ideas are as varied and diverse as the people that wear them.
Some people choose a hodge-podge approach where a series of ideas. This approach works particularly well for American traditional work. are tied together by use of filler tattoos, or breaking up elements into thigh, hamstring, shin, and calf
Other people use a more holistic strategy that uses the entire as a large canvas for a single .
Sleeve Tattoo FAQs
There is no fixed price for a full sleeve tattoo. The hourly rate of tattoo artists for large scale pieces’ average at about $100, depending on the skill and tenure of the artist, size of the tattoo, the complexity of the design and the length of time to execute the art work.
A full sleeve tattoo may take about 10-15 hours depending on the design, so a full sleeve tattoo may cost from $1,000 to $1,500. But if there are more colors involve and the level of intricacy is high, cost can run up to $7,000.
There are celebrity tattoo artists whose waitlist is too long that it’s almost impossible to get an appointment. Scott Campbell is one of the most sought after at $2,000 per. Kat Von D at $220 per hour. Bangbang, the tattoo artist from New York whose client list include Justin Bieber and NBA superstar, Lebron James, his rate starts at $500. Such that high end artists can cost you from $3,300 to $30,000 for sleeve ink work.
When getting a large piece, it’s imperative to map out a plan. Consider:
- Set your budget
- Choose a concept and style
- Choose an artist
- Work out a price (including tips)
- Make your booking
- Collaborate or control the design, but communicate thoroughly
- Work out a session timeline
A full sleeve tattoo is a major commitment and investment. It is imperative to get into a well mapped out plan on how to execute the desire to be inked on the entire length of the arm. This will prevent hitches along the way.
Choose a concept and style. Brainstorm with your artist. Collaborate on how you want to go about getting a large piece of art work into your arm. Will the design be entirely up to the artist, or will the majority of the input be coming from you?
There is a huge selection of designs to browse through on line. Instagram is a good place to start and check on the portfolios of several tattoo artists. Talk to friends who have done it. Get their insights. Experience is a good teacher, it does not have be your own though.
Weed out the ones that do not fit in your vision, your personality and style. Focus on your central theme, keep it simple, then slowly piece it together. Whether you want a cohesive collection of tattoos or one organic piece ensure that it’s ink work which you and your artist can be proud of.
Then choose the length of the tattoo. Do you want a full sleeve tattoo or half? Do you want to start from the upper side of the arm or leg tattoo going down, or the other way around? There are other who choose quarter sized segments then piece it together as a large scale piece.
Time and budget are also important factors to consider. How much time are you willing to give for this endeavor? And, since rates of the tattoo artists are based on an hourly fee, sharpen your negotiation skills and keep it realistic and within your budget range.
Plotting a tedious timeline for tattooing requires patience, especially for large scale pieces. This process can take months or years. Executing the outline can take a single session. Once it’s done, the next sessions will solely be about shading, color and background. Subsequent sessions are spaced out 4 weeks apart depending on the healing process and availability of the artist. Whatever you decide on, just make sure you and your artist are calibrated on the execution of your plan.
If your arm is still a blank canvass, the shoulder is a good place to start. Then work your way downwards then fill it in. There are other artists and customers, who prefer to start the other way around, from the wrist going up. Essentially it is the same principle. By starting on end, the rest of the graphics can be mapped out properly. Discuss a flow plan with your artist.
Do you want to showcase your left or right arm? Do you want your artwork on dominant arm or on the arm you use to shake your hands with? If you drive, sun exposure of the left arm might be an issue not unless you intend to cover it or intend not to open the window anyway.
An upper arm half sleeve piece can take 8 hours minimum, with a more reasonable estimate being in the 12-15 hour bracket for work using complex lines, color and shading.
Some leg half sleeve tattoos on the thigh can reach as high as 20 hours, especially if doing Japanese style Irezumi or animal realism tattoo style.
With heavily detailed heavily black ink being part of many rights of passage in Polynesian tribal tattoos, they are generally the most expensive tattoos created in the half sleeve style due to the technical application needed by the artist to execute the tattoo idea.
The elements are greatly important for filling out and supporting the major theme of the large and complex Japanese tattoo designs. This is known as Gakoubori. Most commonly used elements:
- Waves and water
- Rocks and earth