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Planning A Sleeve or Large Tattoo


Planning a sleeve, or large piece is a time consuming task for any tattoo artist. Most artists spend many hours drawing and redrawing to make sure the sleeve flows well and will please the client. If not carefully planned out correctly, sections of the tattoo won’t look good and may make the finished piece look wonky and offset.

If you are a client looking to get a sleeve or large piece done, either arm or leg, come with some sort of plan or idea to share with your artist so that they can create something great based off your idea. Give your artist just enough ideas so that they don’t have to guess, and expect them to create something unique just for you. Don’t ask your artist to simply copy someone else’s existing tattoo, let them be artists. You can, however, also give a general idea and give the artist free rein to just create. You can say something like, “I want a norse themed sleeve”, and then just let them have at it.

For a completely unique experience, it’s not a bad idea to just let the artists do what they do. They’ll be more inspired and personally interested in your tattoo, hence, you will get a better tattoo. It might be a bit scary not knowing exactly what you are going to be getting, but look at it from a different angle, think of it like Christmas, and your tattoo is a present.

Expect your tattoo to be several sessions. Unless it’s incredibly simple, finishing a large piece in a single session is very unlikely. You will probably be sitting for 6 hours per session, so be sure to bring refreshments with you. Most artists do take a lunch break roughly in the middle of a session, so this will let you eat, take a break and stretch your legs. Unless you’re not a conversationalist, the time goes by faster than you think because your artist will probably be chatting with you, sharing stories and so forth. If you don’t like to talk too much, bring headphones and listen to music on your phone, or watch a movie.

Do not use numbing creams. It will mess with the design of the tattoo. The creams affect your skin and capillaries in a manner that once it wears off, your tattoo may be distorted. It’s best just to muscle through it. Pain is temporary, but art is forever.

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