Sleeve tattoos are a collaboration between a tattoo artist and customer to demonstrate a personal and unified artistic theme. Other times, a sleeve is created when a person has many smaller tattoos on their arm and later has them connected with background tattooing to form a sleeve. Planned sleeves generally require many long hours of tattooing and can take weeks, months or years to complete.
A lot of us have imagined ourselves with those same kinds of full-arm sleeves. For some, it could work well with our no-fucks-to-give persona. For others, it's an aesthetic decision, or an emotional one. If you’re serious about it though, then it’s worth knowing what planning is involved—from inception, to execution, to maintenance. So we spoke with Nicolas Gualteros, tattoo artist at Senaspace in NYC, to plot it all out.
Sacred geometry tattoos are spiritual in nature and have a religious significance, besides being of great aesthetic value. Most of the time, people have such a tattoo inked for its symbolic significance rather than its attraction and appeal. Different shapes in geometry are associated with different elements of nature which need to be understood well before choosing a tattoo design. For instance, the cube symbolizes the earth while fire is represented by the tetrahedron. Air is signified by the octahedron, water by icosahedron and spirit by dodecahedron. It is also said that having these tattoo shaped inked over special areas of the body will have a healing effect and restore good health and balance in the body. Perhaps, this is the reason why tattoos have been used as adornments in the form of talismans or amulets since the times immemorial. They have been revered for their magical qualities and have been used as a part of holistic healing therapies in the pasta nd this tradition has been carried on into the contemporary times too, making such tattoos a blend of beauty and spirituality. The belief is that placing the spiritual tattoos on a particular part of the body will have a positive impact on health and spirituality, which makes the placement of this an issue of vital importance.
Advances in digital technology are giving artists a greater hand in creating geometric tattoos. Since this kind of tattoo needs to be extremely precise and even, a digital approach can save the artist time, make it easier to revise the design, and even ensure a perfect fit. Artists can do mock-ups by taking pictures of the body part that will be tattooed, and produce the design to fit it exactly.
A sleeve tattoo like this is timeless. It’s incredible. There are so many levels and different variations. It was probably done in instalments and it’s a fascinating piece. You can see on the top of the shoulder how that was probably one piece and then he continued to add on throughout his arm. The artist did a rather stellar job in making the entire piece flow so well. That’s not an easy accomplishment and this artist makes it look simple!
Don’t expect to get a huge tattoo, or series of them, in just one sitting. They just take too long. Gualteros has some clients who fly in from overseas, and who then spend a few solid days getting big-scale tattoos completed. But that’s a special case. “Usually it’ll happen over more time,” he says. “It could take months, it could take years. Usually, you leave 3-4 weeks between appointments and a sleeve can require anywhere from 8-10 sessions.”
Some organizations have proposed rules banning sleeves among their members; the United States Marine Corps prohibited Marines from getting arm- or leg-sleeve tattoos after April 1, 2007. Those with sleeves already are protected under a grandfather clause. Nevertheless, tattoo sleeves have become so popular that several clothing companies have produced apparel that simulates the look of tattoo sleeves using transparent mesh fabric printed with tattoo designs.
This geometric tattoo is suited for nature lovers. The shell tattoo, especially the nautilus tattoo, creates perfect symmetry while giving off a natural yet unique look at the same time. Much like the deer, the shell is another favored subject when it comes to geometric tattoos. A shell is known to be a semi-static example of a fractal, and is a constant reminder that everything in nature is pretty much scale-able. The shell, much like human beings, are just a tiny part of a much bigger kind of equation.
The half sleeve is generally the preferred style of arm tattoo at the moment. Unlike having a full sleeve it allows you to cover up your tattoos with a t-shirt should you need to for work or any other occasion. It also means that you don’t have to tattoo your elbow which can be a difficult area to work with and often you are restricted to the types of styles that you can get inked there.