Asian sleeve tattoos are some of the hardest and most rewarding tattoos. They’re large in size, big on detail, and always awesome. Covering your arm in ink, a sleeve is definitely a time commitment. But it’s a rewarding piece of art steeped in tradition and culture.
Asian Sleeve Tattoos, half Sleeve Tattoo & Full-Body Suit TattoosDating back to the heroes of the Suikoden, traditional Asian tattoos are large. The 18th Century Chinese novel displayed its protagonists with detailed, artistic full-body tattoos. The price-tag and time commitment involved in a full body suit piece has made Asian sleeve tattoos a more popular option. A sleeve is still a large tattoo, and its design follows the principles of full body traditional Asian tattooing. Because the piece covers such a large area the natural shape of the body needs to be incorporated into the artwork. The tattoo needs to take into consideration:
- The body’s shape
- The natural lines
- How it looks from all angles
TransitionsBecause a full sleeve tattoo is so large it uses transitions to blend multiple images, just like a full-body tattoo. The transition art makes sure all the images work together, flowing as one piece of art - as well as filling in the gaps. Asian tattoos lend themselves to transitions well because they tend to incorporate one of the elements. Asian tattoos use the elements of wind, waves, or fire for a consistent theme. These elements provide interesting art in between images, so it doesn’t look like filler. For example, look at the koi dragon sleeve tattoo below. The element of water ties everything together making an aesthetically and thematically sound tattoo:
Asian Sleeve Tattoo DesignsAsian sleeves use the same motifs as other Asian tattoos including Dragon tattoos and Koi Fish Tattoos. There are also a number of different types of sleeve design.
Full Sleeve TattooA full sleeve tattoo is the first style that comes to mind when most of us think of a sleeve. This goes from your wrist to your shoulder. It’s not uncommon for it to extend further into a hand, chest, or shoulder tattoo. This full sleeve dragon tattoo is a good example of a sleeve running from wrist to shoulder.
¾ SleeveA ¾ Asian sleeve tattoo starts at the shoulder and goes halfway down the forearm. They’re a good option for people who need to hide their tattoo at work. A long sleeve shirt won’t expose your ink. Like a full sleeve, it can continue into the shoulder or chest. This ¾ sleeve phoenix tattoo, for example, continues past the shoulder to become a chest tattoo.
Half Sleeve TattooHalf sleeve tattoos cover just half the arm. They go from the wrist to the elbow or the elbow to the shoulder. Since they’re smaller, they usually take less time and cost less money. They’re a great option for ballers on a budget. Often, they are done with the intent of completing a full sleeve later on or to hide at work. Tattooing just the upper arm means you can even roll up your sleeves at work without exposing your ink. Below are examples of a forearm tattoo and an upper arm half sleeve.
How Long Does A Sleeve Tattoo Take?A sleeve tattoo is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a skilled artist and a lot of endurance. A full sleeve can take anywhere from 15 to 40+ hours of tattooing. With this much time, you need multiple sessions for a complete tattoo. The exact time it takes depends on a few factors:
- The complexity of the tattoo.
- The size of the tattoo.
- Whether it’s colour or black & grey.
- Your pain tolerance/how long you can stay in the chair.
- Skin condition.
- The artist.