Most people who get tattooed don’t start their journey by planning out their entire body. The majority of people get a piece here and there and before they realize it they’ve got some serious ink and all that’s left is to fill in the blank. Sleeves are serious real estate and there’s a lot of space for things, or a lot of space for mistakes. If you want a sleeve there’s a few things you need to know.
Planning, planning, planning. Plan your artist, ask around, find someone who “sees” your vision or can tattoo the way you like. It’s no good going to the cheapest artist if they aren’t capable of doing the tattoo you want. If you’re committing time, money and skin you want to make sure it’s done right. Covering up full sleeve work not only means you will have limited choices but you’ll also be paying far more if you don’t get it done right the first time.
Plan your ink as well. This means getting a folder – on your phone, pinterest, print etc. and filling it with your ideas. Examples of similar styles, tattoos, photos of the actual animal/flower etc that you want. The better your reference and the more information you can give your artist the better they are likely to “see” what you want and be able to put it together exactly as you like.
Sleeves aren’t cheap. You’ll have several sessions involved and will likely be spending $1000 or more for quality work. It’s often said that good work isn’t cheap, and most artists will require a deposit on sessions and drawings, especially for sleeve work where the drawing alone may take hours. If you have a budget be honest about it, but be aware that your artist also has to make a living and if you can’t afford their price you may have to compromise with a half sleeve or taking time to build up cash between sessions if you commit.
When you’re ready to put down your deposit, have picked out an artist and have your ideas together it’s time to schedule a consult. This is time where you bring everything to your chosen artist. You sit down, discuss those ideas, and try and create a vision together. Listen to them, if they say it won’t work trust their experience, if something is especially important tell them.
During your consult you’ll also be setting an appointment for your first session so bring your calendar or have an idea when you plan on getting started. Be aware that a good artist may be booked months in advance so you might not get an appointment to start right away.
When your appointment arrives make sure you’re prepared. Eat beforehand, arrive on time/early, bring anything the artist has asked with you including your ID. Give your artist at least 24 hours notice if you are going to cancel or whatever terms were agreed when you left your deposit to reschedule. Bring a friend, a pillow, music or anything you think will help you get through the experience. Then it’s time to sit back, and take the ride!