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.
After it’s done peeling, you can start your long-term care plan: “Always use sunblock and body lotion,” says Gualteros. “Honestly, if a tattoo is properly done and properly taken care of, it should be good for life, without touch up. So long as there’s good foundation—that is, black and line work—it should look good over time.” If you don’t properly block the skin from the sun’s wear, or condition it daily, the colors will fade over time and will require a touching up. Considering you’ll be working with a full sleeve or more, it’s best to get in the habit of using sunblock and lotion.
Half-sleeves or quarter-sleeves are tattoos that cover only part of an arm, usually above the elbow, but can also be found below the elbow. A sleeve implies complete tattoo coverage of a particular area, so a half sleeve is a tattoo that covers the entire upper or lower arm. A "quarter sleeve" usually covers the area of skin from the shoulder midway to the elbow.
The amount of time required for the removal of a tattoo and the success of the removal varies with each individual and their immune system function. Factors influencing this include: skin type, location, color, amount of ink, scarring or tissue change, layers of ink, immune system function and circulation. Factors under the individuals control are more time between treatments, nutrition, stress, sleep, exercise and fluid levels. In the past health care providers would simply guess on the number of treatments a patient needed which was rather frustrating to patients. A predictive scale, the "Kirby-Desai Scale", was developed by Dr. Will Kirby and Dr. Alpesh Desai, dermatologists with specialization in tattoo removal techniques, to assess the potential success and number of treatments necessary for laser tattoo removal, provided the medical practitioner is using a Q-switched Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet) laser incorporating selective photothermolysis with six weeks between treatments.
Hamlet says it's common for clients to ask for a few changes here and there after the design is done — but recommends going into the process knowing that you shouldn't micromanage the whole thing. Give your tattoo artist the leeway to be creative and use the artistry that is his or her forte. On that same note, don't be afraid to ask for something different if you don't like it. Hamlet says he works on a design until everyone is happy with it.
Half sleeves are usually just a pit stop on the road to getting a full sleeve. You miss the smell of the ink and vaseline and crave the feel of the needle creating a masterpiece on your skin. People often start with a half sleeve before they decide to complete it and finish the entire thing. They are sometimes viewed as incomplete until the rest of the arm is done. They are easier to cover and you don’t necessarily need a long sleeved shirt to cover them.
Tattoo pigments have specific light absorption spectra. A tattoo laser must be capable of emitting adequate energy within the given absorption spectrum of the pigment to provide an effective treatment. Certain tattoo pigments, such as yellows and fluorescent inks are more challenging to treat than darker blacks and blues, because they have absorption spectra that fall outside or on the edge of the emission spectra available in the tattoo removal laser. Recent pastel coloured inks contain high concentrations of titanium dioxide which is highly reflective. Consequently, such inks are difficult to remove since they reflect a significant amount of the incident light energy out of the skin.
The answers to those questions will determine whether you’re looking for a design or a specific image. A lot of guys are going for floral, geometric, or tribal designs just for the artistry. They add some flair to your skin. Other men choose images of religious figures, verses of Scriptures, or popular quotes to remind themselves and others what they believe in. Others feature tattoos of tigers, warriors, and dragons to show their strength. Still others get tattoos of skulls, an hourglass, or death faces to say, “I know it’s coming and I’m not afraid.” Finally, many men get tattoos of their favorite superheroes, movie characters, video games, or sports team logos as a sign of where their interests lie.