A sleeve tattoo can often be described as a combination or collection of various designs strategically placed on an individual’s arm or leg to form one seemingly continuous work. However, sleeves can also be composed of a single continuous pattern or color.
The terms tattoo sleeve, full sleeve, half sleeve, etc. are generic terms given to tattoo designs covering the arm or leg in a close-knit pattern resembling that of a sleeve. The validity of this term is occasionally brought into question but has gained wider acceptance over the years, especially since the dawn of the internet age. “Full sleeve” is just a tad bit catcher and descriptive than searching the web for “full arm piece tattoos.” Most contemporary artists have accepted the term and regularly use it.
Sleeve tattoos are sometimes planned, but often the result of one tattoo leading to another, then another, and so on and so forth. As most of you with ink will attest to, tattoos are addicting! Let’s take a look at some awesome examples of sleeve tattoos on men.
This beautiful blackwork sleeve.
Here we have a spectacular black and grey ink sleeve featuring a combination of swirling circles, geometric shapes, and mandala flowers. (Photo: Nissaco)
This sacred geometry sleeve.
From the shading to the pattern work, this large scale dotwork design looks better and better the further you get from it—not because it sucks obviously. (Photo: Helsinki)
This black and grey Prometheus piece.
The first of many to come, this renaissance sculpture work features the Greek Titan Promethesus covered by a strategically placed bolt of cloth is the work of master tattooist Jun Cha, who’s rennasiance-inspired work has earned him quite the following.
This bee-themed blackwork sleeve.
As tough as it is to name complex tattoo sleeves, we think we did OK. One of our favorite designs on the list, this intricate colorless sleeve has a nice even weight throughout. (Photo: Zmierzloki Tattoo)
This colorful neo traditional sleeve.
A women dons a lion head cap while holding a lantern with what looks to be a double exposure landscape scene inside. (Photo: Nederland)
This Alex Grey inspired full sleeve.
We’ve always been a huge fan of Alex Grey’s work so when this piece came up we of course had to include it on our list. It’s a good thing this sleeve isn’t in color ’cause people probably wouldn’t be able to handle the cosmic awesomeness of a full-blown Alex Grey masterpiece. (Photo: Erik the Viking)
This blackwork buddha with lotus flower.
Another fantastic piece from Jun Cha. The sharp contrast seen in the shadows of Cha’s work has become one of the most defining characteristics of his work. (Photo: Jun Cha)
This gorgeous double exposure sleeve.
We can’t say enough good things about this piece. A star-filled purple and blue sky transitions to a colorless pond in the woods. (Photo: Tyler Malek)
This spiraling sleeve.
Here we have a stunning spiraling design that contains samples of various styles and patterns. The bold outlines and negative spaces give this piece an undeniably stylish vibe. (Photo: Christopher Noogin)
This Greek God.
Mars with his signature helmet to signify his warrior status. (Photo: Jun Cha)