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Sleeves in the West: when did this catch on?


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This excellent post is by irezumi from another thread:

Actually I've seen this all too often.

I am on the exact same page as about 99% of everybody here when we say hand before sleeve is NAGL. I didn't do that, and tell any client the same.

However.... That having been said, I do need to point out that up until a certain point (maybe 25-30 yrs ago? you know, the 'great old time era') a hand tattoo before a sleeve was not uncommon. If anything, a sleeve was what was uncommon. Just for quick example, look at the Marlboro ad Clay posted in the Old Tattoo Photo thread(yeah he has a jacket on but there are a few other Marlboro ads where you can see the rest of the arm). As well as half the pics i've seen of sailors getting tattooed. Tattoo on a hand was much more common that a sleeve.

Yes, this is 50 - 60 years later; But as we can all see, almost half the people in our craft seem to think it's still 1940 haha.

It got me thinking: beyond traditional Japanese sleeves, when did sleeves start appearing in the West? I've seen lots of old tattoos pics, but rarely have I seen full sleeves outside of sideshow performers. Lots of stacked pork chops down the arm, but usually 3 to 5 at a time.

But since I know a lot less about this stuff than many of you, I thought I'd pose the topic for LST to discuss.

Side note: to irezumi's earlier point, I recently saw a documentary on Vince Lombardi. Turns out that his dad had WORK and PLAY on his knuckles.

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late 80's/early 90's is the first time i remember people talking about "getting sleeved" or starting to get a cohesive type of design for the entire arm. from what i remember of other friends getting work there seemed to be a new school or bio influence which was becoming popular around that time. i think grafitti played a major influence on the new school style and may have even contributed to a more cohesive sleeve concept. that and of course the traditional japanese influence but more so in concept of background and a full sleeve type of structure. the first several tattoos i had gotten around that time were all just scattered and it wouldn't be until around 94/95 that i got a design that covered from my wrist to my elbow. up until that point even when i would encounter someone who was heavily tattooed it was still usually several smaller tattoos that filled the space. that was also around the time that i saw people trying to completely use as much space as possible with designs. like this guys neck tattoo, it was a pennywise clown head on his neck and it went from his throat to up behind his ears. i remember being totally blown away by it. i'm not sure when it may have happened on the west coast since things always seemed to spawn from there before we would ever get exposed to it in the south. of course these were the days before the internet so when it did happen somewhere else, it required a physical manifestation of it before you could be exposed to it. so if you didn't travel or know anyone who traveled, then you might only get exposed by going to punk shows where the band would hang out after the show or something like that.

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I want to say Ed probably had sleeves before the late 80's... Bob maybe... maybe Richard too although he's a little younger than Ed.... But I'm thinking maybe the generation of tattooers that Ed came out of was the first to really go hard with sleeves.. So 1970's? I really have no idea though.

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