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Hello! Designing half sleeve, need insight!


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I'm Matt!

I have always been really intrigued in the tattoo culture, history, and just art in general. As I am an amateur artist myself(not tattoo).

Thus far I only have 2 tattoos and just saving to do some more. Hoping to get some insight on ideas for my half sleeve!

I want to compile many images over time, with representations of things that mean a lot to me.

1.Travel is huge for me: Biggest experiences I want to represent are Japan and Peru(Machu Picchu and Amazon)

Also just different travel themes in general and my adventurous nature I suppose.

2. Musical influence: I primarily DJ, produce and play sax.

3. I want to incorporate Japanese wave art

4. Passion for coffee

5. Passion for outdoors and climbing mountains.

I appreciate any sort of insight! Feel free to ask me questions if any need clarification.


~ Matt

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Welcome dude! @Graeme gives some good insight. Instead of taking your interests and trying to make them tattooable, try approaching from the opposite angle; find strong tattoo imagery or an artist you identify with and then see what kind of connection you might have with those things.

Very well could get some traditional style tattoos of a coffee cup with roses (definitely seen this one before, can be a great, fun tattoo!), an airplane, etc.. or you might feel like a full on neck-to-thighs Japanese-style back piece would make more sense. Or both!

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@Graeme Thanks for the insight guys, I know where you're coming from!

I need to find the right artist and hash my ideas out with him.

How do you suggest I go about slowly building it. How do you keep

flow if you aren't doing it all at once? Not sure if that's a stupid Q haha..

That's a good question, and it depends on what you want out of the tattoo. Here's a picture that was posted some time ago on another thread on this forum:


Getting tattoos that go together more or less like that...a sort of classic Americana look...shouldn't be too hard as long as you get tattoos that go together in broad stylistic terms. In this case that means black outlines, strong silhouettes, black shading, and bold colour. I think an advantage to getting tattooed like that is that if you want to have a representation of travel on your body, there are a lot of great tattoo shops all over the world and you can get tattooed at them. It's better than getting a stamp in your passport.

If you want something more like a single coherent design incorporating various elements, that would have to be worked out with an artist. In my opinion, what you wrote in your initial post is far too much to put into a tattoo and have it look good, and since your artist would probably try to give you a resolved design, adding to it later could be difficult. If you look at these beautiful coherent Japanese sleeves you'll notice that they're often fairly simple: they'll have an animal or a creature, a plant or flower, and a background (wind, water, etc). Regardless of what you want out of your tattoo, I think you should look at as many good tattoos as you can...look at the thread here about what makes a good tattoo, look at the latest tattoo lowdown and monthly contests, follow tattooers on Instagram...and figure out what makes tattoos work as tattoos and go from there.

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