Legs are a great location for a tattoo because they are easily shown off, or covered up, depending on your mood or the occasion. There's also plenty of space to fill, especially on the fleshy thigh area, although unless you often wear short shorts and skirts, it won't be seen very often. The calf also works great for smaller works, other places such as the ankle and knee can play host to subtle designs too. These areas don't have much protective muscle or tissue though, so be prepared for some pain!
Would you consider getting inked on your legs? If so, what kind of design do you think works best? We here at Bored Panda have come up with a list of our favorites that you can take inspiration from. Scroll down below to check them out for yourself, as well as an interesting and informative interview with highly respected tattoo artist Sebastian Quick, and let us know what you think in the comments!
#1 Stunning Leg Sleeve Tattoo
We spoke to Swedish tattoo artist Sebastian Quick to get some insights on leg tattoos, as well as the art in general, to give you an idea of what to expect when planning your next tattoo. "Personally, I specialize more and more in rather large tattoos," Sebastian told Bored Panda.
"I'm originally a painting artist, so my work comes to its full potential when I'm allowed to approach a tattoo project as when I approach a painting project. This requires a certain size. So my favorite areas are any body part that calls for a big design. Legs are generally very good for this, they offer many large areas that are relatively smooth and "flat". At the same time legs are indeed limbs, so the biological structure of the legs inspires me to always pay attention to, consider and respect the movements and dynamics of the leg's; joints, points of bending, curving, twisting etc."
"Many artists considers the legs a little less attractive as a placement for their tattoos because tattoos on legs stays hidden more and don't get much exposure. This is true of course.. Another issue might be hair. Bushy, black hairs are for sure going to affect the entire piece. In those cases, well.. What can I say, its a bummer."
Sebastian believes there some important things worth mentioning when it comes to tattooing on the legs, that some clients might not have thought about. "The legs offer larger areas for tattooing than most people think, and are therefore often a great place for larger tattoos," he explained.
"Also many people seem to almost not consider the legs, as if they generally relate less to the lower part of their bodies than the upper. A leg tattoo naturally gets much less attention compared to the arms for example, but that can be a good thing too! For example if we're doing a piece with a very personal meaning and the client doesn't want to show it off at all times. The legs are also perfect for large size tattoos that at the same time remain more hidden."
"However, there are some really painful spots on the legs. The hollow at the back of the knee is not nice, same on or around the knee itself. Also, around the ankle bones and anywhere on the feet are areas with plenty of nerves combined with thin skin stretched directly over bone."
"Also some people experience a lot of pain on the hips, and anywhere near the groin is sensitive for sure. The back of the leg generally seems to be a bit more sensitive than the front. The inside of the leg more sensitive than the outside."
Good to know, right?!
Sebastian recommends the legs for any design that needs a lot of space, large empty areas and at the same time that dynamic of the leg as a moving, bending mechanical limb. "That's what makes it interesting to me for sure," he continues.
"A tattoo on a back for example, calls for more symmetry,but a leg is naturally calling for a more dynamic design with more flow and movement.. And speaking of size once again; for example, a tattoo on the hip plus the side of the thigh can be made in size 50 cm tall x 20 cm wide. That's a proper size for reference, the full length of my back is the same as my hip and thigh."
"As for 'leg sleeves,' they still don't seem very common as a concept just yet. Therefore very few people seem to approach the leg with that "sleeve mindset". I would love to do more such projects though!"
More generally, Sebastian has spent time working in busy studios, with few different tattooists sharing the same space. He says that he prefers the time and space to breathe however, and has decided to strike out on his own. "I found it too hectic, especially for the type of projects I'm doing," he explains. "And also, I've noticed that there are few people in the tattooing line of work that are originally artists; painters etc. It seems that we're more comfortable approaching tattooing with that kind of "independent artist" mindset."
"So now I run a solo studio. This space truly feels like an extension of myself, it's the result of all my ideas and concepts about how I want to work and how I like to welcome and collaborate with my clients. I've made it in a way so that the entire experience is much more calm, relaxed and personal for the client, and for me."
"The studio is located in an inner yard, facing the yard with trees and old brick walls. And one can't spot the studio from the street. Only a small sign is hinting where it is. So it's an "invites only" type of place. I don't take walk-in requests so every appointment, both tattoo sessions and consultations are always pre-booked. In this way I can guarantee total peace, privacy and calm for each client I welcome."
"My studio is in fact more like a private art atelier (hence the name Sebastian Quick Art and Tattoo Atelier). I welcome only one client per day for tattooing so again, plenty of time, no rush and each person can feel how the focus is entirely on them. This kind of quality over quantity is what I want to create!"
"There are so many "tattoo factories" and there's nothing wrong with that, but for the people who appreciate more stillness and depth in each step of the process, we are a few artists now who have created an alternative way."
"As far as the tattoos goes, I work in a style called 'cross hatching.' The result is that the tattoo looks very much like a drawing. Imperfection on purpose My starting point is in surrealism and the final result I guess is a mix of sketch linework, surrealism, designs full of symbols, often many hidden clues. I always invite each new client to a long consultation. We talk about the meaning and the reasons to get the tattoo and little by little we build up a visual symbolic manifestation that I then turn into the final tattoo design. It becomes a painting in fact, that we then transfer to the skin."
"Because I do mostly big projects, I often spend 5 to 10, often even 15-20 hours over a few sessions with one client. So it's an amazing diversity of humans and deep stories that I have the chance to get to know! That's why I gravitate towards doing my best to honour each person, give plenty of time and space for each story to unfold."
"I really don't see the point of tattooing as many people as possible. If I don't think I can do an excellent job, I try to explain why and tell the person this project is not for me. I try to be kind and I really try to not come across as arrogant. And I think people actually appreciate that kind of honesty. I want to create projects I feel for. And I also do many other kind of projects, fine arts painting, wall painting, street art, have designed album covers and done illustrations for books etc."