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Long Beach’s Premier Destination for Tattoo Art

We know you’ve got a lot of options in Long Beach for tattoo studios–and that’s one reason why we are so appreciative when you choose us. Whether it’s your first tattoo with us or you’ve gotten a piece by each of our artists, you are an important part of our shop.

Custom tattoos in Long Beach with talented artists and friendly service.
We’re proud to offer both authentic works of art and outstanding customer service. Our reviews speak for themselves when it comes to our commitment to each individual tattoo and experience. That’s why on today’s blog we’re sharing some Yelp testimonials from customers like you to show why we’re Long Beach’s premier destination for tattoo art.

Your Experience Matters

A tattoo is about more than the final product: It’s about the experience you have at a studio, the connection you make with an artist, and the memories you carry with you long after your new art has healed. We strive to ensure that your experience is comfortable and meaningful.

“I can’t say enough about Paper Crane and their staff. I went in this week for my first tattoo ever. A friend of mine was with me and wanted to get her tattoo she already had recolored. Tan and Mikey were ready and willing to help and we made appointments for the next day. Tan was my artist and he took my idea and ran with it and it came out beautifully and the experience was super comfortable and I felt very safe and relaxed. So much so I even got another small one while there. My friends experience was similar and she now knows this is where she’ll be going from now on. Her tattoo looks better now than when she originally got it at another location years ago. I’ve heard this becomes addicting so will see how soon I return.” –Erika K.

“Just got my first tattoo ever done by Justin Tauch. This tattoo studio is very clean and comfortable and all the artists there were friendly and made you feel comfortable. Justin did an amazing job and definitely exceeded my expectations as I did not know what to expect it being my first tattoo. But the whole process was very smooth. I know I picked the right place and I am picky too and wanted it to be perfect. I would recommend this shop to anyone no doubt.” –David A.

“And truly, the overwhelming benefit of having artists that are easy to talk to is that you are going to be happy with the tattoo you are getting. If you’re comfortable communicating what you want, and you’re understanding each other, there’s no reason for you to walk away unhappy. The artists are understanding, and of course, while everything is ultimately your decision, they will be sure to advise in the right direction to ensure your tattoo will be looking great 5, 10, and 15 years from now.” –Kellee N.

Authentic Art in Long Beach

Our tattoo artists are among the best in the industry. We are constantly exploring our craft, whether that means investing in innovative tattooing tools and design technology or pushing our creative limits with new styles and approaches. We specialize in custom tattoos and original art. Many of our artists have flash tattoos available that are 100% original, while every single artist in the studio excels at designing one-of-a-kind pieces based on your unique vision.

“I had a very positive experience and great outcome from my first appointment at this particular shop. Owner Mikey V reworked a 25-year-old medium-sized praying mantis shoulder piece which was first inked in by the late John Joyes. The tattoo had faded significantly over the last couple of decades. I think Mikey V came up with the perfect solution to fix it and I like it much better than the original… The healing process went much smoother this time, too. I gave Mikey V complete creative control over this project and I’m a firm believer in trusting the artist. My best advice is ‘Listen to your tattoo artist.’ Mikey V has staffed this shop with artists specializing in various styles. If you have a concept in mind, then you will be paired up with the artist who has a style that best fits your concept.” –David R.

“I got my tattoo from Triple Goddess (Joy) here! She was so amazing. She gave me exactly what I wanted. I came in not knowing exactly what I wanted but during my appointment I feel like she helped me find out! I came in with a few scattered ideas and she put them all into one piece that I am forever in love with. Very kind staff!” –Nicole E.

We Genuinely Care

We get that a tattoo is incredibly personal. We have experience dealing with difficult pieces–whether that means a memorial tattoo for a loved one or a scar cover-up from a traumatic event. Our artists are welcoming, supportive,and sensitive. It’s an honor for us to be part of your journey at any stage, both when it’s fun and when it’s rocky.

“My Golden Retriever Logan passed away recently and I decided to get my first tattoo in remembrance of him. I decided to do just a simple paw print tattoo. Wanted to get my tattoo done in Long Beach as California was what my dog knew and loved. After doing a little research I decided upon Paper Crane. Mikey was awesome to work with. Not only was he sensitive to the situation, he was very upbeat and patient. The studio is inviting, clean and the staff is professional. Would highly recommend without hesitation. I plan on visiting again my next visit. Exactly what I wanted. Thank you.” –Scott D.

“Paper Crane is seriously the best tattoo shop I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve experienced quite a few. The entire staff is friendly, nice, professional, welcoming, and most importantly, non-judgmental. The shop itself is in a great location and very clean and also welcoming.” –Kristin F.

Big or Small, We Do It All in Long Beach

We know that many studios have an elite vibe that can make you feel you don’t belong for one reason or another–but at Paper Crane, you are absolutely welcome. You want a micro tattoo of a circle? Got it. A nouveau art rendition of Princess Peach? Let’s make it happen. Matching martini glasses with your best friends? On it. Whether it’s cute and fun, serious and artsy, soft and beautiful, or frighteningly bad ass, we welcome you to bring your favorite tattoo ideas to our Long Beach studio.

“From start to finish – a class act. Having dealt with other tattoo artist studios, this place is head and shoulders above the rest. They place the clients’ wishes and satisfaction above their own egos, which cannot be said about other establishments. Tan provided my girlfriend and myself with matching tattoos that were EXACTLY what we had envisioned. Their cleanliness, preparation, attention to detail, follow through and follow up, are professional, VERY fair in price, and worth whatever it takes to get there. Everyone was friendly, positive, and relaxed. This was an amazing experience, and i WILL be back again.” –Robert D.

“I’ve typically only been tattoo’d by close friends. This time however, my besty friends and business partners picked this local joint to go get our company logo tattoos, and I couldn’t have felt more comfortable. Very clean, very classy, private, professional establishment with high quality execution. I am hard to please and 100% satisfied.” –Booky C.

“I recently returned to Paper Crane to get a custom piece done by Mikey. I was able to get in for a consultation pretty quickly and I got the piece done just a few weeks after the consultation. The process was really smooth and when I went in for the consultation everyone who was there was really nice. The consultation was great because Mikey was able to give me some advice and really help me figure out what I wanted. I later emailed him and asked if he would be able to fit my mom in as well for us to get matching tattoos and he had no problem with it. The artwork he created was absolutely amazing; I am in love with it.” –Ashley D.

We’re so glad to have you at our shop, whether it’s just once or often, and we’re proud to be a historical part of the Long Beach tattooing scene. Speaking of history, be sure to check out next month’s blog where we’ll be looking at Long Beach’s storied relationship with tattooing!

The Art of the Tattoo Cover-Up

We’ve all seen ugly tattoos: Whether it’s something that hasn’t aged well or a piece that was executed poorly to begin with, some tattoos just are not a joy to show off. As a result, a tattoo cover-up is something you or someone you know may have considered. On today’s blog, we’re sharing some of our inside perspective on the art of the tattoo cover-up–so if you’re wearing long sleeves to hide a piece you hate, read on!
Tan Vo takes his time designing and applying each tattoo to ensure you'll love your piece for a lifetime--no tattoo cover-up required!

Consideration 1: Tattoo Cover-Up vs. Touch-Up

Sometimes tattoos fall victim to circumstances. If you’ve experienced significant sun damage or have never moisturized your tattoo post-aftercare, you may be sporting a tattoo that is faded and/or blurry. Depending on the degree of damage, it’s possible that your tattoo can be salvaged! A touch-up is potentially an easier process than a full tattoo cover-up because it means an artist is able to work with the existing lines, colors, and details rather than against them.

If you can’t see your original tattoo artist for a cover-up, we’re always happy to take a look and see what’s possible. A touch-up is often a good time to add to an existing piece, so feel free to bring your favorite ideas to our studio!

Consideration 2: The Workaround

In the course of collecting tattoos, many times people “outgrow” certain designs for one reason or another. Perhaps a small piece is taking up valuable real estate on your personal canvas, or maybe your aesthetic has dramatically changed.

If you’ve got a piece that you don’t hate but you’d like to alter, a potential alternative to a tattoo cover-up is a workaround.  This might involve adding to an existing piece: For example, if you’ve got a small rose on your upper arm, an artist can create a design incorporating thematic elements like birds, butterflies, or more flowers to create a half-sleeve that “reads” as a coherent design.

Sometimes with a workaround, an artist can sometimes blend an old piece into a seamless tattoo cover-up. Imagine a paisley design being reshaped into an intricately detailed petal on a lotus blossom, for example, or a butterfly becoming part of a woman’s dress.

With a workaround, it’s particularly important to consider the overall style of the tattoo cover-up. If you your existing tattoo is American Traditional, it may be advisable to stick to that aesthetic in order to avoid a choppy final product.

Consideration 3: Salvaging Design Elements for Your Tattoo Cover-Up

If it’s not possible to work the entirety of your old tattoo into your new one, another option is to salvage specific elements of your existing ink. This might mean keeping one specific piece of your tattoo: For example, if you have a terrible portrait tattoo of your grandmother but the script for her name is well done, an option might be to cover the portrait with your grandmother’s favorite flower while leaving the script alone.

Another way of salvaging design elements is to allow your artist to work with the existing lines of your tattoo. Do you have a shabby lion tattoo you’d like to get rid of? Imagine working with the underlying structure of the tattoo to create a fierce dire wolf. Makes sense from a design perspective, right? Now imagine trying to overlay a design of a swallow over the lion instead. Not necessarily as straightforward! (Even so, such a dramatic transformation is potentially possible, if you’re open to the artistic perspective of an expert cover-up artist.)

Consideration 4: Total Tattoo Cover-Up

We understand that for some pieces a total tattoo cover-up is just what you need. Maybe it’s an ex’s name, maybe it’s a cringe-worthy rendering of a Disney princess–we feel your pain, and we’re here to help.

In such instances, it might not be a matter of transforming one animal into another, as with the lion-to-dire-wolf example above. But the same rules apply: The more you allow your artist to work with structural elements, the better your tattoo cover-up will turn out. Even a name has a framework that lends itself to certain designs: Cursive script has soft, rounded lines that easily flow into flowers, for example, while block lettering may require a different approach. Similarly, the particular morphology of that tragic princess tattoo can potentially shape your cover-up options.

Other factors to consider in your tattoo cover-up include color, depth, and detail. Depending on the original piece, certain colors might not fully cover the existing design, which can limit your cover-up possibilities. A pale pink dahlia might be out of the question in one particular case–but a dahlia in a deep purple could potentially work. A complex tattoo cover-up that involves shading and multi-layered details can help to cover or obscure your old piece. Animals with detailed scales or fur, trees with gnarled bark, intricate mandalas–these can potentially serve your tattoo cover-up better than simple or one-dimensional designs.

Consideration 5: Tattoo Cover-Up Expectations

We’ve got zero judgment when it comes to your tattoo cover-up. Whether you didn’t do your research or just hate your existing ink, we have a number of artists who are experts in tattoo transformation.

One of the biggest ways to succeed with your cover-up is to manage your expectations. In some cases, you might not be able to get exactly the design you want over your old piece, with no sign of the original–and that’s great! Other times, though, your existing ink might not work with the cover-up you have in mind, or certain elements might show through no matter what an artist does.

If you go into your cover-up consultation with an open mind, you’ll be amazed at your results. Collaborative design and creative freedom can give your artist the ability to totally transform your piece, perhaps in ways that you yourself hadn’t even considered. We encourage you to bring a number of ideas you’re interested in rather than a single concept–and we would love if you’d let us suggest alternative strategies in turn.

We value our clients and our professional integrity, so we will be honest with you about what’s realistic with your tattoo cover-up. If we can’t agree on a design or if your tattoo just isn’t a candidate for a cover-up, we will always be upfront with you. In some instances, a few sessions of laser removal can make a big difference in your options.

Remember that a cover-up is a complex process with numerous factors at play. Depending on the project, you might need several sessions for us to do the absolute best job possible with your transformation. We treat every piece we undertake as a priority so that you’ll have a finished product you’re proud to show off–and that means we never rush any tattoo, whether it’s a cover-up or a custom original.

If you’re interested in getting your old ink redesigned, send us an email to get scheduled for a consultation! Please include pictures of your existing tattoo as well as any ideas you have for covering it up. We can connect you with one of our cover-up experts and get you scheduled for an in-studio consultation that will give you a full picture of what to expect. We look forward to helping you love your new tattoo!

Long Beach Friday the 13th Flash Tattoos

Friday the 13th is upon us! We hope you’re as excited as we are for this awesome event.

Flash sheet by Lindsey Morehead

(Flash sheet by Lindsey Morehead)

This time around, we will be offering both $40 and $130 designs. Some are in color, others blackwork or black-and-grey.

We’ve posted our full general guidelines for you to check out for easy reference. You can also hop on our social media for sneak peeks and info.

One special note: We get a lot of requests for past flash, but we won’t be able to accommodate you if you’re looking to get a design from a previous event . You can come in any other day to get a flash design for $100, though, which is still a great deal!

(Flash designs by Tan Vo)

We hope to see you this Friday the 13th in Long Beach!

(Flash sheet by Joy Shannon)

Sun Damage and Your Tattoo

With summer in full swing, it’s the perfect time to show off your ink and catch some sun! But before you hit the beach, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen if you want your tattoos to look good all year long. Today we’re considering the ways the sun can impact your tattoos, whether they’re brand new or decades old—and we’re offering some easy solutions both to prevent and deal with sun damage.

Phase 1: The Sun and Your New Tattoo

Aftercare is a critical time for your new tattoo, for a number of reasons. A fresh tattoo is essentially an open wound, which means that cleanliness is imperative; moisturization is likewise important in helping skin heal with minimal itching and irritation.

But did you know that protecting your new ink from the sun is just a important as keeping it clean and moisturized? A sunburn on a fresh tattoo is particularly damaging: Because recently tattooed skin is already tender, a sunburn can significantly inflame any redness, itching, or dryness. It can even lead to blistering of the exposed tissue. A mildly irritated tattoo can become a weepy, swollen, painful disaster if exposed to the sun—all of which can lead to increased scabbing and even infection, which in turn can cause the ink to “fall out” of your tattoo.

To avoid irritation and help your tattoo heal beautifully:

  1. Keep your tattoo covered up when you’re outside with light, clean clothing that is not itchy or otherwise irritating. Clothing with built-in SPF is a plus!
  2. Minimize your time in the sun if you can’t keep your tattoo covered for any reason.
  3. Don’t use sunscreen on a new tattoo: It’s an open wound, and sunscreen can be extremely irritating!
  4. DON’T SWIM! We know it’s the perfect way to cool off on a hot day, but don’t do it. Go enjoy the A/C inside or drink an iced tea instead.

Phase 2: Sun Damage and Long-Term Maintenance

Once you’ve gotten through the initial healing phase, you’re in the clear for a number of activities (including swimming!). You don’t have to alter your daily routine in terms of physical activity or clothing, and you don’t need to worry in general about infection or irritation.

But sun damage is still a significant threat to your tattoo—and it will be for the rest of your life.

The sun’s threat to your ink is two-fold.

      1. UV rays break down the pigments found in tattoo ink. This can cause them to fade more quickly than if protected from the sun.
      2. A sunburn causes your skin to peel in order to get rid of damaged skin cells. This accelerated peeling can pull out tattoo ink, which can contribute to your tattoo looking faded.

You may have considered how your tattoo will age when you first got it done. There is a lot of back-and-forth in the industry about the types of tattoos that age well, but there’s one thing that we all can agree on: A properly protected tattoo will age significantly better than one that is exposed to sun damage, regardless of the style of tattoo. It’s arguably true that color tattoos can appear to fade more quickly than blackwork or black-and-grey pieces, especially if the colors were particularly vibrant to begin with—but even a blackwork piece can lose its crispness if not protected, especially considering that black ink attracts the sunlight more than lighter colors. In any case, all pigments are susceptible to UV damage and peeling, which means that sun damage on any piece can lead to a muddying of details and make a tattoo difficult to “read.”

Placement can be a factor to consider when thinking of long-term sun damage. If a tattoo on your side won’t see the sun as much as a tattoo on your forearm, then naturally it will age more gracefully even without taking precautions. Foot tattoos in particular are a good example of this: In sunny California, it’s easy to throw on flipflops or sandals without stopping to think of sunscreen, and a tattoo on the top of the foot can fade significantly before you realize just how much sun damage it’s gotten over the course of a summer.

But don’t let that limit you! If you’re interested in a tattoo in a highly visible area, you can keep it looking fresh with a little bit of effort:

  1. Wear sunscreen or a cover-up when you’re in the sun! We can’t stress this enough. Choose a sunscreen with a good SPF, preferably one that won’t irritate your skin, or look for clothing that has SPF built into the fabric.
  2. Apply sunscreen or wear a cover-up even when you don’t think you need to. Sun damage is cumulative, which means all of the little trips outside add up. If you walk your dog several times a day, for example, you’re adding to your sun damage incrementally.
  3. Think about your sun exposure—and act accordingly. If you’re a weekend warrior when it comes to fun in the sun, you probably need to be more careful about sun damage on your days off than during your nine-to-five life. But if you’ve got a long commute during the week, that’s another story: You’d be amazed at how much sun damage you can get through the window of a car or bus.

Phase 3: The Sunburned Tattoo

It happens: We all make mistakes. Maybe it was at a friend’s barbecue, maybe it was during some unplanned yardwork—but you’re now looking at a tattoo that is lobster red from the sun.

If your tattoo is still in the aftercare stage and the sunburn is significant, we encourage you to reach out to your artist. Depending on the situation, we can advise you how to best handle the sun damage. In extreme cases involving blistering, it may be advisable to see your doctor.

If it’s an old tattoo, you’re not dealing with an open wound, which is good news—but you’re still at risk of damaging your tattoo, which is not such good news. Depending on how bad the sun damage is, your tattoo may or may not suffer from a single burn. Even if it looks damaged, a sunburned tattoo can possibly return to its usual condition once the skin has fully regenerated.

To help ease the pain and encourage your tattoo to recover, you can try the following—but again, these suggestions are for existing tattoos, not new ones:

  1. Cool your skin down with a cold shower or compress.
  2. Moisturize your tattoo. When you get a sunburn, your skin peels as damaged cells die off. This can pull out ink, which contributes to fading. Proper moisturization can help your skin recover from sun damage while potentially preventing ink loss. Choose a non-irritating moisturizer that is free of chemicals, or go all-natural with coconut oil or aloe.
  3. Drink plenty of water to help your skin re-hydrate. You’ll be surprised at how helpful this can be.
  4. Keep your tattoo covered. You might think that your sunburn is as bad as it can be—but trust us, it can get a lot worse. Throw on a cover-up of some kind while your tattoo recovers from the sunburn. If you can’t cover it up and it isn’t too irritated, use sunscreen.
  5. Don’t do it again! Once your tattoo has recovered, do what you can to prevent future burns. Again: Sun damage is cumulative. If your tattoo has bounced back from one bad sunburn, it might not fare so well the next time.

Please note that even if you’re dealing with an old tattoo, a serious sunburn might necessitate medical attention. If you’re blistered, nauseated, feverish, or dizzy, call your doctor!

Phase 4: Sun Damage and Significant Fading

Whether it’s from one major burn or years of sun damage, sometimes a tattoo just doesn’t look the way that it used to. Color, blackwork, and black-and-grey tattoos all can look blurry or faded after too much time in the sun. If you’re dealing with a piece that just isn’t up to snuff, there’s still hope in the form of a touch-up.

Our artists can give your tattoo a refresher that helps it look brand new. This might mean re-doing color, adding new lines, or touching up details in other skillful ways, depending on your artist’s perspective. In some more extreme cases, we might suggest a full-blown cover-up. We’ll be honest with you about what’s possible in your unique situation, and we’ll work with you to get your tattoo looking great again.

With a little bit of care, you can enjoy the summer without risking your ink—so grab your sunscreen or cover-up and go enjoy yourself! If you’d like to talk about your touch-up options, email us today to get scheduled for a consultation.

When Good Tattoos Go Bad: A Guide to Poorly-Aging Ink

Getting a new tattoo is a major investment: Even if it’s just a small piece, we know how much time, effort, and emotion go into choosing an artist, creating a design, and–of course–actually getting inked. Whether your new tattoo is deeply meaningful or something you got just for fun, you want it to age beautifully.

Mikey Vigilante tattooing a client's back in Long Beach, CA.

We’re all familiar with “tattoo fails” like misspelled words and hideous portrait pieces. There’s not much we can say for these ugly tattoos if a person didn’t do their research beforehand.

But what about when you walk out of the tattoo studio with something gorgeous only to have it look not so hot after it’s healed? What about when good tattoos go bad?

If your tattoo has turned on you, keep reading to find out what might have gone wrong.

Not All Inks Are Created Equal

Because there is no quality control for tattoo ink, it’s possible to get tattooed with inferior pigments. Even in a professional shop that is 100% hygienic, you might cross paths with an artist using cheap ink to save a few bucks. (If you’re getting tatted by someone out of their garage, you can read all about why that’s a bad idea here.)

Poor quality ink can cause severe allergic reactions. Excessive itching, scabbing, and swelling can cause a tattoo that looked great in the studio to heal poorly.

If you don’t experience a reaction, it’s still possible for inferior ink to mess up your final product when it comes to how your tattoo will age. Cheap ink is more likely to fall out or to fade. This is particularly true of especially vibrant colors, which can quickly lose their luster–but even black can fade to a watery grey if the ink itself is not good quality.

At Paper Crane, we use only the highest quality tattoo ink, so you can breathe easy.

Skin Type Impacts How Your Ink Will Age

Because your skin is our canvas, it’s an important factor to consider when thinking about your long-term tattoo needs. Everything from the skin tone to the size of your pores can impact the tattooing process, which in turn impacts the final product.

At Paper Crane, our artists have tattooed a variety of skin types. We can advise you with confidence on what shades and styles will look good for years to come by taking into account the unique nuances of your skin.

We’d like to note that although reactions to ink are rare, it’s important to be upfront with your artist if you have any skin conditions, allergies, or immune disorders that might impact your body’s reaction to the introduction of tattoo ink. The more we know about your skin, the better we can do our job.

Style and Composition

You’ve probably heard the expression “bold will hold” in the tattoo industry. This refers to the time-honored belief that a design with bold outlines will typically age well. Consider the Traditional American pieces you see on the hands of weathered sailors: If done right in the first place, the bold lines and colors of these tattoos can hold up for decades with minimal retouching, even in the face of the elements.

But if you’re not fan of Traditional American style, is your tattoo doomed to age poorly in a short span of time? There is a lot of back-and-forth on this topic within the industry, especially in light of the wild popularity of watercolor tattoos. Some artists implement illustrative techniques that allow for some bold lines to help hold the tattoo in place over time; others add black shading and fine lines to color tattoos for the same reason. You’ll find some artists who refuse to do watercolor at all, just as you’ll find many who will take an outline-free approach.

At Paper Crane, we as a studio support the unique visions of our clients and artists. If you want a color tattoo that’s totally devoid of black outlines, we’ll be honest with you about the possibility that it might not age well–and if you’re concerned about that, we’ll work with you to find a creative solution that still captures your vision.

Composition is another major factor when it comes to a tattoo’s longevity, which is why we take our design process so seriously. A microtattoo with a ton of detail might look incredible when you first get it done–but ultimately, any tattoo that is too detailed for its size or that lacks clean lines will begin to look muddy as it ages. You might be better served with a larger piece if detail is important–or if it’s your goal to stay small, a simpler design will be your best bet. We use both hand-drawn approaches and iPads to ensure that your custom piece is composed in such a way that it will look great long after you leave our studio.

Aftercare and Beyond

A tattoo can only be as good as your aftercare routine. Even the most beautiful work of art can be destroyed if you don’t treat it like an open wound that requires special care.

It’s not a bad idea to get your aftercare products in order before your session to ensure that you have everything on hand. An antibacterial soap that is perfume-free is a must. We suggest Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve as our go-to aftercare lotion–and we carry it in our studio for your convenience!

Jars of Ora's Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve on the wooden counter of Paper Crane Studio in Long Beach, CA, part of our aftercare routine to help your tattoo age beautifully.

Before you leave the shop, be sure that you are 100% clear on your artist’s recommended instructions–and be sure to actually follow them! (You can find our general guidelines here if your memory is fuzzy.)

Proper aftercare during the two weeks following your session is critical–but if you want your tattoo to continue to look great, it’s equally important to care for it on a daily basis. Use SPF lotion if you’re going to expose it to the sun–or better yet, keep it covered if possible. On a regular basis, you should moisturize your tattoo to keep the ink looking fresh.

Give Your Tattoo Time

Did you get your tattoo within the last couple of months? Is it looking dull or just not as crisp as you’d like? Do you find yourself staring longingly at photos from the day you got it done, wishing it could be so vibrant and clean?

Don’t panic! It’s entirely possible that your skin is still recovering. The tattoo process is traumatic, and not everyone heals at the same rate. Even different areas of your body can heal differently, especially depending on your typical attire, daily routine, etc.

It’s amazing what a little love and care can do for a tattoo that is technically past the two-week healing window. Try applying a quality lotion like Ora’s Tattoo Salve throughout the day to see a major difference in a short amount of time. You might consider upping your water intake as well, as proper hydration can do wonders for your skin!

If time has gone by and you’re still concerned, we suggest reaching out to your artist about the possibility of a touch-up. Remember that a professional will be able to tell if you’ve picked at your tattoo or neglected to care for it, so be honest about your experience for best results.

Full sleeve in Irezumi style, full color, chrysanthemum, waves, and koi, by Owen Juarez of Paper Crane Studio in Long Beach, CA.

At Paper Crane, we take the long view with our tattoos. From the selection of our inks and aftercare products to the composition and tattooing of your piece, we want you to leave our studio with a tattoo you’ll love for a lifetime. So if you’re worried about how your tattoo is going to turn out, know that you are in good hands with us–and know that we’re here to walk you through every step of the process.

How Much Will My New Tattoo Hurt?

For many tattoo enthusiasts, the pain of new ink is part of the ritual. While some find it to be almost as addicting as the finished product itself, at Paper Crane we know that for some clients there is a lot of apprehension about just how much that tattoo needle might hurt. There are numerous factors to consider when it comes to pain, so we’re sharing our industry insight to help you decide how much you can handle for your next session.

Foo dog half sleeve with cherry blossoms by Mikey Vigilante, on the upper outer arm, which is one of the best places for a tattoo if you're worried about pain.

Pain Factor 1: The Tattoo Needle

If you’ve checked out our blog on tattoo needles, you know that your tattoo artist is actually using multiple needles (called “pins”) grouped together to achieve a certain stylistic goal.

Typically, the smaller the pin grouping, the more painful the tattooing experience. Most clients agree that the outlining of a tattoo is the most painful aspect. This is because a liner features as few as three pins–and even when it has more, the pins are grouped very tightly together.

With larger or more spread-out groupings, the pressure is distributed over a larger section of skin, which can result in less pain; this is true in the case of a magnum needle, as it features as many as forty-nine pins widely spaced out. Conversely, with a liner needle, the pressure is being applied intently to a smaller area, which equals sharper, more intense pain.

Interested in a fine-line or single-needle tattoo? Be prepared for some next-level ouchiness, depending on where you’re placing your new piece.

Pain Factor 2: The Intensity of Shading

We sometimes hear clients describe the pain from outlining as “cutting” and the pain from shading as “burning.” In the case of a tattoo that features some simple black-and-grey shading, it may very well be your experience that the outline is the most painful part of the session.

But consider the depth of shading that goes into a photorealistic rose or an illustrative owl: To capture the nuanced complexities that make these tattoos pop, an artist must go over the same patch of skin numerous times. This is equally true of black-and-grey and full color, as both approaches require careful blending during multiple passes.

A tattoo is an open wound, as the needle deposits ink by piercing the skin. Over the course of a two-hour session that involves heavy shading, an artist will apply layer upon layer of ink to the same patch of skin. That means the tattoo needle will be continuously poking your open wound. So although shading might not initially hurt as much as lining, the continued work on tender skin can prove to be pretty painful!

Pain Factor 3: The Heaviness of Your Artist’s Hand

At Paper Crane, we’re very proud of that fact that our artists are among the best in the industry. Our seasoned professionals know exactly the right amount of pressure to apply when tattooing to ensure that your tattoo looks as beautiful as you’re imagining.

Many tattoo artists struggle with this crucial aspect of tattooing. A heavy-handed artist is one who applies too much pressure. This results in the needle going too deep, which is considerably more painful than when the proper layer of your dermis is pierced. Moreover, it can result in displaced ink and shadows.

It’s important to note that there are a lot of reasons that a tattoo can scar or otherwise not heal well, including improper aftercare. You can read our tips on proper aftercare here. When you work with an artist at Paper Crane, you can rest assured that heavy-handedness won’t be an issue.

Pain Factor 4: Tattoo Placement

Truth time: Some tattoo placements just hurt more than others. You may really want to get some sacred geometry tattooed on your throat–but if you’re nervous about the pain, you should know it’s among the most sensitive areas on your body, whereas your outer arm is much less sensitive.

Although everyone’s body is different, this is a general breakdown of what to expect with tattoo placement:

  • Worst Pain Ever: Head, face, throat, spine, inner upper arm, wrist, hand, groin, inner thigh, knee cap, behind the knee, ankle, foot
  • Still Pretty Awful: Neck, collarbone, chest, rib cage, stomach, torso, lower back, inner elbow, inner forearm
  • Not Too Bad: Hip, outer thigh, mid back
  • Least Pain Possible: Shoulder, upper back, outer upper arm, outer forearm, butt

Pain Factor 5: Topical Anesthetics

So you really want sacred geometry on your throat, huh? Well, even if you’re terrified of the pain, there’s hope! We proudly carry HUSH topical anesthetic sprays and gels to help you manage pain. Sprays can be applied by your artist during your session to instantly numb your skin. HUSH’s long-lasting gel must be applied an hour before your session–and it can only be used after your first session is completed, as it can potentially interfere with the ink from our transfer paper.

“I always encourage my clients to feel the tattoo in its full experience at least once,” shop founder and senior artist Mikey Vigilante says. “But after a two hours of tattooing–especially on a sensitive area–your body can get overwhelmed. HUSH is a great alternative to splitting a tattoo into multiple sessions.”

Pain relieving gels and sprays for a relaxing tattoo session, courtesy of HUSH topical anesthetic.

Everyone has different sensitive spots, so your experience might be totally at odds with these insights. In any case, we hope that we’ve relieved some of your apprehension–and if not, we’d be happy to talk more with you about HUSH or to suggest alternative placements for your new ink.

We’ll leave you with this final thought from Mikey: “It’s important to ultimately choose your tattoo location without making pain your top consideration. While a tattoo can be intense, we will help you get through it. Choose a place that you will be happy with for a lifetime, as the pain is only temporary, while the tattoo is forever.”

How to Choose Your Tattoo Placement

For tattoo enthusiasts, the body is the ultimate canvas. At Paper Crane, we consider it an honor to permanently paint our clients with custom works of art. But the human skin differs in a very critical way from traditional canvases: Whereas you can hide a painting behind closed doors or tuck it away in a closet, your skin goes with you wherever you go. It’s important of course to love your new tattoo design—but it’s equally important to get it somewhere that you’ll thoroughly enjoy! That’s why we’re breaking tattoo placement down into a few easy steps on today’s blog.

Step 1: Decide how visible you want your new tattoo to be.

We live in an era where tattoos are more and more common, both in the US and across the world. Hand tattoos are still referred to as “job killers” by many tattoo professionals—but a cute little bow on your ring finger is less likely to be a hindrance to employment than it was once. Brides with full sleeves, lawyers with neck tattoos, models with chest pieces—although not everyone likes them, visible tattoos just aren’t particularly uncommon or unusual.

That said, there are many reasons to think about how visible you want your ink to be when deciding on tattoo placement:

  • Personal Importance
    • A tattoo is a lifetime commitment. (Yes, tattoo removal has come a long way, but you can’t always completely remove a piece—and it’s a big expense on top of the cost of the original tattoo.) It’s our hope that you’ll always love your ink, wherever you get it placed!
    • But we suggest considering the subject matter when thinking about visibility. A tattoo of something personal like your grandfather’s pocketwatch or your favorite dog will always carry sentimental value, so it’s probably a safe bet that you won’t mind showing it off or seeing it on a regular basis. Similarly, a tattoo that’s symbolic of a major life event or a fandom you’ve loved for years will likely always be important to you.
    • Certain tattoo subjects don’t necessarily hold their value as well, though, or they’re simply not all that meaningful to begin with. We’re not saying every tattoo has to be serious! We love tattooing things that are fun, weird, hilarious, etc. But if you’re getting a tattoo of a llama just because you think llamas are cute (which they totally are), you might consider a tattoo placement somewhere less front-and-center than a piece that has a more personal meaning.
    • The same goes for tattoos connected to passing interests. If you’re a die-hard Game of Thrones fan, go for the dragon sleeve! But if you’re not sure you’ll always be devoted to House Targaryen, you might want to go for a tattoo placement that isn’t as readily visible or as large.
  • Appropriateness
    • Real talk: People get tattoos that are explicit in nature, whether that means a curse word, a zombie orgy, or a flying tampon.
    • We have zero judgment and love getting creative with your ideas, so feel free to bring us your designs without feeling they’re too “out there.”
    • That said, it’s important to think about your day-to-day life if you’re getting something that might be considered inappropriate. Are you an adjunct professor at a conservative university? Are you heavily involved in charity work in your local community? Are you around other people’s kids in a professional capacity?
    • Ultimately, it’s your body and your call: We trust you to know what works for you in the real world and what doesn’t. (And if you’re cool with wearing long sleeves to your day job, we’re cool with tattooing that naked clown doing hot yoga on your forearm.)
  • Employment and Career Goals
    • While we agree that tattoos should not limit your career options, the fact is, they do. While some jobs might just want you to keep your art appropriate (sorry, naked yoga clown!), other employers have strict rules when it comes to tattoo placement.
    • Despite the popularity of finger tattoos, full hand tattoos can still result in discrimination in the workplace. The same goes double for face and neck tattoos: As misinformed, out of line, and ignorant as they might be, people will judge you.
    • If you’re involved in an industry like tattooing or if you’re a successful entrepreneur, then you don’t have to worry as much about mundane things like whether or not an employer cares about that rose on your neck. But if not, we would encourage you to consider if the placement of your tattoo is going to interfere both with your basic needs (like food and shelter) and your ultimate career goals.

Step 2: Consider where on your body your design will look the best.

Our artists are among the best in the industry. When we work on your tattoo design, we take into account the unique flow of your body so that your custom piece will fit exactly right.

  • Some tattoos look great no matter where you place them. Take flowers, for example: A few classic roses can flatter a shoulder blade, an elegant spray of orchids can look gorgeous on your calf, and a cherry blossom branch can perfectly fit the curve of your waist.
  • Other tattoos work better in specific areas. A string of rosary beads wrapped around your wrist or ankle may look better than when tattooed flat across your bicep. Tribal designs likewise often look best when wrapped around a body part.
  • Often, size and complexity play a key role in tattoo placement: A detailed portrait tattoo will read well on a flat expanse of skin like your back, whereas it might look warped or smushed on your ankle. A dainty moon, on the other hand, can be perfectly at home on even the most delicate of wrists.
  • Composition is also important to consider. Take a look at this Hanafuda card Mikey recently did, which is perfectly suited to this clients arm thanks to the shape and the angle of the piece:
  • Your personal build is also a factor, and it’s something our artists carefully account for during design. If you have thick thighs or curvy hips, a tattoo that takes full advantage of your proportions can look significantly better than a tattoo that that leaves a lot of blank skin. If you have extremely narrow arms but want an expansive sleeve, you might be better served to have the design placed on your side.

Step 3: Balance your tattoo placement with your existing (or planned!) art.

  • Is this your first tattoo? Your fifteenth?
  • Is this the start of a sleeve or a stand-alone piece?
  • Is the design for a statement tattoo or more of a filler?

You might not have answers to all of these questions—and that’s okay! We love approaching tattoos organically or with a master vision. Whether we’re adding on to a leg sleeve according to a thematic plan or expanding your tattoo collection as your ideas come, we’re here to make your art look amazing.

One question we get a lot is how to balance tattoo placement. Sometimes a client wants to achieve a balanced overall look with their current tattoos: This might mean putting a design on the left forearm to provide balance to a tattoo on the client’s right hip. Other times, a client wants a single piece to have a sense of balance: With a sleeve tattoo of a wildlife scene done in an illustrative style, this might mean having two or three central focal elements, whereas an American Traditional sleeve might incorporate numerous small designs with fillers in between to give a “finished” feel.

As always, personal preference is the key to balance. Is symmetry important to you, or do you want your tattoos all on one side? Do you like the cohesive look of a large-scale piece that’s been thoroughly planned, or do you prefer different pieces coming together one at a time? Do you like having a number of tattoos all over, or would you prefer them grouped together in one or two places?

We encourage you to check out our artist portfolios and social media to see what looks appeal to you, but remember that “balance” is a very subjective term—and we want to help you find your balance. That said, we’ll definitely use our industry experience and artistic perspective to advise you on placement so that your tattoo(s) look intentional.

Once upon a time, we might have included a Step 4 suggesting you take your pain tolerance into account—but at Paper Crane, we’re pleased to offer HUSH anesthetics, which make any tattoo placement a possibility. These high-end gels and sprays can numb you to the pain of your tattooing session—so even if you have a low tolerance for pain, you can still get that wrist or rib tattoo you’ve been half-dreading, half-dreaming about.

If you’ve got more questions about tattoo placement, we’re always here to help! And again, we’d love for you to check out our portfolios and follow us on Instagram/Facebook to get ideas about where you might like your next tattoo. When you’re ready to take the next step, schedule a consultation with one of our talented artists. We can’t wait to help you decide where to place your new tattoo!

Tattoo Etiquette: A Paper Crane Primer

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is whether or not it’s appropriate to tip an artist. (The answer is yes, if you’re wondering–and it’s also very appreciated!) Tipping is part of proper etiquette when you get a tattoo that you are pleased with, much in the same way you might tip your hairstylist for a job well done.

But did you know that tipping your artist is just one aspect of tattoo etiquette? Especially for first timers, it can be easy to get so wrapped up in anticipation and excitement that you completely overlook how you should (and shouldn’t!) approach the tattooing experience.
Whether it’s your first tattoo or your second full sleeve, we’ve put together a primer on basic etiquette to help you have as smooth of a session as possible. So pencils out: Class is in session!

Talk, Talk, Talk to Your Tattoo Artist

When you give us a call at Paper Crane or message us, it’s our goal to connect you directly with an artist who is a good match for your tattoo. After that, you’re welcome to reach out to us with any general questions or concerns! But when it comes to your tattoo consultation, session, design, etc., we would appreciate if you would contact your artist directly. Need to make a change to your appointment? Message your artist. Want to incorporate some wildflowers into that coyote skull tattoo? Message your artist. Curious about what kind of tattoo machine your artist prefers? You got it: Message your artist.
If you want to know about where you should park or learn more about tattoo needles, you can check out our FAQ here or explore our blog–or you can send us an email! But as a general rule, if your question directly impacts your tattoo, it’s best to communicate with your artist so that there is less chance of miscommunication.

Be On Time to Your Tattoo Appointment (All the Cool Kids Are Doing It)

We want the day you get tattooed to be as stress-free as possible for you, which is why we have a semi-private tattooing space and offer things like numbing creams and extensive aftercare guidelines. But one of the quickest ways to turn a memorable day into a disaster is to cut it too close when it comes to your appointment time: If you run into traffic or can’t find a parking spot (which is a very real issue in Long Beach), you’ll end up sweating the minutes as they tick by rather than savoring them.

We don’t want you to rush, because no tattoo is worth getting into an accident. But we do encourage you to take into account local traffic as well as parking conditions, whether that’s at our studio or anywhere else. It’s much better for your peace of mind to get to your appointment a few minutes early–and not being late is a great way to show respect for your artist’s time.

If you are going to be a few minutes late, we suggest letting your artist know (ONLY if you can do so safely–don’t text and drive, please!). If you’re going to be significantly late to your appointment, please remember that your artist may have other appointments after yours, so it may impact how much of your tattoo you end up getting done or result in a cancellation.

Similarly, if you need to move your appointment or cancel for any reason, please let your artist know as soon as possible! We absolutely understand that life happens, and we will do our best to accommodate your schedule. We ask you to respect your artist’s individual policies regarding cancellations and deposits, though–and please keep in mind that depending on your piece, it might be anywhere from a few days to a few months before we can book a new appointment for you.

Stay the Course for Your Tattoo Design

Your tattoo should be something you enjoy for a lifetime, so we invite creative collaboration at every step of the process. During your initial consultation, you’ll have a chance to go over ideas with your artist and get started on a design.

We absolutely understand if you have changes to your original vision during the days leading up to your tattoo. Just keep in contact with your artist to ensure that when the big day comes, the design is what you ultimately want.

Still have changes when you see the final design on the day of your tattoo? Let us know! But please be reasonable and realistic. Some examples: If you want to change the eye color on your pin-up girl tattoo, we can do that. If you want to add your grandfather’s birthday to a tribute tattoo, we may need to work that in during a separate session (depending on how elaborate or complex the piece is). If you want to change the placement of your piece, we should be fine, as long as it doesn’t mean making your tattoo significantly larger than we’ve originally planned for.

But if you’ve put down a deposit for a custom-designed Irezumi-style tattoo and now want a photorealistic portrait of your dog, that’s going to be problematic.

Why? Firstly, your artist might not specialize in the new style you’re requesting. Secondly, the time blocked off for your original design might not be sufficient to cover the time required to both design and tattoo your new idea. Thirdly, it’s not exactly respectful of your artist’s time to ask them to trash a piece they’ve created for you and then to design a brand new tattoo on the fly.

We would never expect you to get a tattoo that you have decided you no longer want, for whatever reason. If you show up at the shop and don’t want to go through with a design, we won’t chase you out to your car with a tattoo machine (we promise). But we do reserve the right to keep your deposit for the original design and to request an additional deposit for your new idea, especially if you change your mind the day of your appointment. The best way to avoid this disappointment is to think over your ideas thoroughly and to fully explore them with your artist during a consultation. That way you’ll be ready to get inked on the big day.

Don’t Haggle Over Tattoo Cost

We pride ourselves as Long Beach’s premier tattoo studio, with boutique-style service and the industry’s most talented professionals. We are not a bargain shop, nor do we haggle over our rates.

You can check out our previous blog on pricing, but if you’ve had a consultation you’ll have a good idea of what your tattoo is going to cost. When you come in for your appointment (whether it’s with us or at another studio), we strongly discourage you from trying to bring the price down. Remember: Tattoos are a luxury, not a necessity, and you get what you pay for.
If you run into financial difficulty, let your artist know as soon as possible that your tattoo might be out of your current price range. Depending on when you let us know (and at your artist’s discretion), we might be able to reschedule you for a later date, do a shorter session, or redesign your piece to be within your revised budget.

Say Yes to the (Right) Dress

What you wear to your appointment is of the utmost importance. We want you to be comfortable, especially if you’re in for a long session, so we advise against anything particularly restrictive. Moreover, we don’t want your new tattoo to get irritated on your way home: Depending on where you’re getting inked, we suggest wearing clothing that won’t rub your new tattoo or be particularly tight against it. If you’re getting a thigh tattoo, for example, loose sweats are a better choice than skinny jeans.

Your comfort on every level is extremely important to us, so we ask that you keep in mind your tattoo placement when you get dressed for your appointment. If you choose to wear a long-sleeved shirt to get a tattoo on your upper arm, you may end up having to take the shirt off entirely–and although we do have a semi-private tattooing space, there will potentially be other clients and artists in the shop.

If your tattoo requires you to be uncovered in any way that makes you uncomfortable, please let your artist know in advance about your concerns. We can suggest strategies to keep you as covered as possible, or we can discuss alternative placements.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

We’ve all seen someone lose it at a defenseless cashier when things aren’t going exactly their way, and we all know it isn’t pretty. We highly suggest NOT being that person when you’re getting a permanent procedure done!

We pride ourselves on our customer service at Paper Crane (just check out our Yelp reviews). At any stage of your journey with us, we welcome your input and encourage you to voice any concerns or questions that you might have. Our founder Mikey Vigilante is additionally available to address any issues. But just as we respect you as an individual and a client, we ask you to respect any tattooist as an individual and a professional. Our studio is a safe space: We have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of any kind, including demeaning/disrespectful language, inappropriate behavior, and anything else that makes anyone in our shop feel uncomfortable. This extends to any communication you have with our artists via email, text, social media, etc.

Show Your Appreciation for Your Tattoo Artist!

Ah, back to that age-old question: How much should I tip for my tattoo? In general, 10-20% of your total cost is a good guideline. You might consider bumping that up to 25% or more if your tattoo costs less than a few hundred (for example, consider a $50 tip on a $150 tattoo versus a $15 tip). If you’re getting a tattoo done over multiple sessions, we suggest tipping after each session as opposed to a single tip at the end.

The other way you can show your appreciation for our artists is to spread the word: Share your new ink on social media, tell your friends and family about our studio, recommend your artist to people at the grocery store when they tell you how cool your tattoo is. We would love if you’d email us about your experience, or you can leave us a review on Yelp or Facebook. We’d also be thrilled to feature your piece on our social media or monthly newsletter if you send us a picture!

If you follow these basic rules, you’ll go into your tattoo appointment with the seasoned grace of an old pro. But if you’ve got more questions, please feel free to message us or your artist. It’s our priority to give you a memorable experience and an authentic work of permanent art, so we are always happy to walk you through whatever is on your mind. We’ll see you soon for your next tattoo!

New You, New Tattoo: How Much Will Your Ink Cost?

With January at an end, we hope that you’re making progress on achieving (or revising!) your list of resolutions. Perhaps one of those resolutions was to get a new tattoo—or perhaps with the holiday season over, you’re ready to treat yourself to some new ink, now that you’ve treated everyone else on your list. (Whoops—forgot someone? Stop by the shop and pick up a gift certificate for them!)
If you’re indeed in the market for a new tattoo, our friendly and professional tattoo artists would love to see you in our welcoming studio. You’re welcome to come chat with our artists, check out portfolios, and set up a consultation. You can also email us at info@papercranetattoo.com to get started.

One of the questions we’re most frequently asked is how much a new tattoo is going to cost. While we’re very happy to provide you with an individual quote for your specific piece, we wanted to offer some general insight to get you started.

It Depends…

…on your artist: At Paper Crane Studio, our artists set their own hourly rates based on experience, ability, and speed. Generally, our rates range from $160-$200 per hour. That means that until we match you with an artist, we’ll wait on giving you a quote.

We pride ourselves on being home to only the best artists, which means you’ll always get a quality tattoo at our studio. With that in mind, we strongly suggest you choose an artist based on their tattooing style, not their hourly rate! You can browse portfolios in person or visit our Instagram @papercranestudio to get familiar with our individual artists’ specialties, strengths, and nuances. (In fact, we’d love if you screenshot a few of your favorite pieces from our Instagram and send them our way when you email us about your next tattoo.) That way, whether you’re interested in something colorful and intricate or extremely minimalist, you’ll pick an artist whose work truly resonates with you.

Tattoo Size Matters 

We love getting your emails, especially when you include pictures or descriptions of the tattoo you’re interested in getting from us. But we can’t always tell from a picture or description just how big you want your new ink to be—and a tattoo that’s two inches across is going to have a very different price tag than a piece you want to span your shoulder blade. Since our artists work hourly, letting us know approximately what you’re thinking will help us give you an idea of your cost.
Our artists are committed to working with the unique flow of each client’s body during the design process, so we’ll advise you honestly on how big or small we feel your tattoo should be in order to properly fit you. And because we want your tattoo to “read” clearly and beautifully, we’ll let you know if any adjustments need to be made in either the size of your piece or the amount of detail.

We have a session minimum of $100, even for the tiniest of tattoos. You might think that sounds like a lot to get a single word tattooed on your wrist, for example—but please remember that “simple” pieces like script are actually some of the most difficult to tattoo, as there is little to no margin for error. The minimum cost covers our materials as well as the time spent designing your piece, prepping for your session, and cleaning up afterwards.

Tattoo Cost = Details, Details, Details

In the same way that size determines the hours spent on your new tattoo, the level of detail that goes into a piece can have a major impact on the cost. If you’re interested in a full-color sleeve in a photorealistic style, such a piece may involve many hours of outlining, layering, shading, and detailing to get it just right. That’s not to say that complicated color pieces are by default going to cost you more than other tattoos: Dotwork, blackwork, linework, and black-and-grey tattoos can all require a significant time investment, depending on the design. Consider some of the finer examples of the popular mandala “underboob” tattoo: Such intricate linework requires a steady hand and a lot of patience.

Whatever the level of detail you’re interested in, a quality tattoo is absolutely worth the cost. Why? Because it’s a permanent piece of wearable art—and when done right, it will reflect the truest version of yourself and provide you with joy for many years to come.

On a Budget? Talk to Your Tattoo Artist!

As one of Southern California’s premier tattoo studios, we do not offer bargain tattoos or haggle over our rates. Tattoos are both a luxury and a legitimate art, and we’re committed to quality over quantity. But we get it if you’re on a budget, and we’re willing to work with you.

During your consultation, you can let your artist know your price threshold. We can break your tattoo into multiple sessions if that’s ultimately more doable for your budget. Typically, we spend two to four hours per session on larger pieces to get plenty of work done without putting you in too much pain. But even on a smaller piece, we can knock out the linework in one session, for example, and handle the color during a later session. Alternatively, we can approach the design in such a way that means less time tattooing in total (whether that means going a little smaller or implementing a different technique).

Available Tattoo Designs

If you want to get a new tattoo but don’t have a set idea, we encourage you to check out our tattooists on Instagram and Facebook! As passionate artists, we are constantly creating new designs that either typify our preferred styles or push our creative boundaries. That means you’ll often find designs online that we’re really interested in tattooing—and you can sometimes (not always) get such a design at a special price.

If you end up picking an available design and getting a special rate, we ask that you respect your artist’s discretion when it comes to customization. You might have a couple of minor adjustments that we’re cool with—but if you end up totally re-designing the offered piece, please keep in mind that the artist’s standard rate will apply. For example: If you claim an available rose design from an artist and try to subtly turn it into a portrait of your favorite aunt, we’re going to notice.

Tattoo Quotes and Consultations

We will ALWAYS discuss the hourly estimate and cost of your tattoo prior to your first session. Sometimes we can provide a quote via email—but for more complex pieces (like a sleeve or a cover-up), we prefer to schedule an in-person consultation to go over the details of your new tattoo and to give you the most accurate quote possible.

Once we get your session scheduled and receive your deposit, we start designing your new tattoo. We absolutely understand if you have adjustments to make or if you change your mind on certain elements: We want you to leave our studio with a piece you’ll love for a lifetime, so we encourage creative collaboration at every step! But remember that the quote you receive applies to the tattoo you originally requested, so major changes can impact the amount of time your artist ultimately spends tattooing you. Additionally, our hourly estimate can change based on any number of factors beyond our control.

If you’re ready to get started on your new tattoo, send us an email! We would love to see what you’re interested in and get you set up with the perfect artist, who can help you take the next step in setting up a consultation, getting a quote, and scheduling your tattoo session.
Stay tuned for our next blog on tattoo etiquette, where we’ll consider such questions as how much to tip your artist and who really owns a tattoo once it’s been inked. See you soon!

A Year to Remember

As 2017 draws to a close, we want to say thank you to our amazing clients, friends, and family for giving us the opportunity to create authentic art each and every day in beautiful Long Beach. We are truly living the dream, all thanks to you!

Flash Tattoo Madness

It’s been a memorable year for the shop, for so many more reasons than we can explain. But let’s start with a universal favorite: FLASH FRIDAY! Flash tattoo events are a time-honored tradition in the industry, during which our artists design original work that we offer at a set price. At our Friday-the-13th Flash, palm-sized tattoos cost just $40 (that’s $31 in honor of 13 plus a $9 tip, in case you’re wondering)—whereas usually one of these designs at bare minimum would run $100. During our October event, we tattooed over 100 people! We’re grateful for such patient clients and artists alike, and we’re proud to say the day was a roaring success.
We did a Black Friday Flash this year as well, to give people an alternative to the insanity of shopping for discount blenders and bamboo socks. The designs were larger than at previous events, which gave us a little more room to stretch our creative muscles.

We’ll be doing more flash events in the year ahead, so stay tuned!

Giving Back

As tattoo artists, we’re extremely fortunate to do what we love for a living, all in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We care about our clients and our community, and we were so excited to be able to give back in meaningful ways this year. At our “Caring Cranes” event in June, we tattooed for a cause by offering special tattoo designs and origami cranes; the event benefited local charities like the Peter Mayhew Foundation, Long Beach Ronald McDonald House, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
We were amazed by the generosity of our local community at this event—and then just a few months later, we were overwhelmed by the selflessness of our social media followers. We asked you to help rebuild lives in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma by donating to charitable organizations, with the intent of matching your donations dollar for dollar—and we were humbled at how many people gave so generously to those in need.

Let’s keep that kindness rolling forward into the new year: If you have any local, national, or global causes you’re passionate about, let us know. We are always open to fundraisers, big or small.

Growing Our Tattooing Family

We’ve been fortunate to host some amazing guest artists this year, like Keik Balcazar, Buddy Love, Erna Von Pentz, and Annabelle Luyken (who does some seriously artful vagina tattoos). In 2018 we’ll be hosting another round of internationally-renowned artists, so be sure you’re following our social media for big announcements! (And if you’re interested in visiting us as a guest artist, be sure to send an email our way.)
We also are so thrilled to have welcomed a new member to our team in September. The extremely versatile Jade Quail excels at both traditional and neotraditional designs, but she’s also a master of woodcut-style tattoos and intense dotwork pieces.

All of our artists have experienced major growth and achievements this year. We’re working constantly to better ourselves as professionals so that we can offer you the best tattoos in the industry, all in Southern California’s friendliest tattoo studio.

Looking Ahead 

As New Year’s Day approaches,  we encourage you to jot down one last resolution: Come see us at Paper Crane. We mean it: We’d love to finish that tattoo you started last year or to fix that piece you’ve been hiding since freshman year of college. (It’s okay. We’ve been there.)
Remember that tattoos are a way of expressing on the outside how you feel on the inside. Whatever that means to you, we embrace and accept it. Whether you want to cover a surgical scar, memorialize a loved one, finish off a sleeve, or simply celebrate a new chapter of life, we’re here for you. size.

We’ve got big things in store for the new year, from special events at the shop to exciting videos with our artists and more. What would you like to see from us in 2018? Drop us a line at info@papercranetattoo.com to let us know! size.

We wish you safe celebrations on New Year’s Eve and a joyous New Year’s Day. We’ll see you in 2018!