Floral Tattoos: Always in Bloom

Floral tattoos are easily one of the most popular requests we get—and for good reason. Whether you’re interested in color or blackwork, realism or abstract art, bold or subtle, floral tattoos can be rendered in a wide variety of stunning styles. That’s why they are among our top choices for your next tattoo. Learn how you can create a piece you’ll love for a lifetime below.

Floral tattoos like this blue and red chrysanthemum by Mikey Vigilante are timeless for a reason.

Chrysanthemum by Mikey Vigilante

1. Choose Your Flower(s)

Are you sentimental about sunflowers? Do peonies make your heart go pitter-patter? Perhaps wildflowers are more your style. When considering floral tattoos, the first step is to collect a list of what flowers you’d like your artist to work with. There are no rules to choosing floral inspiration! You might want to pick a loved one’s favorite flower to honor their memory, or maybe you want to choose your personal favorite flower instead.

Some blossoms lend themselves to floral tattoos better than others. Roses and chrysanthemums are classics for a reason, for example. A lotus is another flower that can look beautiful in practically any style. Depending on the aesthetic and size you are going for, an artist might counsel against certain flowers based on their petal density, shape, etc. But don’t fret: Even if your preferred flower isn’t a perfect fit for the size or style you’re interested in, we can either suggest a different flower or draw inspiration from your choice to create something that will look amazing.

2. Pick a Style for Your Floral Tattoos

Do you love floral tattoos in full color? Are you looking for the simple elegance of a blackwork outline? Do you want a rose rendered in black-and-grey?

All of these options and more are possibilities when designing floral tattoos. Flowers look stunning in blackwork, black-and-grey, and color alike, whether the actual flower is plain or particularly colorful. You can even add hints of color to a blackwork or black-and-grey piece to accentuate certain aspects of floral tattoos.

Poppies by Joy Shannon

Tattoo aesthetic is another factor. You can find floral tattoos done in every style imaginable: American Traditional, neotraditional, Irezumi, realism, surrealism, painterly, linework, and illustrative all work well for flowers.

Once you’ve picked a style you love, we can match you with an artist for a consultation.

3. Determine Size and Location

Floral tattoos work well on just about any body part. A branch of cherry blossoms can flow beautiful on a person’s side, while a large peony can work beautifully as a shoulder cap.

Depending on where you want to put your tattoo, your artist will work with you to compose the piece in a way that suits the location. A floral thigh tattoo would have a different composition than a forearm piece, for example.

If you have a composition in mind already—such as a single rose, a cluster of sunflowers, or a long spray of lavender—your artist can help you pick the best location.

Floral tattoos by Suzanne ShifflettFloral tattoos by Suzanne Shifflett

During your consultation, please let your artist know the size you are thinking in inches. There is a world of difference in what we can capture in a 4” tattoo versus an 8” tattoo, so that information help us determine the best design. Small floral tattoos can be just as beautiful as large ones, so don’t worry if you’re not ready to go for a full sleeve!

We will always advise you honestly about the level of detail we can do at your requested size. For example: If you want a realistic rose in full color on your finger, we will let you know a piece at that size and on that location will not age well. We might instead suggest a simple linework rose there or encourage you to move the rose to your forearm if you want to stick with color realism.

4. Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Floral Tattoos with an Artist!

Ready to start your tattoo garden? Send us a message to get matched with an artist. If you’re curious instead about adding floral details to a larger tattoo, stay tuned for our next blog!

Painterly bird of paradise in full color tattoo by Don Sellers

Bird-of-Paradise by Don Sellers

Tattoo Cost: What to Expect

When it comes to tattoo cost, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. There are a number of factors to consider—and as a result, it is a multi-step process to get an estimate from an artist. To help you help us, we’re breaking down some of the elements that contribute to the cost of your tattoo.
Tattoo cost varies based in part on size. This Ganesh back piece by Mikey Vigilante is a multi-session piece.

Tattoo Cost #1: 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-$225 per hour. Because of this, artists provide quotes directly (rather than the studio).

Although tattoo cost is obviously important to consider, we strongly suggest choosing an artist whose style and vibe you love—even if they are more per hour than you’d initially thought. A tattoo is something you’ll wear for a lifetime, so it is vital to choose an artist whose style matches your vision. With tattoos especially, get what you pay for, especially when it comes to skill level.

We are proud to say that all of our artists are top notch, so it’s easy to match with someone whose style and skill level align with your ideas.  You can browse portfolios on our website or visit our Instagram @papercranestudio to get familiar with our individual artists’ specialties and styles.

Tattoo Cost #2: Size

We love when you email us about your tattoo ideas, especially when you include reference pics. But we can’t always tell from a picture or description how big you want your new piece to be—and we don’t know what a “medium tattoo” means in terms of inches. A tattoo that’s palm-sized is going to have a very different cost than a full back piece. Since our artists work hourly, letting us know what you’re thinking in inches will help us give you an idea of your tattoo cost.
We work with the unique flow of each client’s body during the design process, so we’ll let you know you how big or small we feel your tattoo should be in order to properly fit you. Because we want your tattoo to “read” clearly, we’ll let you know if any adjustments need to be made when it comes to the size of your piece or the amount of detail.

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

Tattoo Cost #3: Level of Detail

In the same way that size determines your tattoo cost, detail is also a big factor. If you’re interested in a full-color sleeve or a complex cover-up, your tattoo cost will reflect  many hours of outlining, layering, shading, and detailing to get it just right. Color, dotwork, blackwork, linework, and black-and-grey tattoos can all require a significant amount of hours, depending on the design.

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.

Tattoo Cost #4: Location

One of the less talked about tattoo cost factors is location: Where do you want your new tattoo to go?

If you’ve attended one of our Friday the 13th events, you’ll know we usually only tattoo arms and legs during flash events. These areas tend to be the easiest to tattoo, so we can move fairly quickly—which keeps the cost down during a regular appointment.

Other areas present unique considerations. For example, neck tattoos are more painful than arm tattoos, which means more tensing or movement from a client. This in turn slows our process down. Even if  you sit like a rock, neck skin is more delicate and requires extreme care (and therefore more time) during the tattoo application. The same is true of wrist skin as well as other areas. For other spots, convexity or concavity can mean a different approach is required than for a flat plane.

Wherever you want your tattoo to go, we can work with you to ensure you get a piece you love.

Tattoo Cost #5: Your Budget

Your budget is a major factor when it comes to tattoo cost. During your consultation, you can let your artist know what you are looking to spend. We can potentially break your tattoo into multiple sessions: Typically, we spend two to four hours per session on larger pieces, which can require
several such sessions. On a smaller piece, we can potentially do the linework in one session, for example, and do the color during a later session. We can alternatively approach the design in such a way that means less time tattooing in total.

Sometimes, depending on the size and complexity, we may suggest saving up if your budget isn’t realistic. 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—even if it means putting a pin in your piece for the time being.

The Ultimate Estimate

We will always discuss the hourly estimate and cost of your tattoo before we start tattooing. We can sometimes provide a quote via email—but for more complex or custom pieces, we prefer to schedule a consultation to go over the details and give you the most accurate quote possible. Even then, please note that our hourly estimate can change based on any number of factors beyond our control.

Message Us!

If you’re ready to get started on your new tattoo, we would love to see what you’re interested in. Please let us know the size and location—and send along any references if you have them!

COVID Update

Please read below for the latest COVID update regarding our studio closure…

COVID Update

Due to the most recent COVID update to statewide orders, our studio is currently closed.

We understand how frustrating this is if you finally just got rescheduled or if you booked a new appointment with us in the past week. We apologize for the inconvenience and will be in contact with you as soon as we can tattoo you.

We will be honest: This is a frustrating and frightening cycle for our family of artists. We implore everyone to please do whatever you can to help minimize the further spread of this virus so that we can open without fear of another shutdown. By putting the well-being of the masses ahead of our own fleeting impulses, we can overcome this crisis together—and get back to tattooing every single day of the year.

We hope to update you soon with a more definite timeline. In the meantime feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

To get on our waitlist for our reopening, please email us at or schedule a consultation here. To learn more about our COVID update on safety protocols, visit our previous blog or our Instagram.

COVID Tattooing Protocols: Keeping Everyone Safe

At Paper Crane, our top priority is safety. This has always been the case, even before the COVID crisis: Tattooing requires a specialized level of care to ensure we all stay well while creating beautiful art. That’s why we undergo blood-born pathogen training, use disposal tools, and follow strict sanitation protocols.

COVID tattooing protocols have been updated so we can create beautiful tattoos while keeping you safe.

COVID Tattooing Updates

In light of the unique nature of the current pandemic, we have adapted and updated our protocols in order to protect our clients, artists, and families:
• We have installed hospital-grade air purifiers in both of our tattooing rooms. Each purifier features a six-stage filtration system that traps bacteria and particles that carry viruses. The air volume of each room is fully cycled every thirty minutes.
• Before opening each day, we are sanitizing the studio. Light switches, door handles, tattooing surfaces, electronic equipment, chairs, etc. all receive a thorough wipe-down with a virucidal disinfectant. This is similar to our standard routine, but with increased frequency and detail.
• At the door, we are checking temperatures of both artists and clients with a no-touch thermometer. If anyone has even a slight fever, we are not allowing entry.
• We are asking clients to wash their hands upon entry and only touch surfaces that are necessary to have contact with. We are directing clients to hang their personal items on designated hooks. If you have your phone out, we request that you wipe it down with a alcohol wipe that we will happily provide.
• Clients are requested to come alone to their appointments. No friends or family are allowed in the lobby or tattoo rooms.
• Artists are wearing protective gear, including masks an/or or a full face shield. This is in addition to the usual disposable gloves and other necessary PPE.
• Clients are required to wear masks, which we ask them to bring themselves.
• After each session, we are repeating our sanitation protocol.

Temporary Capacity Limitations

We are also taking steps to limit your exposure during your time at the studio. You can have peace of mind thanks to the following:
• For the foreseeable future, we are not accepting walk-ins.
• We are limiting the number of clients and artists in the studio at any given time.
• We are enforcing strict social distancing and limiting cross-traffic.

COVID Tattooing Deposit + Rescheduling Policy

• If you have been exposed to anyone with symptoms or shown symptoms yourself within the last two weeks, we are allowing reschedules without the loss of your deposit. Please give your artist as much notice as possible.
• If an artist has been exposed to anyone with symptoms or shown symptoms themselves within the last two weeks, we will contact you for a reschedule. We appreciate your understanding if this occurs.
• When you leave a deposit, it is with the individual artist. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your artist directly. If you can’t reach your artist, please contact the studio.

Please note that while we are excited to tattoo you, safety is our priority now and always. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who does not adhere to our guidelines.

Tattoo Coverup? We’ve Got You Covered.

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 coverup 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 coverup–so if you’re wearing long sleeves to hide a piece you hate, read on!
Tattoo coverup expert Mikey Vigilante tattooing a client in Long Beach.

Consideration 1: Tattoo Coverup vs. Touchup

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 touchup is potentially an easier process than a full tattoo coverup 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 coverup, we’re always happy to take a look and see what’s possible. A touchup 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 coverup 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 coverup. 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 coverup. 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 Coverup

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 coverup artist.)

This ornamental lotus by founding artist Mikey Vigilante is a solid example of working with the existing structure of a piece to create a seamless tattoo coverup. By building on the unfinished linework, Mikey was able to create a new piece that doesn’t scream coverup when you look at it.

Tattoo coverup of an ornamental lotus by Mikey Vigilante


Consideration 4: Total Tattoo Cover-Up

We understand that for some pieces a total tattoo coverup 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 coverup options.

Other factors to consider in your tattoo coverup 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 coverup 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 coverup better than simple or one-dimensional designs.

Consideration 5: Tattoo Coverup Expectations

We’ve got zero judgment when it comes to your tattoo coverup. Whether you let someone tattoo you in their garage during lockdown or just hate your existing ink, we have a number of artists who are experts in tattoo transformation.

Senior artist Mikey Vigilante helps apprentice Jackie Siu with a tattoo design.

One of the biggest ways to succeed with your coverup 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 tattoo coverup you have in mind, or certain elements might show through no matter what an artist does.

If you go into your coverup 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 coverup. If we can’t agree on a design or if your tattoo just isn’t a candidate for a coverup, 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 coverup 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 coverup or a custom original.

If you’re interested in getting your old ink redesigned, send us an email to get scheduled for a virtual 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 coverup experts. We look forward to helping you love your new tattoo!

Virtual Tattoo Consultations and Quarantine Art

To help curb the spread of COVID19 and comply with both state and local guidelines, our studio is currently closed. We look forward to re-opening as soon as officials declare it safe to operate non-essential businesses. In the meantime, we are finding new ways to connect with our creativity and our clients, including virtual tattoo consultations.

Sacred geometry footwork design by Mikey Vigilante

Virtual Tattoo Consultations

In order to observe social distancing and soothe your concerns, we are proud to offer virtual tattoo consultations. You can get scheduled by emailing us at or clicking here. Our artists will walk you through how to measure/photograph the area you want to get tattooed and can even take a deposit online.

We are anticipating a rush upon re-opening, due to tax returns, stimulus checks, rescheduled appointments, etc. As a result, you may have a long wait if you wait to book a consultation after the quarantine period. A virtual consultation is a great way to ensure you can get tattooed sooner rather than later once the current situation has passed.

Quarantine Art

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen some of the amazing drawings, paintings, and more our artists have been working on. We are all digging deep into our creativity by studying art and exploring our talents. It’s our hope to apply what we discover to our tattoo designs, so that we can bring you the very best tattoos when we re-open.

Many of our artists have merchandise for sale, from t-shirts to prints. You can check out their social media or message them directly to see what they have available. As a studio we plan to be offering stickers, new clothing designs, and more soon!

If you are interested in commissioning a custom piece of artwork, now is the time: Our usual schedules are typically too busy for non-tattoo related commissions, but currently we have an abundance of both creative inspiration and availability.

Mikey Vigilante

Joy Shannon

Owen Juarez

Suzanne Shifflett

Jade Quail

Jackie Siu

Daniel Madsen

Don Sellers

Your support means the world to us, whether it’s a comment on a post or the purchase of some of our work. Thank you for being part of our journey even now.

Tattoo Design: How We Create Beautiful Art

Tattoo design is an essential component of our industry: Although it’s often done behind the scenes, our artists spend considerable time drafting, drawing, and perfecting each piece. Even a small tattoo may have been worked on for several hours before it ever becomes a stencil.

Tattoo design is an essential part of what artists like Daniel Madsen do in Long Beach.

Our clients primarily see the application side of our industry, but on today’s blog we’re walking you through some of the basics of tattoo design.

Tattoo Design for Custom Commissions

When you make an appointment with an artist to work on a unique piece, it is a custom commission. That means we create a tattoo design especially for you, without turning to past designs or flash sheets. Our primary focus is custom tattoo work–just check out what we’ve been working on lately!

Our inbox is always open to discuss ideas, but to start on your tattoo design we need to see you at the studio for a consultation. (We can sometimes accommodate virtual consultations for certain tattoos, but that is up to the individual artist.) During a consultation, we accomplish a few central goals:

  • Discuss ideas. A reference pic is a great jumping off point for your tattoo design, but a face-to-face consultation allows us to tease out what elements of the reference you are actually drawn to. If the idea is still in your head, our experienced artists know just the questions to ask to start drafting a concept. (You’ll be amazed at how readily we can sketch out on paper what’s been floating around your mind!)
  • Sketch a draft. While the majority of tattoo design is done outside of your consultation, the back-and-forth conversation gives us a chance to start drawing up a sketch with you. We can then use the sketch as a foundation for a first draft, knowing that you’ve walked us through any specifications you might have.
  • Measure your arm, leg, etc. A hugely important consideration for tattoo design is the space we have to work with. A picture of your arm is great—but to compose something that truly fits your anatomy without being too crowded or too sparse, exact measurements are ideal. This also allows us to know what size you want your tattoo to be: You may want a “medium-sized” tattoo, but we may have very different ideas of what that means in actual inches.
  • Check your vibe. An in-person meeting can reveal a world of information that an email can’t. By chatting with you, seeing your other tattoos, and getting a feel for your personal style, we can gather details both big and small that can impact the overall feel of your tattoo design. 

Digital Tattoo Design 

Rarely does a tattoo design spring fully formed from our heads. Instead, we tend to go through several drafts of a design based on the consultation notes, our artistic mood, the input of our peers, the creative studies we are undertaking, and many other factors.
Many of our artists like to make a tattoo design 100% digitally. When using a program like ProCreate, we add numerous “layers” to an individual piece, each of which can be removed or further built on. If you ever have watched a time-lapse video of an artist using ProCreate, you’ll understand how much time we spend adding, erasing, adding again, and fine tuning each tattoo design.
Digital tools can also allow an artist to use a photograph for a realism tattoo as the basis of their design. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is easy: An artist still puts time into composing the piece, whether that means making a collage of photographic references or drawing in additional details. You can see an example of the latter in this pet portrait by Suzanne Shifflett, who used the dog’s picture as the basis for her design but created a custom frame.

Tattoo design of a pet portrait by Suzanne Shifflett.

Additionally, an artist must map out the lines of the tattoo onto the photographic references rather than printing out a stencil-version of the picture as is. This requires a careful eye, as the artist is essentially deconstructing the photograph to capture its essential composition.

Hand-Drawn Goodness 

While iPads have truly made their mark on our industry, many artists still prefer to draw out your tattoo design by hand. It’s a similar process in that we create an initial draft and make countless changes until we feel it is ready to present to you for a final inspection. But unlike ProCreate, a sketchbook does not feature an undo button. This means that any edits must be made by hand—which often means starting over entirely.
We have artists who prefer to do a mix of hand-drawn and digital designs. Owen Juarez often does color studies by hand, for example, before rendering a digital tattoo design to advertise on Instagram. Everyone’s process is unique—just like each tattoo we create.
Tattoo design by Owen Juarez.

Elements of Tattoo Design

Whether we are working with colored pencils or an iPad, there are a few critical elements that help us navigate the design process:

  • Composition: The way a tattoo design is laid out can make or break the finished piece. Does the design feature just one subject? Is there a focal piece with additional embellishments? Are there multiple focal points? Is the tattoo meant to tell a story? Are the various elements sized correctly with respect to one another? The goal is a design with proportionate elements, an overall sense of balance, and a pleasing aesthetic—and it is a lot more complicated to get there than you might think. Artists spend hours re-sizing, mirroring, moving, and replacing individual elements to get your tattoo design just right.
  • Size: Are you interested in a full sleeve or a palm-sized tattoo? Depending on your answer, we will give you two vastly different tattoos. Larger pieces allow for more details as well as more freedom when it comes to composition, while smaller pieces typically require simplification or fine linework. No size is inherently better than another, but it is nonetheless an important consideration during tattoo design.
  • Readability: Readability applies to more than just script tattoos. Whatever the subject, an ideal tattoo design is easy to understand when you look at it: There should be no question of “what am I looking at” when you show off your new piece. We achieve readability through a variety of techniques, such as bold linework or adjustments in the color palette. Size and composition also dictate what we can do with your tattoo to make it readable.
  • Placement: We create each tattoo to match the unique flow of your body. This means each piece is tailored to your specific anatomy. A full sleeve and a thigh piece are both large tattoos, but they require very different approaches to design. An aquatic-themed sleeve would have a lot of lovely movement and multiple focal points, for example, while a thigh piece would allow for a much larger central subject with a great depth of detail.
  • Longevity: A tattoo is yours for a lifetime. We want it to look good for years to come, not just the day you leave the studio. We keep the aging process in mind with your tattoo design, which is why we may advise that you size up or simplify certain pieces.

Deposit = Tattoo Design

Because of the nature of the tattoo design process, we require a deposit before we will get to work on your piece. We are happy to sketch out ideas with you during a consultation, but we will not work up a full preview before you commit to an appointment.
As artists, we do not charge you for the many hours that we spend working on your design, which means that we don’t get paid unless you get tattooed. That’s why we want you to be totally sure you want a tattoo before we start the design—and your deposit is a sign of good faith that you’ll be coming back to us. (If you back out at the last minute or miss your appointment, please keep in mind that the deposit doesn’t actually cover our design time.)
On occasion we get asked if we can create a tattoo design as an art piece. Some of our artists are open to custom commissions, but the price is typically more than that of a deposit.

Making Changes

If you have small edits to make to your design the day of your appointment, we can typically accommodate you. This might include a change in the eye color on a portrait, for example, or adding a small element like a single flower. Major changes may require both a new appointment and a new deposit, with each artist making this decision at their discretion.
To avoid any inconvenience and to show respect to the design process, we usually require a consultation for any large-scale custom work. We also ask that you let us know of any changes you have well before your tattoo session. Not every artist provides previews of a tattoo design in advance; but if you are clear in your communication and trust our creative expertise, we do an excellent job of capturing your ideas.

Get Started Today

If you’re ready to start your tattoo design, email us today to start on a consultation!

Why Skincare Matters to Your Tattoos

You already know how critical aftercare is to the final outcome of your tattoo (and if you don’t, we’ve got lots of information to share with you!). But did you know that daily skincare plays a huge role in how your tattoos look? From scrubbing down in the shower to protecting yourself from the sun, you can make the most of your ink with just a little bit of effort.

Proper skincare can keep this tiger sleeve from Mikey Vigilante looking fierce.

(Mikey Vigilante)

Skincare = Exfoliation

If you’ve been diligent about aftercare, you know how great a tattoo looks during those first few weeks. But after time has gone by, some people might notice that their tattoo has started to look a little dull–even though they’ve practiced proper suncare (more on that later!).

Don’t fret: That dullness could be the result of dead skin cells that have built up over time. Because out skin is constantly regenerating, we have cells that die off and need to be shed. These cells can make your skin in general look dull–and it’s especially noticeable on tattoos.

Rinsing off might get you clean, but consider working exfoliation into your skincare routine to see real results. You don’t need any major tools: Just give your fully healed tattoo a good scrub the next time you’re in the shower. You’ll see colors brighten up and black-and-grey/blackwork regain much of its crispness.

Skeletons need skincare, too.

(Jesse Iris)

Contrary to what some believe, exfoliation will not fade a healed tattoo. Tattoo ink is injected into the dermis, and we only deal with our epidermis during the course of normal skincare.

Remember: This is only for healed tattoos! Don’t scrub at a tattoo that’s still peeling!


Skincare = Moisturization

Exfoliation isn’t the only way to tackle dry skin–and aftercare isn’t the only time that moisturization matters.

Once your tattoo is fully healed, moisturization is an important part of daily skincare if you want to keep your art crisp and vibrant. This is especially true of areas that get a lot of exposure to the elements like your hands, arms, feet, or legs. But even a stomach tattoo that’s always covered can benefit from the soothing effects of a good moisturizer.

The top layer of your skin (the stratus corneum) is a network of skin cells, fats, and oils. When you apply a moisturizer, you help the stratus corneum lock in moisture that keeps your skin from drying out or cracking. This means you’re also protecting the dermis from infection by ensuring your epidermis is healthy and whole.

Think of your skin as a living canvas. When it’s hydrated with the help of a moisturizer, your skin is smoothe to the touch. That means your tattoos have a better surface on which to shine.

We suggest using moisturizers that are free of chemical irritants to best protect your tattoos. All-natural options are typically our favorite!.

Skincare = Suncare

We can’t talk about suncare enough when it comes to tattoos. If you want to prevent fading, you absolutely must use sunscreen or protective clothing with built-in SPF.

Suncare is part of skincare.

(Lindsey Morehead)

An easy way to be sure you protect your tattoos is to make suncare a step in your daily skincare routine. Many moisturizers include SPF, so you can always just apply one of these to your tattoos when you start your day. If you’re going to be out in direct sunlight, consider sunscreen as an additional step to keeping your tattoos looking great.


Proper Skincare = Radiance

If you’re free of skin conditions that require special medication or attention, proper skincare in and of itself can make a huge difference in your overall glow. Washing your skin gets rid of pollutants and irritants that build up throughout the day, as well as those dead skin cells that can cause itching and redness. Moisturization can prevent infections that can destroy your tattoos, simply by keeping your epidermis from developing fissures that let in bacteria. A little bit of sun protection can help you avoid a nasty sunburn that ends with blistering and peeling (which can in turn lead to infection or color loss).

Again, your skin is a canvas. When it’s healthy and happy, you’re more likely to avoid irritations like rashes or scaly spots that can impact how your tattoo looks. If your skin is radiant, your tattoos will be, too.

Please note: If you’ve got a condition that causes you to have irritated skin (dryness, hives, etc.), we suggest talking with your doctor about what you can do to help your tattoos look their best if your condition impacts them.


We know your tattoos are your best accessory, so we urge you to take care of them through daily skincare. If you’ve done any damage to your ink, we would love to help you get it looking great again with a touch-up (or even a cover-up if necessary), so get scheduled with us today!

The Best Time to Get a Tattoo: Winter!

While we’d like to say that the best time to get a tattoo is any time, the true answer is actually very layered. Work schedules, travel plans, financial considerations–these factors and more must be weighed, especially for large-scale tattoos.

Winter is the best time to get a tattoo from Owen Juarez at Paper Crane in Long Beach!

(Owen Juarez)

But at Paper Crane, we understand that sometimes the urge for a new tattoo can’t be denied. The good news: We’re currently in the perfect season for impulsive ink. Read on to find out why winter is the best time to get a tattoo!

No Beach Days = the Best Time to Get a Tattoo

You might visit the beach even on a cloudy day in December, but we’re guessing that you’ve got on a lot more clothing than if you were planning a summer swim. This means you’ve got less chance of getting a sunburn on a new tattoo. During the aftercare window, it’s especially important to protect healing skin from the sun’s rays, as a bad sunburn can lead to peeling. This in turn can cause ink to fall out, leaving you with a tattoo that is faded or patchy.

Unless you’re into polar bearing, we’re also guessing you won’t be diving into the ocean during the colder months. Oceans, lakes, and other waterways can be home to all kinds of bacteria and pollution, so it’s imperative that you don’t take a dip during the ten-day aftercare period.

No Pool Parties

The ocean isn’t the only water you need to avoid while your tattoo is healing! Pools are also out, which makes winter the best time to get a tattoo if you spend most of the summer in a unicorn floaty. Harsh chlorine can damage a tattoo that hasn’t fully healed yet, as can the bacteria potentially present in a pool.

Please note that you also need to avoid the spa. Although it’s a great way to warm up this winter, it’s not such a hot idea if your tattoo is still fresh.

Less Exposure = the Best Time to Get a Tattoo

We’ve already visited the potential dangers of getting a sunburn on your new tattoo–but did you know that your clothes protect you from more than just the sun? If you’re bundling up in the winter, you’re giving your healing tattoo extra protection with every layer you add. This includes exposure to sunlight as well as germs, dirt, physical contact with other people, and the general grime we encounter on a daily basis.

That said, clothing can’t protect you from everything. You still need to steer clear of working out at the gym, digging in the garden, and other activities that would put your tattoo at risk of infection. You can read more about what to avoid on our aftercare guidelines.

Less Crowds

Winter typically is the slowest season for tattoo studios. People are busy with holiday plans–and they’re spending their extra cash on presents, outings, etc.

While we don’t encourage you to get a tattoo if you’re broke from holiday spending or right before you travel, we do suggest coming to see us now if you’ve been thinking of getting tattooed. Our artists typically have shorter wait times than usual–and some even have immediate availability to tattoo you.

Once the holiday rush has full ended, we tend to get busier and busier until summer comes to an end, at which point the crowds thin out to a degree. So if you’re thinking of coming to see us and don’t want to be on a long waiting list, winter is the best time to get a tattoo.

The Best Time to Get a Tattoo You Can Show Off This Summer

Especially if you’re planning on a large project like a sleeve, you want to ensure that your new art has plenty of time to heal before you expose it to the elements. If you get started in the winter, you will have a chance to complete multiple sessions (if necessary) well before summer dawns.

Aftercare aside, getting tattooed in the winter means your tattoo will have plenty of time to settle. This is true even for small pieces: After the initial healing phase, a tattoo can take several weeks to a few months to actually look the way it is supposed to. Reds that look milky or sections that seem darker than intended often even out after a period of time (during which we encourage proper moisturization and suncare). If you get tattooed in the next month or two, your piece will look beautiful by the time you’re ready to hit the beach.



How Much for a Small Tattoo?

We love getting inquiries about new tattoos! Sometimes we get extremely detailed emails, where people know exactly what they want and who they want to work with; other times, a person isn’t sure about the process and needs some direction. We’re happy to guide you no matter where you’re at with your tattoo journey, but for the beginner looking for a starting point we’ve put together some information on one of our most frequently received questions: How much for a small tattoo?

Colorful compass tattoo by Sof PMA at Paper Crane Studio (Sof PMA)

Define a Small Tattoo

Size matters in tattooing. When you ask how much for a small tattoo, every individual at the shop has a different definition of what that means. For some, it’s a tiny squiggle on the top of your finger. For others, it’s a palm-sized piece. One customer might consider a certain piece in their collection a small tattoo while another person might think of the exact same tattoo as huge.

Because size is relative, we can’t readily answer how much a small tattoo will cost. The same goes if you ask us about a medium or large tattoo, since we all have different ideas on those terms.
What we suggest instead is providing a rough estimate of the size. That can be in inches (for example, a 3″ x 5″ tattoo) or in comparison to a common object (for example, the size of an iPhone). This will help us to understand your expectations so we can advise you on what’s doable at that size and what the cost will be.

Spill the Details

In addition to the size you’re thinking of for your small tattoo, the level of detail is a critical factor when we are providing an estimate. If you’re thinking of getting your favorite animal tattooed on you at around 5″ x 5″, that’s a sizable enough space that an artist can work in a significant amount of detail–if that’s what you’re interested in. But perhaps you’re just interested in a basic outline of a bear, which would take much less time than (for example) an illustrative bear. Or maybe you want a geometric tattoo that just happens to be in the shape of a tiger’s head–again, that would be a different tattoo in terms of design, execution, and cost than an Irezumi or American Traditional tiger.

Scorpion flash tattoo by Mikey Vigilante at Paper Crane Studio
Detail and size go hand-in-hand for more reasons than cost: With a small tattoo, some details just aren’t possible to capture in a way that reads well and will age well. We often get requests for flash tattoos to be done at 2″ or 3″, but our artists typically ask clients to consider sizing up to do the design justice as-is. An alternative to sizing up is to simplify, whether it’s for a flash tattoo or a custom piece.

Choose Your Artist for a Small Tattoo

The style of your small tattoo will potentially impact which artist you end up working with, as everyone specializes in different types of tattooing. Blackwork, American Traditional, illustrative, Irezumi, realism–each aesthetic is unique. Many of our artists are versatile and can tackle a number of styles, while others tend to work in only one or two styles.
Size and location can also be a factor when choosing an artist. Some artists are more comfortable than others with truly tiny tattoos. The same is true of placements like fingers or the inner lip, both of which we often get asked about for a small tattoo.
We are always happy to suggest an artist who will be a solid fit for your small tattoo, or you can let us know who you’d like to work with. The choice will be another factor in your estimate, as each artist sets their own hourly rate. These typically vary between $160 and $225 but are subject to change.
Please note out studio minimum is $100 even for the smallest of tattoos. (Again, that’s our studio minimum: An individual artist may have a higher minimum based on their hourly rate.) This covers our materials as well as the time needed for setup, breakdown, and of course tattooing.

Snake and mistletoe tattoo by Joy Shannon in blackwork style(Joy Shannon)

We often get asked if we can do less for a small tattoo, but our rates are not negotiable. The truth is there’s no such thing as a simple tattoo. Small linework tattoos have no margin for error, which means you need an experienced artist with a steady hand. If you want to end up with a tattoo you love, our studio is an excellent choice.

Come See Us

If you provide us with detailed information on size, location, and style and include a picture of where you’d like to get tattooed, we may be able to provide an estimate in person for your small tattoo. But to get the most accurate and expedient answer, we strongly suggest that you come see us at the studio for an in-person consultation.
Why an in-person consultation? This allows us to discuss your ideas one-on-one and work with you on any changes that will improve the final look of your small tattoo. It also allows us to check out the location you’re thinking and cover any concerns on placement such as pain level, distortion, etc. An artist will also have a chance to look at your skin, which can impact the tattooing process.
Some artists see consultations by appointment only while others accept walk-ins if time allows, so send us a message to get started.

Save Your Pennies

The reasons for wanting a small tattoo vary dramatically and are totally personal. While we might recommend sizing up in some cases so as to not lose any detail, we otherwise respect the decision to go small.
While we’ve got you on the blog, though, we’ll ask you this: Are you getting a small tattoo due to a limited budget? We understand that and can absolutely work with your budget–but if you actually want a larger piece, we don’t want you to be unhappy with your small tattoo down the road.
Our artists are happy to do multiple sessions on a tattoo to make it more affordable. This is a very common approach, and some tattoos actually necessitate multiple sessions even if budget isn’t a concern. Just let us know what you’re comfortable spending in total and on each session so that we can come up with a plan that works for you.

Blackwork tattoo by Jackie Siu of Paper Crane Studio

(Jackie Siu)

Whether it’s your first tattoo or you’re new to our studio, whether you want a small tattoo or to start a sleeve, reach out today to get started. We’ll see you soon!