Dancing Needles Tattoo Studio Strives to be Different

By Brandon Hansen / For the Nisqually Valley News
Posted 4/5/22

Dancing Needles Tattoo Studio isn’t your normal tattoo shop, or at least that is what its customers think.

“We have a very open floor plan,” Dancing Needles Tattoo owner Hannah …

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Dancing Needles Tattoo Studio Strives to be Different

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Dancing Needles Tattoo Studio isn’t your normal tattoo shop, or at least that is what its customers think.

“We have a very open floor plan,” Dancing Needles Tattoo owner Hannah Crain said. “We’re located in a wellness center and it just feels different and a lot of people describe it as something they weren’t expecting. It’s very clean, bright and inviting.”

The Yelm-based Dancing Needles Tattoo studio is located in the same building as a business that does facials and massages. Crain said the studio isn’t your typical spot to get ink, nor is she a typical tattoo shop owner.

“My husband and I always wanted to own a business and I couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted to do, but we like tattoos and art so we just decided to open a shop,” Crain said.

Crain’s husband is an active military servicemember. The duo has moved to several places in the United States. Currently, they have another tattoo location in North Carolina that opened in 2017 and they recently opened up the Yelm studio in September of 2021.

“I’ve always loved the idea of tattooing but I didn’t do it before opening up the North Carolina location in Fort Bragg,” Crain said. “We learned a lot along the way.”

Crain noted she has always liked drawing and doodling but she has a business degree and an analytical mind. During the pandemic, she became an apprentice and became a tattoo artist.

While waiting out the pandemic in Washington, Crain’s husband said she should open the Yelm location and they were finally able to get a shop off the ground. Dancing Needles Tattoo Studio has two artists along with Crain. Jessa Madlock has been with the studio since they opened and Crain said she is very talented.

“She has been drawing her whole life and does amazing art,” Crain said.

Cesar Cortez is the studio’s other artist and comes from Columbia. Cortez grew up in an artistic family and also does airbrushing, murals and other types of art.

Dancing Needles Tattoo Studio also has a tattoo apprentice, Shelby, who is going to school to become a graphic designer. The studio also hosts monthly guest artists from across the country.



Crain said she likes doing more fine lines with an American traditional or neo traditional style. She also does a lot of floral pieces. Madlock and Cortez both do realism, which includes a wide variety of tattoos.

“We get a diverse group of people here of different ages and types of clients,” Crain said. “I think they’re all great and we have a much different crowd in our West Coast shop than our East Coast shop.”

Since Yelm is a military town, there are a lot of military customers, but what has surprised Crain the most is the large number of community members who support the business. 

“We have been constantly busy,” Crain said. “For a while there we were working everyday of the week but that’s because we like what we do and working with people.”

Crain markets a lot on Facebook Live and Instagram through the studio’s accounts and makes a point about being upfront with pricing and how long a tattoo will take.

“When people have a large tattoo we have to explain that it’s going to take several sessions and give our rate,” Crain said. “We offer a military discount as well.”

Crain said being a tattoo artist is exciting and a bit nerve wracking at the same time since the work is permanent. She said there is a lot that goes into the craft outside of studio hours.

“You’re always texting or messaging customers talking about a piece they want to be done,” Crain said. “You’re showing them mockups and they’re responding. It’s very rewarding and you meet people all the time.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic had limited community events, Crain said that she does like to host events at her shops. Through those events, she donates her time and gives money to a charity. She hopes to hold events at the studio in the future.

The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Walk-ins are welcomed. The shop is also open by appointment only on Mondays and Tuesdays.

To stay up to date on the Dancing Needles Studio, visit its Facebook page at facebook.com/dancingneedlestatttoo.

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