Chicago’s First Semi-Permanent Tattoo Studio Opens In West Loop

A woman receives a temporary ephemeral tattoo at Audible Sound Studio during day one of South by Southwest Friday, March 10, 2023.The tattoo is temporary and made to fade over the course of 15 months. © Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ephemeral Tattoo, 1356 W. Lake St., offers the first made-to-fade tattoo ink that lasts at least a year.

Developed in 2021, Ephemeral’s ink is biodegradable and is broken down by the body over time. The fade time varies depending on where the tattoo is on the body.

The company previously advertised the ink would break down in about a year, but some customers have reported it lasting far longer. Ephemeral now says the ink can last up to three years.

Simpler line work placed above the waist can fade in one to two years, while tattoos that are more complex and placed on the lower body can take up to three years to fade.

But don’t be fooled: A semi-permanent tattoo is placed just like a traditional tattoo, meaning there is still pain associated with the application.

The inside of the studio features 11 jewel-toned tattoo booths made to emulate the light reflections on the Chicago River at night. Guests are welcomed by a comfortable, sleek waiting area and the smell of incense.

The studio has four artists with three to 20 years of experience in tattooing. Customers that book online will choose between a subtle tattoo for $195 and a statement tattoo for $350. Prices are all inclusive and includes tip and a free design consultation.

Tattoos are only done in black for now. The company is working on developing colored ink that can withstand the same amount of time as its black ink.

The Chicago studio is among eight Ephemeral studios nationwide, with other locations in New York, Miami, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The Chicago studio is booking about four appointments a day and is about 97 percent booked through the next two weeks, Smallwood said. Appointments are available through May 29, and you can book on the studio’s website.