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How to Get a Tattoo You’ll Love

Whether it’s your first piece or you have too many to count, deciding to get a tattoo is always exciting. While it’s possible to get a tattoo on a whim or to snag a flash design at an event, typically there’s a certain amount of time and effort that goes into the process. Today we’re suggesting a few easy steps to help you get a tattoo you’ll love for a lifetime.

Blackwork cat tattoo by Jesse Iris at Paper Crane in Long Beach, CA

Step 1: Sort Your Ideas Out

Sometimes you just know what tattoo you want to get done. Other times, it’s a dilemma to decide which idea you like best of the hundreds flitting through your mind. We’ve been both places, so we get it!
Although we are always happy to help you figure out which piece go with, we strongly suggest sorting your ideas out before you head to the studio get a tattoo. Why?
  • Different artists have different specialties. Do you love the illustrative style of a particular artist? It may be that they tattoo in that style exclusively, so asking them to do an American Traditional piece might result in a no. (At Paper Crane, we will definitely refer you to another artist if this happens, so no sweat!). But if you know you want an illustrative piece for sure, then you know in advance that the artist you’re looking at will be a great fit.
  • Sometimes specialization is a matter of preference: An artist might only want to tattoo certain styles that they really love–or conversely, they might not want to do certain kinds of tattoos in particular, even if they are capable. You’ll sometimes encounter experienced artists who don’t like to do finger tattoos, for example, or ones who don’t do script, geometric tattoos, watercolor, etc.
  • Other times, specialization is more about skill level: A tattoo artist still working on their apprenticeship might do fantastic linework but not be ready for realism, for example.
  • Location matters. As mentioned above, not every artist does finger tattoos. The same is true for other body parts, whether it’s because an artist is new in their career or they just aren’t comfortable with certain locations. Examples include necks, hands, and genitals, so if you’re thinking of these as options it’s good to narrow that down before getting your heart set on a design.
  • Location impacts the design as well. As an example, hand tattoos tend not to age as well as other tattoos, for a number of reasons. If you’re wanting to get a tattoo on your hand, the design you have in mind might need to be altered to make that work.
  • Budget, budget, budget. Authentic art is expensive. If you’re deciding between several designs and on a budget, it’s a good idea to think about what you’re willing to spend. Maybe your budget means going with a smaller, simpler design, or maybe you’re willing to do multiple sessions to make a certain tattoo affordable. A consultation with an artist is a great place to discuss these concerns in detail, but knowing what you can realistically spend is a good starting point.

Step 2: Research Artists–AND Studios! 

Social media is a powerful tool for checking out tattoo work from artists all over the world. Often our clients discover an artist they love via Instagram and come to the shop specifically for that person. Other times, Instagram serves as the source of inspiration for the piece they want. (We will never copy another tattoo, but we can work off of ideas you find online!)
Instagram can also allow you to get a feel for the work an artist is turning out on a regular basis. If the quality and style line up with your goals consistently, this is a good indication that they might be who you should get a tattoo from.
Be sure to look for healed tattoos from artists when possible: Although aftercare and daily maintenance are in the hands of the client, a solid tattoo artist will turn out pieces that look amazing long after they’ve healed.
Researching an artist can help you also help you see that they are legitimate professionals. Industry regulations can vary by state, but it’s in your best interest to verify that an artist has had the proper safety training in addition to their artistic training. The same goes for studios, which should be in compliance with local safety standards.
Your tattooing experience should be incredible from start to finish, which is why we suggest reading reviews on studios as well as artists. A clean, friendly studio with welcoming artists and great customer service can make a huge difference in how you feel about your tattoo at the end of the day. (If you’re thinking about coming to Paper Crane, we invite you to browse our Yelp reviews!)

Step 3: Be Open Minded

Depending on the tattoo and the artist, you’ll typically have a consultation before you actually get a tattoo. Although we understand wanting to get a piece done exactly in the way you’re envisioning, we encourage clients to be open minded for a number of reasons.
An artist can often see things that a client can’t, whether it’s to do with the location or the design. Some concepts won’t “read” well as tattoos, for example–but your artist will typically be able to make suggestions that will turn your idea into a beautiful tattoo. This might mean changing the level of detail, increasing the size, trying the idea in a different style, etc.
Similarly, an artist might suggest moving a tattoo to a different location or altering the design if it doesn’t fit a person’s unique physique. We carefully consider each client individually and design tattoos to be a tailored fit, which means that a sleeve on a person with a narrow arm would look very different on a person with a fuller canvas. If you have a particularly thin forearm, we might suggest your upper arm or leg for the tattoo, or alternatively we could simplify the design so it isn’t crowded.
Our suggestions are always designed to ensure you get a tattoo you will truly love–and typically we are speaking from years of tattooing experience. We appreciate the trust our clients have in us and bring the full force of our talent and skill to each tattoo.
As noted previously, we will not copy another artist’s tattoo, and usually we will only tattoo an existing art piece with the permission of the original creator. But if a client can be open to creative input, we can design an original piece we know you’ll be happy with for years to come.

Step 4: Get a Tattoo!

Once you’ve met with an artist, put down a deposit, and saved up for your piece, it’s time to get a tattoo! We suggest arriving early to your appointment, reviewing aftercare guidelines in advance, and planning for food and water if you’ll be at the studio for a while. (Definitely eat beforehand if you’re just dropping by for a quick session!)
If you’re planning to get a tattoo at Paper Crane, we are always available to go over any questions or concerns. We will look forward to seeing you soon in Long Beach!

Best of Instagram: Vol. 4

Spring is on the horizon, and we are feeling it here in Long Beach. For this month’s Best of Instagram, we are featuring a few of our favorite floral designs.

Painterly rose from Suzanne Shifflett at Paper Crane

Suzanne Shifflett created this painterly rose. The placement elegantly fits the client’s forearm, while the colors make it look real enough to pluck. Suzanne does beautiful fine art tattoos, from pet portraits to elaborate floral pieces.

Vintage mushroom pinup tattoo from Lindsey Morehead at Paper Crane in Long Beach

Lindsey Morehead has a unique take on American Traditional. She has been working on some incredible lady tattoos, with a whimsically vintage vibe that we can’t get enough of. You can see her flash designs on our Instagram if you’d like to snag one for yourself!

Floral jelly

Jade Quail proves time and again that blackwork floral tattoos can be just as striking as color! This jellyfish is one of her most magical creations, with a lovely sense of movement to the design.

Black and grey floral tattoo from Sof Powdermink of Paper Crane Studio

We’re wrapping up this month’s featured florals with a black-and-grey piece by Sof Powdermink, the newest addition to our studio. You can catch Sof in Long Beach on Thursdays and Fridays, so stop by if you are in the area to get a tattoo!

Whether you’re interested in a floral tattoo of your own, a flash design, or a custom piece, come see our artists to get started on your next tattoo.

 

Blackwork Tattoos: A Timeless Trend

Blackwork tattoos have skyrocketed in popularity. Whether it’s a basic outline of a circle, an intricate ornamental piece, or an entire landscape, blackwork tattoos can be stunning statement pieces. This trending style is often misunderstood, so we’re breaking down the basics for you on today’s blog.

Blackwork mandala by Jade Quail of Paper Crane Studio

(Jade Quail)

Complex Simplicity

We often get requests for “simple” blackwork tattoos. Although at first glance you might think of blackwork as a straightforward style, it’s actually very complex. The reliance on linework requires an especially steady and skilled hand: With a lack of traditional shading, there is little to no room for error. Whether an artist is fine-lining flowers or creating geometric patterns, clean lines are an absolute must for blackwork tattoos.

(Lindsey Morehead)

Additionally, composition is a major factor to consider with blackwork tattoos–one that is rarely simple. Minimalist pieces and detailed blackwork tattoos alike require just the right balance to achieve depth and readability. While composition is also important to black-and-grey and full color tattoos, artists have other techniques like shading and saturation at their disposal with these styles. Because blackwork tattoos use only black ink, artists must carefully consider composition to create the desired final look.

Perfect for Patterns

Mandala tattoos and sacred geometry are particularly popular when it comes to blackwork tattoos–with good reason. Blackwork is a perfect style for many pattern-type tattoos, including mandala, geometric, and knotwork pieces. Patterns put clean linework on display, which can be stunning in intricate designs like Celtic knots.

Blackwork tattoos are great for patterns like this one by Joy Shannon.

(Joy Shannon)

Patterns can also be a complementary aspect of a larger blackwork piece. Mandalas can be paired beautifully with blackwork floral or incorporated into ornamental designs, for example. Additionally, a blackwork pattern can provide a striking contrast of mixed aesthetic tattoo.

Dotwork Depth

Looking for something with the depth that you see in black-and-grey work? Don’t count blackwork tattoos out! Although blackwork doesn’t use traditional shading, artists can achieve depth through dotwork.

Dotwork is exactly what it sounds like: An artist tattoos dots to achieve depth and texture in a blackwork piece. This can lend fullness to an object, provide the “feel” of a surface, or simply give extra detail. Artists use a variety of dot sizes and patterns to create different effects, sometimes tattooing hundreds or even thousands of dots.

Blackwork tattoos can be striking whether they're patterns or figures like this reaper by Jesse Iris

(Jesse Iris)

Dotwork is extremely effective, to the point that people often mistake blackwork tattoos for black-and-grey.

Trendy Meets Timeless

Some tattoo trends are short-lived (even if the tattoo itself is permanent). But blackwork tattoos are not new to the tattoo scene: They originated at the dawn of tattooing and can be traced back to Polynesian tribal tattoos, where they were traditionally used to show a person’s lineage, social standings, and beliefs. They may be experiencing a surge in popularity and an aesthetic metamorphosis, but blackwork tattoos are definitely not going away.

(Tan Vo)

We love seeing how our artists are both pushing this style in new directions and honoring ancient traditions. At the end of the day, this is a timeless trend that we are on board with.

A Personal Choice

So should you get a blackwork tattoo? Ultimately, it comes down to your person preference. Just consider these two Ganesha tattoos, one in blackwork by Jade Quail and one in full color by Mikey Vigilante:

Both tattoos are gorgeous and one-of-a-kind–and both are extremely different. We suggest exploring blackwork to see if it fits your aesthetic, whether it’s for a small piece or something major. As always, we are here to answer any questions you might have or to help you get scheduled with an artist who specializes in this eye-catching style.

Best of Instagram: Vol. 3

2019 is off to a fabulous start at Paper Crane! We have been tattooing some beautiful pieces in a wide array of styles–and we’ve curated a collection of our favorites to share with you from our social media.

Best of Instagram lion from Tan Vo--fierce!

Tan Vo is a highly versatile artist who trained under Mikey Vigilante. He created this stunning lion in a mixed style that incorporates mandala work with a painterly approach. Talk about fierce!

Ganesha back tattoo by Mikey Vigilante, an Instagram favorite.

Speaking of shop founder Mikey Vigilante, we are crazy about this back piece he is continuing to make progress on. The bright colors and intricate details make this a particularly stunning tattoo.

Hand puppet shadow from Jesse Iris.

We’re throwing it back to December for this hand-puppet shadow from Jesse Iris. Jesse often has original flash designs available on our social media, so keep an eye out to find your next tattoo.

Dog portrait by Suzanne Shifflett, seen on our social media!

It’s always an honor to memorialize someone’s beloved pet. This soulful dog portrait is by Suzanne Shifflett–and she’d love to tattoo more animals, so message us today to get scheduled with her!

Snake and floral tattoo by Justin Tauch.

We’ll wrap up this animal-themed installment with a lovely serpent from Justin Tauch. His illustrative style is always striking, whether he’s working with traditional elements or bringing something one-of-a-kind to life.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at our social media favorites! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more work from our incredible team of tattooists.

2018 in Long Beach: One for the Books!

2018 in Long Beach has brought tremendous growth for Paper Crane Studio. As the final days of the year go by, we want to take a moment to reflect on this most recent circuit around the sun. We’ve had a lot of fun, made beautiful tattoos, formed authentic connections with wonderful people–and we’ve also said goodbye to some of our favorite artists. Through it all, we are grateful to be part of your journey and to have you be part of ours.

2018 in Long Beach brought Paper Crane Studio amazing growth!

Hello to New Faces

As a studio, we pride ourselves on creating incredible tattoos while providing superior customer service. 2018 in Long Beach brought many new resident tattoo artists to our studio–and we are pleased to say that each new member of our family is dedicated to both our craft and our clients. Our new artists include Lindsey Morehead, who draws inspiration for her whimsical art from American Traditional tattoos and vintage style; Owen Juarez, who is a master of Irezumi tattoos and loves large-scale projects; and Suzanne Shifflett, whose talents include animal portraits and fine-art floral tattoos.

We also had the honor of seeing Mikey Vigilante’s apprentice Jackie Siu take flight as a fully fledged artist at our studio. With themes ranging from Red Dead Redemption 2 to kawaii designs and tarot cards, Jackie has spent 2018 in Long Beach honing her tattooing skills and personal style.

Goodbye to Good Friends

With another chapter closing, we want to be sure to acknowledge the artists who left us this year and thank them for their special contributions to Paper Crane. Chelsea Jane, Adrian Franco, Jason Paul, and Grace Chun set off for new journeys in 2018, but they remain part of our studio family. (You’ll still find Jason on our website, as his travels periodically bring him back to LBC!)

Guest Artists Galore

2018 in Long Beach featured a number of incredible guest artists. David Leon, Zach Black, Anna Pavlovitz, Matt Manning, Sof PMA, Q, and Anna GK (all the way from Australia!) are among the talented individuals we had the opportunity to host. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our guests artists, and we loved seeing our clients leave the studio with their one-of-a-kind pieces.

If you’re a tattoo artist or would like to see someone in particular at Paper Crane in 2019, send us a message so we can connect for a guest spot.

Best of Long Beach Awards 2018 Nominee

We were very honored to have been nominated as a studio for a Best of Long Beach Award. We were exceptionally proud that Joy Shannon was nominated as an individual artist, as she embodies Paper Crane’s commitment to artistry and authenticity. These nominations were because of clients like you, so thank you for your faith in us.

Tattoo Flash from 2018 in Long Beach

Our flash game was stronger than ever this year! From Star Wars designs on May the 4th to adorable Christmas tattoos, our artists had a blast creating unique flash sheets for our wonderful clients. Some of our flash was specifically offered during events like Friday the 13th or Black Friday, while other sheets were offered on a seasonal basis.

2018 in Long Beach saw lots of tattoo flash at Paper Crane!

If you’re ever in the market for a tattoo but don’t know what you want, we often have flash sheets you can check out. Some are unique in that an artist will only do a certain design once or for a limited time, while others are available year round!

Tattooing at Large

Although Paper Crane is home, we are always excited for opportunities to travel. Destinations this year included Chicago, the Pacific Northwest, Ireland, England, and Denmark, where our artists shared their talents with friends new and old.

We love tattooing around Southern California as well. Mikey Vigilante got to be part of a live tattooing demonstration at Catalyst in Westminster, where many of our artists had tattoo flash on display.

In January, Tan Vo and Justin Tauch will be at the Golden State Tattoo Expo in Pasadena. We will keep you posted about other upcoming travel plans and conventions!

Paper Crane Pride

In 2018, we added new merchandise to the shop! Our tees and hoodies are all of the highest quality, featuring work by our very own artists. Stop by the shop to show your Paper Crane pride in the new year!

Here’s to 2019

As we say goodbye to 2018 in Long Beach, we want to say thank you to you personally for giving us the opportunity to create tattoo art and to be part of your story. We look forward to sharing another great year with you in 2019.

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.

Skincare can make a huge difference in how your tattoos look.

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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.
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!
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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!
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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.
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.
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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.
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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!

Best of Instagram: Halloween Edition

Happy Halloween from Paper Crane! For this month’s “Best of Instagram” feature, we are pleased to present you with some of our most spooktacular tattoos from October. But be warned: These pieces are so good it’s scary!

Jade Quail is the mastermind behind this dapper pair of skeletons. We love the details that give you a real sense of these ghouls’ personalities!

Halloween flash sheet by Jackie Siu

Shop apprentice Jackie Siu designed this Halloween flash sheet, which featured special tattoos that were only available through October 31st. If you got one of these, send us a picture so we can share!

Raven by Joy Shannon, just time for Halloween!

Joy Shannon does beautiful tattoos that often draw from mythology. This raven is inspired by the Morrigan, the “phantom queen” of Irish lore. What better animal for Halloween than one associated with a goddess of destiny and death!

Creature from the Black Lagoon tattoo design from Suzanne Shifflett for Halloween

With her fine art background, Suzanne Shifflett elevates movie monsters to new heights. She did an entire sheet of some of cinema’s most classic creatures for Halloween, so pop over to our Instagram to check them out!

Halloween gal by Lindsey Morehead

We can’t let Halloween go by without mentioning Lindsey Morehead. Lindsey did so many adorable tattoos that celebrate the holiday season this year, many of which were limited edition. This might be our favorite of hers yet!

We hope you’ve had a fantastic Halloween with family, friends, and fun! We have gotten to do so many spooky tattoos this year, both from our flash sheets and from ideas our amazing clients brought in, so thank you for making it a frightfully fun month.

If you want to get a Halloween tattoo even though the holiday is over, you can get scheduled with any of our talented artists by visiting our scheduling page. Please note that some tattoo designs were offered on a limited basis–but we would love to create something unique just for you!

Would you like to be featured on our social media? Just email us at info@papercranetattoo.com with well lit photos and any details about your experience so we can share your art!

The Long Beach Tattoo Scene: A Brief History

Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, our muti-faceted city holds something for everyone–food, music, art, and of course tattoos. Founded in 2012 in the East Village Arts Distract, Paper Crane is proud to be part of the Long Beach tattoo scene. Tattooing is in fact an integral part of our colorful community, one with a history that reaches back into the early 1900s. To get the full picture, though, we need to step even further back into our city’s storied past. Come with us on a little history lesson–and learn why the Long Beach tattoo scene has always been destined to thrive!

 

Long Beach’s Founding

Long Beach was first settled in 1784 as part of a Spanish land grant to Manuel Nieto. In 1866, a 27,000 acre section known as Rancho Los Cerritos was sold to the Bixby family, who began to develop the area. With a seven-mile stretch of pristine beachfront, it’s no surprise that visitors flocked to Long Beach, which was originally known as Willmore City. The introduction of the Pacific Electric trolley in 1902 led to a massive boom for the area: For the next eight years, Long Beach was the fastest growing city in the US. The resort atmosphere and bustling commercial industry made Long Beach a popular destination at the turn of the century–for families and more.

A Family Destination–and a Sailor’s Refuge

In 1902, the historical boardwalk known as the Pike came into existence, which over the years came to boast everything from kiddie rides and sideshows to photography studios and cabarets. In 1911, the Port of Long Beach was established in close proximity to the Pike. Families, sailors, and sea merchants alike could turn to the twinkling lights and boundless entertainment of the Pike for an escape unlike any other.

Because of the easy access to shipyards, the Pike became home to the original Long Beach tattoo scene. Numerous shops sprang to life to accommodate sailors on leave. American Traditional tattoos–also known as “Sailor Jerry” style–flourished, and many sailors and merchants left Long Beach sporting nautical-themed tattoos. Many legendary artists tattooed out of the Pike over the course of its ever-evolving history, including Lyle Tuttle, Bob Shaw, and Bert Grimm (one of the fathers of American Traditional style). Grimm’s World Famous Tattoo Studio (now known as Outer Limits Tattoo) holds the distinction of being the sole business still in operation from the Pike.

Destined to Thrive

With a steady influx of tourists, seamen, and investors, Long Beach was destined from its inception to thrive as a city–and with it, so was the Long Beach tattoo industry. The fact that a tattoo studio that opened in 1954 is still in business today goes to show that tattooing has long been an important part of our city!

We’ve continued to grow tremendously as a premier destination for arts and culture over the years. The Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Long Beach Museum of Art, Museum of Latin American Art, and Cal State Long Beach are a just few of our outstanding locales for everything from classical opera to avant-garde visual art. A casual trip downtown can lead to dynamic discoveries of local musicians, culinary masters, and more.

This continued growth is important to the tattooing scene because it helps to make Long Beach a destination city. We love our local clients, but “tattoo tourism” is a very real phenomenon: Tattoo collectors and enthusiasts are willing to fly all over the world to connect with talented artists. At Paper Crane, we are very fortunate to have people travel from other countries specifically to see our artists–but the fact that there are beautiful beaches, fantastic bands, unique galleries, and incredible food definitely sweetens the prospect of a six-hour plane ride!

Thanks to our city being such a multicultural epicenter, we also get to tattoo a lot of tourists who are visiting for other reasons–so if you’re just stopping by but decide you want to take home a piece of the Long Beach tattoo scene, give us a call!

Long Beach Tattoo Artists

Long Beach’s expanding focus on art and culture is uniquely important for tattoo artists as creative individuals, as it presents us with out-of-the-box opportunities to showcase our work, connect with others in our community, and push our creative limits. Whether that means a live tattooing demonstration or an art exhibit featuring tattoo flash, we’re excited to be part of the Long Beach tattoo scene in ways that incorporate other aspects of our city.

The East Village Arts District is one of the pockets of Long Beach where you can find a variety of cultural interests, from unique restaurants to galleries featuring local artists. It’s also home to Paper Crane Studio, the first tattoo shop to open in the downtown area since the decline of the Pike. We’ve been an influential part of the Long Beach tattoo scene since Mikey Vigilante founded the studio in 2012–and we are committed to being part of our city’s legacy of outstanding tattoo art for many years to come.

Whether you’re a long-time local or a tattoo tourist, we invite you to stop by our studio the next time you’re in the East Village Arts District to meet our artists, browse our portfolios, and get a feel for our friendly vibe. We’d love to help you be part of the Long Beach tattoo story by getting a flash tattoo or a custom original!

Best of Instagram: Vol. 1

For our first installment of the “Best of Instagram” feature, we’re excited to share some of our favorite picks from the last month! We are fortunate to work with incredible clients on one-of-a-kind designs on a daily basis, so be sure to check out all of our artists to see what new tattoos we’ve been creating lately in Long Beach.

We may just be over our fear of clowns thanks to Lindsey Morehead. We love her vintage take on traditional style. Lindsey would love to tattoo more clowns or any of the pieces from her limited-edition Halloween flash!

Owen Juarez specializes in Irezumi designs. In Japanese culture, snakes represent protection, wisdom, luck, and strength. We love seeing a drawing come to life!

The colorful piece below is a multi-session project by founding artist Mikey Vigilante. Mikey paired American Traditional roses with unexpected octopus tentacles for a tattoo that is truly unique!

Some projects require more than one session–which can benefit both you and your artist, as it gives your skin time to heal and allows your artist to tackle your piece in different stages. If you’re on a budget, spreading your tattoo out across several sessions is an option you can discuss with us.

For our final pick of this month’s “Best of Instagram,” we present you with another take on octopus tattoos. This delectable design by Justin Tauch is what we call brain food! Be sure to follow us on Instagram for a look at the final product.

What recent tattoos on our social media have been your favorite? Let us know–or send us shots of your ink so we can share next time! You can email us at info@papercranetattoo.com with well lit photos and any details about your experience. We look forward to hearing from you!

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!