At Paper Crane, we have the pleasure of creating beautiful custom tattoos seven days a week. Our artists specialize in a wide array of styles, from black-and-grey realism to painterly tattoos in vivid colors. We have a heavy focus on custom tattoos, but we also often have up-for-grabs designs and flash sheets that you can choose from on a whim. There’s one thing we don’t offer, though: Pinterest or Instagram reproductions.
At Paper Crane, we get to create some of the most beautiful tattoos in the industry on a daily basis. That’s why we are featuring work from all of our artists on this special edition of our social media spotlight!
Owen Juarez specializes in Irezumi-style tattoos but also enjoys working with cultural themes from around the world. This particular piece is striking for both its bold color and flattering placement.
We’re still recovering from Game of Thrones. Many of our artists have created beautiful tattoos honoring the series, each in their unique style. We are especially in love with this one by Lindsey Morehead.
Tan Vo does incredible traditional tattoos, whether you are interested in floral work or a mythological creature. This foo dog has our vote for both its fluid composition and pleasing palette.
If you are interested in illustrative work, Justin Tauch does beautiful tattoos in this style. He especially loves nautical and natural themes, but he also enjoys creating tattoos that pay tribute to fan favorites. This Over the Garden Wall sleeve is a great example of his recent work.
Suzanne Shifflett is another artist at our studio with a flair for illustrative tattoos. She enjoys both black-and-grey and full color, with carefully rendered details that speak to her fine-art background. This hummingbird looks ready to take flight!
Tattoo apprentice Jackie Siu makes Paper Crane proud with her beautiful tattoos, from classic designs to thematic originals. We are all about this unique piece she created for a client this month.
Have you checked out Joy Shannon’s ritual tattoo work? This amazing offering provides clients with the opportunity to explore a more spiritual side of tattooing. We can’t wait to see more progress from Joy on this Medusa portrait.
Sof PMA delights us on a regular basis with her whimsical work. We love both her realism and her cartoon creations, but this traditional piece captures everything we love about nautical tattoos.
You can often find available designs on our story from Jesse Iris. These little lovebirds highlight his penchant for both floral designs and animal tattoos.
If anyone knows the way to Neverland, it’s the incredible Jade Quail. Her beautiful tattoos always enchant the imagination–and this Disney piece is no exception!
Rounding out our special installment of the Best of Instagram are these majestic koi from founding artist Mikey Vigilante. Cover-up work can be challenging, but Mikey excels at seamless transformations, as shown by this piece.
Tattoo fading is a serious concern if you’re an ink enthusiast. There’s nothing like showing off a freshly done piece when it’s vibrant and crisp–and there’s nothing as disappointing as seeing that same piece turn dull or blurry.
Although it’s true that all tattoos are subject to aging, we’ve got some inside insight on what you can do to prevent tattoo fading. Grab your sunscreen and read on!
(Sleeve by shop founder Mikey Vigilante)
1. Choose your artist wisely.
The way a tattoo is applied makes a big difference to the final outcome, but did you know it can also impact how well a tattoo wears over time? Needles need to penetrate the dermis to deposit ink properly, which means an artist needs to aim for about 1-2mm into your skin. If a needle goes deeper than that, the tattoo might not settle properly. Similarly, if an artist goes shallow by penetrating only the epidermis, tattoo fading is likely to occur.
We strongly suggest choosing an artist who is experienced or who is being apprenticed by an excellent artist. This will ensure that a tattoo is being properly applied according to tried and true practices.
Additionally, we encourage you to check out an artist’s healed tattoos, either in their portfolio, on their social media, or in pictures clients have tagged them in. If there is a major discrepancy in the way their brand new tattoos look compared to ones that are a few weeks to a few months old, that can be a red flag to consider.
Social media can be deceptive thanks to filters and editing software. We pride ourselves on showing tattoos as they are, without retouching or other tricks–and we try to get healed pictures whenever our clients drop by. What you see is what you get at Paper Crane, so you can trust that your tattoo will be applied correctly.
2. Think about placement.
Tattoo fading is more likely to occur with certain placements–even when the tattoo is applied perfectly by a reputable artist. If you’re thinking about one of the following tattoo placements, we encourage you to be aware that you might need a touch-up sooner than you would with another placement:
- Finger, palm, and hand
- Inner lip
This is not an exhaustive list–and a tattoo in one of these places does not automatically mean you’ll experience an issue, as a lot of tattoo fading has to do with how you care for the piece. But in general, these areas either see a lot of sun or a lot of friction, exfoliate faster than other placements, or simply don’t hold ink well.
We are willing to tattoo you in these areas, but we ask you to consider fading before you move forward. If you understand the risk, we’ll be happy to work with you–or if you’d rather, we can suggest alternative placements that we know you’ll love.
3. Trust your artist.
Every artist has a different approach to tattooing–that’s one of the things that make it such a wonderfully varied art. At a single studio, you can find one artist who swears by “bold will hold” and another who does watercolor scenes all day long.
We believe that application, placement, and daily care are the biggest factors when it comes to tattoo fading, regardless of the style of tattoo you get. We also believe in trusting your artist: If you’ve researched their work and picked them for a reason, then listening to their professional input will lead to an awesome tattoo that you’ll enjoy for years to come. If an artist isn’t comfortable with a style or suggests tweaking an idea so that it will wear better, we encourage you to take their advice as the expert.
A good example of this is a white ink tattoo. White ink tends to be fickle: It can react to sunlight and potentially oxidize as a result. If you’re looking to get something that is only white ink, an artist will advise you about this risk.They might suggest a different color, or they might recommend moving the tattoo to a place that won’t be as likely to experience sun exposure.
If you can’t agree on something during a consultation, we suggest talking to another artist who specializes in the particular effect you’re going for. That goes for placement as well: Not every artist feels comfortable with finger or palm tattoos, for example, but they will typically be happy to refer you to someone else who can make that happen for you.
4. Observe the aftercare period.
We cannot stress the importance of aftercare enough. Your new tattoo is an open wound, one that needs to be protected diligently for ten days while it goes through the initial healing period. You can find our full aftercare guidelines here, or you can email us if you have questions.
If you get a new tattoo sunburned or pick at the scabs while it’s healing, you will very likely experience fading. A touch-up may remedy the problem–but your artist will definitely be able to tell whether or not you followed aftercare guidelines, so be prepared to be honest.
5. Prevent tattoo fading by protecting your skin.
Sun exposure is a lifelong concern for anyone due to skin cancer concerns. If you have tattoos, the sun can also cause major damage in the form of fading–even if you don’t get a sunburn.
Sun damage is cumulative, which means that over time your tattoo can start to fade if you don’t take the proper steps to protect it. We encourage you to put sunscreen on your tattoos daily, even if its chilly out. You can also consider clothing with built-in SPF, which can be worn throughout the day or thrown on after your sunscreen has worn off. If you opt for sunscreen alone, don’t forget to reapply!
6. Too late to stop tattoo fading? Get a touch-up!
If you’ve experienced tattoo fading, we suggest reaching out to your artist to see about getting a touch-up. If you can’t work with your original artist for whatever reason, you can always send us a picture of your current tattoo so we can see if a minor touch-up is a good solution.
In some cases–like a tattoo that has been sun damaged for many years–we might suggest a total rework of a piece to restore vibrancy and clarity. In other cases, a cover-up might be the best way to move forward.
Whether you’re getting ready for a new tattoo or wanting to protect one you’ve already got, we hope that you art stays beautiful for a lifetime!
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.
Step 1: Sort Your Ideas Out
- 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!
Step 3: Be Open Minded
Step 4: Get a Tattoo!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with well lit photos and any details about your experience so we can share your art!
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!