Custom Tattoos in the Digital Age

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.

Custom tattoos are our specialty, like this chrysanthemum by Mikey Vigilante

Pinterest-Worthy and Instafamous

In the digital era, we have limitless access to tattoos and tattoo designs. You can hop on Pinterest or Instagram, drop in any search term, and discover a million takes on a single theme. The same is true if you use a search engine like Google. You might even discover pictures of your own tattoo if you look long enough!

On a regular basis, tattoo trends go viral on social media sites. Recently we saw a huge surge in requests for embroidery-style tattoos after they became popular on Instagram, for example. Individual tattoos can also become Instafamous if they are particularly outstanding, whether it’s for their unique composition, lifelike realism, or beautiful execution.

Thematic tattoos are another great example of pieces that become wildly popular on social media. Just think about it: During the Game of Thrones finale, you probably saw a lot of available designs and cool tattoos inspired by this epic show. (If you follow us on Instagram, you definitely saw GoT pieces from our studio!) Custom tattoos inspired by fan favorites–from Harry Potter and Star Wars to the Avengers and Pokemon–often get an incredible amount of shares and likes on platforms like Pinterest.

Authentic Art and Creative Respect

We love that the internet has allowed tattoo collectors and artists to connect with one another. Social media is a great way to discover professional artists and explore creative ideas–but it can also lead to a frustrating lack of proper credit and an abundance of copycatting.

At Paper Crane, we are committed to creating authentic art for our clients–and we are equally committed to showing creative respect to all artists, at our studio and beyond. Whether an artist has gone viral on Instagram or has just shared an available design with their small Facebook following, we respect that their work is the fruit of their time, effort, and talent.

This is true of non-tattoo artwork as well. It might be an uncredited mandala you discovered on Google or a watercolor portrait of a tiger that’s been repinned to numerous boards on Pinterest–whatever the medium or popularity, we applaud the artist for creating something beautiful to share with the world.

Inspiration for Custom Tattoos

We sometimes have customers send us pictures of custom tattoos or other artwork they’ve discovered and ask to get that exact piece tattooed. We never mind that question: If you are new to tattoos or fall hard for a particular design, it’s easy to assume that it’s not a big deal to get yourself a carbon copy. Out of respect for the original artist and for ourselves as creative professionals, though, we will decline to replicate another person’s work.

Rather than seeking a copycat piece, we encourage you to look at existing tattoos and other artwork for inspiration. What about a particular tattoo grabs you? Is it the color scheme? The composition? The details? The overall “feel” of the piece? Sometimes it’s helpful to find several pieces that speak to you in order to understand exactly what it is that you are drawn to.

We always appreciate getting references when working on custom tattoos, so feel free to send us the pieces you love. If your heart is set on getting an exact replica of that Death Eater tattoo you found on Pinterest, we are sorry to say that we can’t accommodate your request–but if you’re open to our creating vision, we would be happy to make you a custom Death Eater tattoo that we know you’ll love.

We’d like to note that we custom design even the most straightforward of pieces. If you bring us a Pinterest tattoo of a crescent moon with a smattering of dotwork stars, we will work with the concept–but we will at the very least redraw it so that it is uniquely yours. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something like a well-known symbol–say a rune of protection from a videogame–we can typically accommodate that request without major retooling.

Permission Granted

At our discretion, we might agree to tattoo a piece designed by another artist on the grounds that you’ve obtained permission from the original artist. Even with permission, we might suggest changes: For example, if you’ve gotten permission to get an artist’s painting tattooed on you, we might need to adjust the design to allow it to “read” more clearly as a tattoo. Not all works of art translate well into tattoos, for reasons that include level of detail, color scheme, and original medium.

An artist might also decline to tattoo a design by another artist despite their blessing, perhaps because they are focusing on custom tattoos they’ve created themselves or simply aren’t comfortable with the style of the piece. We will always let you know our honest thoughts and try to work with you on an alternative solutions.

Creating custom tattoos is a privilege, one that allows us to explore our creative talents while bringing your vision to life. We deeply respect your ideas and can’t wait to work with you to design a one-of-a-kind piece, be it a totally original idea or something inspired by a beloved work of art.

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Pinterest and Instagram have made a huge impact on the tattoo industry. As certain designs or styles become trendy, we see an increase in requests for those particular pieces. When clients are open to