Love Delicate Tattoos? These LA-Based Artists Are Doing Some Of The Best Around
Today’s delicate tattoo trend — a teeny ramen noodle bowl here, a super-minimal ocean wave there — is something that appeals to even the otherwise tat-phobic. That’s probably because in addition to the fact that they feel innately dainty (though not necessarily masculine or feminine per se) and therefore the antithesis of traditional tattoos, they allow for a certain kind of private personalization. Think of them as permanent jewelry, or a way for you to hold close to you a collection of things that carry meaning to you — and because of their inherent style, they can be as tucked away (or as exposed) as you like.
Since tattoos are so personal by nature, there will always be a demand for artists working in every style. But if it’s those delicate designs you’re after, you’ll want to take note of a few specific masters of the craft working in Los Angeles right now, from the highly in-demand celebrity favorites to the up-and-comers. Ahead find four to follow now, either for just a little inspiration and eye candy, or serious consideration for your next body art.
It would be impossible to write about delicate tattoo artists in Los Angeles without bringing up Winter Stone. With a celebrity clientele that includes Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga (he’s responsible for her stunning back piece that’s a tribute to her A Star Is Born character), the Instagram favorite stays busy at his appointment-only studio near Beverly Hills (as well as at occasional pop-ups in other cities) adorning clients with his recognizable brand of “tattoo jewelry.”
Name: Daniel Winter
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Where you typically work from: [his private studio]
Your tattoo style in three words: Delicate, sharp, and simple.
Weirdest request for a tattoo: I don’t receive many weird tattoo requests as many of my clients come in to commemorate big moments in their lives to receiving little personal reminders they can cherish forever.
Favorite piece you've ever done: It would have to be Lady Gaga’s “La Vie En Rose” back tattoo we collaborated together on.
If you weren't tattooing what else would you be doing? I would have loved to be a professional athlete of some sort.
Best advice for anyone getting their first tat: You really need to think it through and make sure it’s something you can live with for the rest of your life.
What artists — tattoo or otherwise — do you most look up to? My top fine artists that I most look up to would have to be Picasso, Dali, and Matisse.
What about living and working in LA influences you most? Being born and raised in LA is a blessing — I was able to see so much art and be around many influential people my whole life. Seeing these people live their dreams really inspired me to follow my heart as an artist!
Where do you see the tattoo industry going or where do you want it to go? I see the future of tattooing going in the direction of modern — newer high machines and technologies that allow artists to go beyond their limits.
Alongside fellow delicate tat craftswomen Diana Bustamante and Leah Samuels, Canadian-born Kim is a co-owner of Baby, a private studio in LA where her fans trust her to decorate their skin with minimalist flower renderings, ornate vases and fans with hidden faces, and more than a few pet interpretations to name just a few favorite subjects.
Name: Liz Kim
Hometown: Edmonton, Canada
Where you typically work from: Baby
Your tattoo style in three words: Fine line maximalism/minimalism
Weirdest request for a tattoo: For me, it would be something that doesn't align with the kind of work that I do. Like if you asked me to do an American traditional tattoo, I'd be a little weirded out.
Favorite piece you've ever done: I have so many! I think if it's anything I can hide little faces into, I love. Or when I get to make interpretations of people's pets or hometowns.
If you weren't tattooing what else would you be doing? Cooking!
Best advice for anyone getting their first tat: Talk to your tattooed friends and see where they go to get tattooed. Go to an artist you can trust. Come fed, hydrated, in comfortable clothing, and relax!
What about living and working in LA influences you most? Almost everything has changed since moving to LA. There's such a great energy to the city, it's hard not to be motivated. Creative people here just do their thing, like they can't help but do it.
Where do you see the tattoo industry going or where do you want it to go? I just see it exploding, and it's really cool to have so many new artists emerging and doing their own thing. What I really hope is for more safe spaces for tattooing pop up in the future. I want safe, comfortable, non-judgmental spaces to be everywhere, and accessible to people who need it. It is so important that clients feel comfortable and cared for when they are in such vulnerable positions, and I want to see more tattooers be more accountable for that.
As a queer and Latinx artist, as well as a California native, Siobhan’s background is evident in his body of work. For example, some past pieces include a minimal sunset scape and Spanish phrases like “Sucia” and “Mis Sentimientos.” But because he’s also a former UCLA painting student, you can also expect a nod to art history, like a reclining nude figure or a classical Greek bust.
Hometown: San Bernardino, California
Your tattoo style in three words: Minimal, elegant, unique.
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A flash design from queer tattoo artist Phil Sparrow from the 50’s on @andycampy 🌈 Thank you again for trusting me with this amazing design and for gifting me your new book! . . . #tattoo #finelinetattoo #singleneedle #blackwork #blacktattoo #pics_of_inked_ #tattooselection #wmoct #qttr #queerartists #tattooideas #minimaltattoo #losangelestattoo #queerdesign
Weirdest request for a tattoo: I haven’t had anything that has shocked me yet but I’m excited to get one.
Favorite piece you've ever done: I tattooed one of my blue boy sketches on the studio manager at Earth Altar, Matt, and I really love that piece.
If you weren't tattooing what else would you be doing? If I wasn’t tattooing I would definitely be painting. I studied in UCLA’s art department and focused on painting. It was my first love and it’s something I’m so passionate about.
Best advice for anyone getting their first tat? The best advice I can give someone would be don’t get your ideas from other people’s tattoos! Images online are a great resource for inspiration, but try and have the inspiration be true and meaningful to you. Also, listen to your artist! They will give great recommendations and help your design be unique.
What artists — tattoo or otherwise — do you most look up to? I have a long list of artists that I look up to and they range from painters, photographers, performance artists, etc. A short list would be: Felix Gonzales Torres, Frida Kahlo, Robert Mapplethorpe, George Platt Lynes, Jenny Holzer, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles. These artists have pushed the boundaries of art in different ways and they have inspired me to establish a deeper meaning in the work that I do.
What about living and working in LA influences you most? I love the diversity found within the city and the great range of accessible art and culture that can be found here. Being queer and Latinx I feel like I have a community here that is supportive and pushes you to reach your potential. The beauty and richness from these queer friends and spaces becomes this source of creativity that is essential.
Where do you see the tattoo industry going or where do you want it to go? I can definitely see the tattoo industry opening up more to different styles of tattoos, much more than it has been. I also think that traditional tattoo spaces are changing in a way that they are becoming something much larger than a tattoo shop itself. For example, not only is Earth Altar Studio a tattoo shop, but it is a welcoming safe space that promotes creativity and community engagement through events and workshops.
From a teeny-tiny bee decorating a collarbone to ultra-fine bands and dots adorning fingers, Grooveline is one to watch for some the most delicate stick-and-pokes you’re likely to find in town. As an LA native, she’s well-versed in the flora and fauna of her hometown, so if you’re seeking palm trees, cacti, and poppies — she’s got you.
Name: Cambria Leach
Hometown: Born in LA, but spent most of my life in a few different towns in the Central Coast.
Where you typically work from: Home.
Your tattoo style in three words: Delicate, simple, stylistic.
Weirdest request for a tattoo: A machine gun tattoo on the side of the client’s face. I just said it wasn’t really my style.
Favorite piece you've ever done: I would have to say a small koi. I had done this client’s first ever tattoo the month before and she was jonesing for a second. When I finished we were both beaming over how it turned out and seeing a client tear up over your art on them is (cheesy as it sounds) the most rewarding feeling!
If you weren't tattooing what else would you be doing? Probably freelance design work and illustrations.
Best advice for anyone getting their first tat: Research your artist! And be willing to wait till you find one that understands your vision and can execute it well.
What artists — tattoo or otherwise — do you most look up to? My two favorite tattoo artists right now are Lara Maju and Jessica Chen. Very different styles, but incredibly distinctive. They inspire me with almost every piece! I hope to get tattooed by both of them someday.
What about living and working in LA influences you most? The challenge. I have to push here, I have to make my own way. This is a competitive city with countless tattoo artists. I think you have to craft something truly distinctive to make it and that drives me.
Where do you see the tattoo industry going or where do you want it to go? I see it being redefined. I see artists creating unique environments and experiences for clients. I see work continuously pushing what people think a tattoo can and should be and I love it! I hope it continues to evolve and that I can be apart of that happening.
*Lead image by @lizlizkimkim