Carlos Torres looks back at the birth of his shop.
When Carlos Torres opened The Raven and The Wolves in 2016, his main goal was to show the world what tattoo artists were capable of doing outside of just tattooing. An accomplished painter, drawer, and sculptor himself, Torres believed that tattooers needed a space to truly showcase their fine art skills beyond what they could do on skin.
“I wanted to create a creative and supportive environment that inspired others to improve on their craft,” Torres recalled. “I believe that there’s no such thing as being perfect or ‘the best,’ and we always have room to improve as artists.”
Five years later, it’s clear that the iconic tattooer’s dream is a reality. With a dozen of the world’s top artists regularly working out of the shop and countless others dropping by for art shows, classes, guest spots, and more, The Raven and The Wolves has become not just one of California’s elite tattoo studios, but also a renowned fine art gallery and educational space for everyone involved.
The shop’s open floor plan encourages collaboration and discussion among the artists, each pushing the others to improve their skills and consider new possibilities. The hand-picked roster of talent teaches the owner just as much as they learn from him. While other shops are focused on churning out as many tattoos as possible, every artist who comes into The Raven and The Wolves knows that quality and artistry are of the utmost importance for a studio of this caliber.
Even the Downtown Long Beach location of The Raven and The Wolves comes with an artistic history of its own. Before housing the studio, the building was home to the iconic music venue, The Blue Cafe, throughout the ‘60s and into the 2000s. As the proud owner of a space in a legendary building within the city he calls home, Torres sees his studio as a way to not only promote the art of Long Beach’s current top artists, but also the next generation and those who may be years away from even beginning their careers in the industry. While the current success of the shop is nice, the lasting impact on young artists is ultimately what Torres wants to see in the long run.
“On a personal level, it feels great to have built a space that inspires people,” Torres said. “As the shop slowly gets more established and new artists come on board, I’m proud to be a part of their growth and development. Teaching and guiding younger artists through the tattoo world and helping to give them a lifelong career is something special for me. Already, I’ve seen a lot of our artists grow both personally and professionally in this environment. Helping them make the most out of their career makes me feel more accomplished than just having the shop.”