The Raven and the Wolves’ Deran Hall on Moving to Long Beach and Tattooing with His Heroes

Deran Hall may not be super well known in the Long Beach tattooing scene, but that has more to do with his recent move to the area than his artistic skill. As one of the featured artists at the Raven and the Wolves — the brand new downtown Long Beach shop run by industry icon and LBC local Carlos Torres — the level of detail and artwork that goes into each of Hall’s pieces is up there with just about anyone in the world. But if it wasn’t for the artistic renaissance seen in tattooing over the last decade, the transplanted tattooer would likely still be rocking out on stage rather than inking people for a living.

“I’ve been drawing pretty much my entire life, but it wasn’t until later in life that I got into tattooing,” Hall says. “I was a musician for a while, so I was just focused on that. About 8 years ago I realized I was tired of doing that and got back into painting and drawing again. Then I started seeing the artwork in the tattoos being done had really come a long way compared to when I started taking notice of tattoos. That was a long time ago in Michigan — and it was all just trash — so I knew I wouldn’t have much interest in doing any of that.”

Of course, working alongside guys like Torres and some of Long Beach’s other finest tattooers has pushed Hall to take his artwork to the next level. As opposed to what he’d seen in the Midwest or on the East Coast, the musician-turned-tattooer is constantly surrounded by world-class tattoos that could belong on a canvas just as easily as someone’s body. For a less motivated artist, it might be a daunting challenge to work their way up among so many other greats, but it’s more like an inspirational dream for Hall.

“These were the guys who I looked up to when I started tattooing,” Hall says of his current co-workers. “I’d never even been to California before I moved out here a year and a half ago, so it wasn’t even a remote thought that I’d end up working with these guys one day. I tell people it’s like being able to work with your favorite athlete or musician everyday. These were my idols, so it was a little surreal at first, but then you realize they’re just normal people. They’re all super nice people, and it’s awesome working with them because I get to see different approaches compared to what I was used to coming from the East Coast.”

Along with the quality of the work, the sheer amount of people looking to get tattooed is a huge uptick for Hall compared to anywhere else he’s worked. Although he couldn’t be happier about how many people want to get work done — and not just dinky little flash pieces — the lifelong artist has gone through an adjustment in opening up the types of tattoos he’s willing to do. No longer the big fish in a small pond, Hall’s become comfortable in creating top-notch designs for content he might not personally be a fan of.

“It’s obviously very big here in Southern California — a lot more so than some of the places I’ve lived in,” Hall says. “I get a few too many requests for Jesus tattoos and so forth than I’d like, but I don’t take that for granted either. They deserve to be tattooed as much as anyone else does. I used to be very picky before I moved out here, but now I just try to be humble and work with people more than I would’ve back then.”

The Raven and the Wolves, 212 The Promenade N., Long Beach, 562-336-1226, @deranhall

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