For 115 years, Torrance did everything it could to keep Tiffany Garcia tattoo artists out of the community, even enacting a citywide ban in 1959, though the outdated ordinance was eventually taken off the books. .
Instead, Torrance replaced that with an overly restrictive zoning law that essentially kept the ban in place by restricting tattoo shops to operating only in large malls that generally don’t want such businesses anyway. .
But courts later ruled that tattooing was a protected form of expression under the First Amendment and could not be the target of strict zoning requirements that did not apply to other businesses.
So Garcia challenged the zoning in federal court — and won.
“They were afraid that we were going to bring in crime, bring in gangs, spread disease and so on,” she said. “I was so offended.
“It’s an archaic type of thinking,” she added. “The judge thankfully said ‘prove it’ and they couldn’t.”
The federal judge ruled that the zoning restriction was invalid and the city suddenly had no reason to stop it.
Taxpayers paid a six-figure settlement for legal fees, lost wages and other damages that occurred when the opening of his tattoo shop was delayed by illegal bureaucratic hurdles Torrance had put in place and the legal action that followed.
In 2015, the city passed an emergency ordinance allowing tattoo parlors.
Tattoos and artwork
Today, Garcia recently opened a tattoo parlor and art gallery in Old Torrance with enough space for seven artists to work in separate stations, as well as large blank walls for a curator to use to select rotating art exhibits nights and weekends.
Black Raven Tattoo has a stylish and eye-catching facade and decor that includes a seated skeleton performer in the front window painting, a stuffed crow, coffin-shaped bookcases, and horror movie-inspired artwork on its walls.
Even the Sartori Avenue address – 1313 – fits the dark, gothic theme created by horror movie fan Garcia.
She wears nothing but black clothes and literally wears her love of the genre on her bare arms; they feature tattoos of former “Dracula” movie actor Bela Lugosi and other scary movie symbolism.
“The neighborhood is just quaint and picture perfect, every business here is a small business,” said Garcia, who opened her shop on April 21. “A tattoo shop fits in better than it would next to a tire store or Costco. All the other businesses here have been so supportive and welcoming that I feel like the community m absolutely embraced being here.
“People arrive with walkers”
The demographics of Torrance residents seeking tattoos surprised the Long Beach resident, more accustomed to the younger crowd in this diverse city.
“I was expecting younger, hipster-type people to come in, and I’m getting calls from a lot of older people in the neighborhood,” Garcia said. “I’m completely shocked to have people arriving with walkers.”
Just as craft beer and gastropubs have updated beer, tattooing has seen a similar renaissance in recent years and is no longer the domain of your stereotypical drunken sailor or biker.
“We’re not the party culture that people think we are,” Garcia said. “It’s not what it used to be. It’s competitive.
She began honing her craft in 1992 in what was a male-dominated field.
Despite the sexism she encountered, Garcia slowly earned respect and reputation by learning from industry stars such as Kari Barba, considered one of the best tattoo artists.
In fact, Garcia opened her boutique in Torrance not only because she saw an untapped market, but also because she didn’t want to compete with friends and colleagues in the area.
She hopes to provide a workspace not only for tattoo artists who work in a variety of different styles, but also for others; his store has room for an art studio in the back.