Rafael Barragan (AKA Rafa or Ralph) is a self-taught artist and is among a new breed of tattooers, attempting to blend all facets of art into the world of tattoo. He pulls inspiration for his tattoo work from all styles whether it be portraits, old school tattoos, new school tattoos, graffiti style, or fine art tattoos. Rafa has a way of making every piece personal, designed with that particular client in mind. Rafa is a firm believer that a world class tattoo artist should be “artist” first and tattooist second. Each and every design is approached in a similar manner; he does so by merging the fundamentals of art that have withstood the test of time, and when applied to tattooing, the end result is a cohesive piece that is a true work of art.
Rafa is a Southern California native, raised in Garden Grove, CA. He recalls that one of his most memorable gifts growing up was an “Artist Studio” set (everything a kid could want to draw or paint with). The gift was given to him by his Godmother Coco when he was just 6-years old. Rafa grew up as the second oldest in a Hispanic family of six. Later in life, Rafa moved from Tustin back to his hometown of Garden Grove and was impacted by the Street Art (Graffiti art/tagging) he saw in the area neighborhoods. It was in this environment where he first got his taste of the SoCal tattoo culture from an older “veterano” of the old neighborhood gangs in Santa Ana.
The first 2-years of Rafa’s professional tattooing career saw him operating out of his home, and later hitting the road with his mobile tattoo studio to meet the needs of tattoo collectors around California itching to get an original piece. Rafa and his good friend Coyote got their start at Fullerton’s Rat A Tatt Tatt before opening Illuminati Tattoo Lounge in 2012.
Rafa’s fine art background means that client’s can enjoy a truly custom tattoo no matter the style. Specializing in black and grey, portraits, realistic, Japanese, traditional, neo-traditional, graffiti, and fine line tattoo for the discriminating tattoo collector!