Ask a Local: LA’s Best Tattoo Artists, Armenian Restaurants and Malibu Seafood

Alvin Liam Archibald of Ephemeral Tattoo shares his recommendations across the city

January 31, 2023 7:35 am
Ephemeral Tattoo Artist Alvin Liam Archibald
Ephemeral Tattoo artist Alvin Liam Archibald gives us some recommendations.
Courtesy of Alvin Liam Archibald

This year, I gave myself a birthday gift: an Ephemeral Tattoo, which is like a regular tattoo, except instead of a lifetime commitment, it only lasts nine to 15 months. That seemed like the perfect bodily commitment to me, so I got my first tattoo at their studio on La Brea in the heart of L.A.

My tattoo artist was Alvin Liam Archibald, an Angeleno by choice, not birthright. The first thing I noticed about him was his fashion-forward style. He seemed like the kind of effortless hipster we could all take some tips from, so I asked him for the download: what brought him to Los Angeles, his fashion inspiration, favorite local haunts and the SoCal experience through his eyes.

Below, Archibald gives us a tour of his adopted hometown with recommendations for where to dine, drink and fill up your artistic cup. If you want to do L.A. like a cool kid, here’s your cheat sheet.

InsideHook: You’re originally from Turkey. What were your perceptions of L.A. before you moved here? Were they accurate or not?

Alvin Liam Archibald: The idea that it’s always warm here and spending the whole winter in a hoodie has always fascinated me because I’m a total summer kid and warm weather makes me feel comfortable. And yes, I found what I wanted!

You’re a tattoo artist. When did you first realize that’s what you wanted to do, and how did you pursue it?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, since I was about three or four years old. This ability pushed me to architecture and archeology in my education and then to the fashion industry as a profession and career, but none of those occupations gave me pleasure. Then a couple of years ago, a close friend of mine insisted, “I want to get a tattoo, but I want you to do my first tattoo. I trust your drawing and hand skills.” So I bought a cheap machine and made my tattooing debut. At that moment, I found the answer to the question I’d been asking for years: What job could I really enjoy and would make me happy? And that’s how I became a tattoo artist.

You work at Ephemeral Tattoo on La Brea. Explain what’s unique about these tattoos.

Made-to-fade! Our tattoos only last nine to 15 months. With a patented temporary ink that naturally fades from the skin, this makes us very unique. 

I spotted several tattoos on you. Where in Los Angeles have you/would you go for a permanent tattoo?

I got the tattoos on my right arm from my friends whom I love and whose talents I trust. [Editor’s note: These include Bahar Yapman, Ceren Karakus, Kate and Cagla Cagdas] Also, as a permanent tattoo artist, I use my left arm myself, so whenever I buy new or another brand of ink and needles, I try them on myself first before my customers. 

Where do you go for artistic inspiration? Do you have any favorite museums, graffiti walls, or other aesthetic haunts that fill up your cup?

Home decoration and architecture feed me artistically. I subscribe to many magazines and watch YouTube channels about those topics when I am free at home. Unless I’m out for fun, I don’t like crowds and noise, so no museums, etc. I stay away from people and closer to nature instead, which inspires me more.

You have a very unique style. What local clothing shops do you hit up?

It would be more correct to say that I already have a style and wardrobe that has formed over the years, has become clear and matches with me, and if I need something, I add to it. I do target-oriented shopping; I don’t get any items I don’t need, won’t match other things in my wardrobe, and can’t use for more than three combinations. Also, my family members have a big fashion brand in Turkey (or, as we spell it, Turkiye), and since their style suits me very well, I wear all my daily and basic products from them.

Okay, here’s the scenario: You have a day off. What’s your favorite L.A. neighborhood to visit? What do you do there?

I live in Beverly Hills, and spending time locally around my home in places I know and am known makes me feel safe and belong. My daily morning routine is to walk down the Santa Monica Blvd path in the morning and then have my coffee at the Melrose Verve coffee shop. I also love DTLA. It reminds me of my old neighborhood in Brooklyn; there are so many stylish and unique places.

In Topanga, my favorite breakfast and brunch spots include Cafe on 27 —  I love the crepe “Rolled on 27,” and the place is in nature. It’s super quiet and everything looks amazing.

At the Topanga Living Cafe, I always order a falafel bowl or avocado toast with sunny-side eggs. 

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You have a weekend off. What’s your favorite SoCal weekend getaway?

Having dinner with my loved ones at home or outside and then listening to a techno DJ performance is the best weekend activity for me.

What’s the best time of year to visit L.A.?

I’ve always preferred summer months and hot weather, so I’ll say the summer season.

You have a friend visiting from out-of-town and one day to show them around. Where do you take them for the “perfect” introduction to the city?

After having breakfast in nature in Topanga, we spend time on the beach between Santa Monica and Malibu, and in the evening in Malibu, there is a local restaurant, Malibu Seafood, that sells fresh seafood that I love. We have dinner there — it’s my favorite seafood restaurant, super chill and cool. I always order grilled shrimp or the mixed seafood plate. This restaurant comes with an amazing ocean view!

What hotel would you recommend your friend stay at?

We Turks love to host guests in our house, but if there is no room in my house or I am unavailable, I’d suggest they stay in a historical and traditional L.A. Airbnb house.

What’s one iconic Hollywood landmark that’s actually worth it to visit for locals and tourists alike?

The Getty Villa. I think it is very special and must be seen because it combines history, nature, art and architecture.

What’s your favorite restaurant experience in L.A.? (Is it the food, vibes, aesthetic, something else?)

I love Armenian cuisine very much. Even though Armenian and Turkish cultures have many political problems, we are similar human beings and have the same taste. Here in Los Angeles, I actually eat all the food that I have eaten and loved before in Turkey, according to the authentic recipes, and this is a dream for a food lover like me. I’ll drive 45 minutes to eat fresh baklava and antakali kebab at Koko’s, an Armenian restaurant in Van Nuys.

Best local dive bar?

The Honor Bar. (Get the Honor burger.)

Do you hike? If so, what are your favorite trails?

I love hiking. Franklin Canyon is my favorite trail.

Most Instagram-worthy hot spot in Southern California?

This will be cliché, but wherever there are palm trees and a Hollywood sign.


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