Fine Arts Career Services hosts Building a Career as a Tattoo Artist, educates creative students on tattoo careers


Alisha Dulaney

Speakers Imani Tatum, Tina Poe and Nat Power smile and laugh as they speak to students about their careers as tattoo artists.

Arlinne Montemayor, General Life&Arts Reporter

Excited chatter filled the Kendra Scott Center on Friday afternoon as students patiently waited with paper in hand for local tattoo artists to divulge their knowledge. 

Organized by the Fine Arts Career Services, Building a Career as a Tattoo Artist featured artists Tina Poe, Imani Tatum and UT alum Nat Powers. The artists answered a variety of questions from students and panel host Isabel Tweraser, career services coordinator. During the event, the artists discussed the ins and outs of a tattoo career, pieces of advice and more. 

Owning Nana’s Prayers, one of the only Black-owned tattoo studios in Austin, Tatum announced in an Instagram post on Feb. 7 that she was moving her shop out of Austin in May because of systemic racism driving out Black residents. Speaking at the panel about her experiences as a tattoo artist, Tatum said her ability to enter the white, male-dominated industry relied on finding a community with other Black artists. 

“It’s really important to remember the old saying, ‘It’s not about what you know. It’s about who you know,” Tatum said. “(Before) meeting (my mentor) Clay, I tried to get into the industry, (and) I was met with a lot of noes. Unless I met a Black man who was willing to teach me, I wouldn’t be in the industry. It’s important to find someone you identify with.” 

Poe, owner of Moon Tattoo Studio, said she wants to encourage artists to channel their creativity into a career. Additionally, Poe spoke on her individual experiences entering the field as a person of color in a white, male-dominated industry. 

“When I was younger, I loved seeing tattoos, but I never thought … I could go into (the industry) because I never saw any women or people of color in tattoo shops when I was in my younger teens,” Poe said. 

Though he’s not currently looking to become a tattoo artist, Neal Flynn, an art education graduate student, said he attended the event to hear the advice of professionals in case he decides to pursue the career later on. 

“When I was in undergrad, there was no mention of using your talent or your skills to go on and tattoo,” Flynn said. “But it ended up being the reality for some of the people in my program.” 

While she’s not interested in a tattoo career, Ima Esiere, an arts and entertainment technologies senior, said she accompanied an interested friend who wants to enter the industry but feels unsure of how to get started.

“When (a career) doesn’t have a degree for it or isn’t talked about much, there are so many jobs you don’t know exist,” Esiere said. “People know that tattoo artists exist, but it’s still a reminder (that) you don’t have to do what you went to school for. Things can translate.” 

Participating in speaking events and portfolio reviews, Poe said she hopes that by talking to students she can empower them to utilize their creative skills and passions as potential professions. 

“I really want to encourage people who want to be artists and want to be creative to know that there are things they can do with that creativity as career paths,” Poe said. “I thought (speaking) would be a great way to do that.”