Natalia Borgia was born in Eastern Poland and grew up under the Communist regime. There was only one art school near Natalia’s home and the chances of acceptance were slim. In 1997, luck won her and her family a ticket to the U.S. in the Green Card Lottery.
When she was 15, a security guard at her New York City high school casually mentioned that she should become a tattoo artist. The idea stuck. Before tattooing, Natalia had many jobs in the art world, from photography and graphic design, all the way to illustration. However, the real beginning of her career was when she received a tattoo kit from her husband as a birthday gift. “Since I had absolutely no idea how to use it, it ended up in the corner collecting dust quite quickly.” A year later, the owner of Island Tattoo (now New York Tattoo) saw potential in a piece she had done on herself and offered her an apprenticeship.
Today, Natalia works with an all-female crew at Beaver Tattoo in New York City. “The whole idea (for the name) started as a joke, but actually became reality in 2010.” Though they welcome all genders they do get more clients of the female variety. “A lot of ladies like the idea because they feel more at ease with a girl artist, especially when they are getting work on intimate areas where they have to be quite undressed. Their boyfriends are happy about it as well.”
Being a minority in the tattoo industry doesn’t faze Natalia. “I have a feeling that most industries are male dominated, no matter what department it is. Honestly, I don’t bother myself with people’s opinions. I do, on the other hand, care about my clients’ opinions, whether they’re male or female. They chose me and my work among many others, so I always try to give them my best.”
Natalia is a huge fan of classical art. Her tattooing style is a unique blend of Rococo, Victorian ornaments and 19th century illustrations and engravings. She is known for meticulous black and grey pieces with hints of colour, described as clean and sharp. “I do get more lady clients, not because I’m a woman, but because my body work is quite swirly and feminine.”
As for the future, Natalia hopes tattooing will be as common as piercing your ears. “I see the body as an empty canvas that we can customize to our own needs and desires. We can customize everything else, why not ourselves? It makes each one of us really unique.”