Tattooist Karina Gonzalez showcases her delicate work, joining a rising tide of upcoming women tattoo artists.


By Kaitlyn Wilkes, Photos courtesy of Karina Gonzalez

Karina Gonzalez fell into her career as a tattoo artist by accident. What started as a side hustle to supplement her hospital job became the catalyst of her life as an artist. When a client who owned a tattoo shop asked her to design a logo, she was surprised to be offered an apprenticeship at their studio.

“My automatic thought was, ‘This is not how it works,’” Gonzalez says. “‘I should not be getting offered this; I should be working for it.’ So I definitely felt a little bit guilty at first where I was like, I don’t feel like I really deserve this because I don’t think I do art professionally. I doodle every now and then; I scribble here and there.”

Despite her lack of professional artistic training, and a bit of impostor syndrome, Gonzalez was a tattoo apprentice for only two months before she was allowed to start practicing on real skin. Now, Gonzalez works as a full-time tattoo artist at the woman-owned Moon Tattoo.

“I love the dynamic of a woman taking control,” she says. “It’s not even control. I feel like they just make the space so much brighter and happier, and it [shows that]tattoos don’t need to be hardcore.”

“You go to a walk-in shop and all you hear is heavy metal, everyone’s got shaved heads. I like women doing tattoos because I feel like they can bring the element of being dainty and elegant without making [the tattoo]too hardcore,” Gonzalez says.

“[The tattoo] doesn’t look like it adorns your skin,” she says. “It looks like that is the main thing about your skin. I’m super big on loving your body, being happy with who you are, and the tattoos make you feel that way. I mean, they’re beautiful; they’re art.”

Gonzalez’ unique style of art takes inspiration from the nature in her backyard, more traditional art found in museums and other tattoo artists.

“Most ideas are just given to me, and most people are pretty cool. They just say, ‘This is the idea; I want whatever your creative take on it is; run free. Don’t ask me; just let me know when you’re ready,’” Gonzalez says.

In her experience, she has found that female tattoo artists listen to their clients more, treating tattoos like commissioned works of art. They imagine how the art will look on the client, how it will flow on their skin.
When Gonzalez first joined the tattoo community, she did not expect the openness that lives within other Austinite tattoo artists.

“All of the tattoo artists here in Austin, we all know each other. We’ve all heard of each other. Especially [those of]us who work at women-owned shops, female-led organizations. It’s just really nice to see that,” she reflects. “You know, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like or what gender you are. We all just understand we’re all doing the same thing.”

Despite the community and creativity, despite her success, Gonzalez often falls victim to perfectionism. “It’s such a good quality to have when this is your job,” she says. “But it can also not be the best quality because you’re constantly second-guessing everything you just did, and you’re like, ‘I could have done this better.’”

To combat her need for perfection, Gonzalez reminds herself that she and her client liked the original design, so there is no need to question her work. “I think that’s the hardest part, just being confident in what you do,” she says. “When you do it, [don’t] feel like you always need to go back and redo it. That’s definitely something I could apply in my day to day life. I don’t need to second-guess myself.”

Meet the women of Moon Tattoo


Tina Poe (she/they)


Amanda Rae (she/her)


Karina Gonzalez (she/her)

Photos courtesy of Moon Tattoo



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