Local tattoo artist Meg Rataiczak gets creative during quarantine
Meg Rataiczak always knew that she would pursue art. Well, almost always. There was a time when her elementary school hosted a career day, but none of the careers were art-based.
“I had this fifth grader existential crisis equivalent. I thought I would make no money and couldn’t support myself. I stopped doing art completely. I refused to do it for about two years,” Meg said.
However, about two years later, Meg picked her art supplies up once again. In her senior year of high school, she decided to study graphic design and fine arts at Washington State Community College.
“I had no idea what I was doing – I was totally winging it,” she said.
Keeping in line with her decisions to “wing it,” Meg came about her current position the same way. While she was in college, she decided to get a tattoo at Monkey’s Uncle in Marietta – and while there, she was offered an apprenticeship. Now, Meg continues to pursue art as a career and is a full-time tattoo artist at the shop.
“At first it was really overwhelming. For the first two or three years, I had a second job. I had to have enough money coming in and tattooing can be unstable. There’s no guarantee of money and that was the hardest part to get over. I took a leap of faith and saved a little beforehand so I could try it,” she said. “In my heart, I’ve known that it’s for me, but in my head I’ve gone through periods of being uncertain – mostly financially driven. Though, I know I’ll do this until my body doesn’t let me.
She stuck with it and has been tattooing for five years now. Her first tattoo on a person was a set of initials on Chase Chovan, the shop owner.
“I didn’t know I was going to tattoo that day – and he does not let people tattoo him – but he let me do my first one on him,” she said.
I get to bridge the gap between expectations and reality while making the tattoos their own.
Moving toward tattooing actual clients was one of the larger hurdles for Meg to overcome. She discovered that building trust is hard with people – particularly when you’re going to ink something on them that lasts a lifetime. She credits her ability to build trust and work with clients on their ideas to learning from Chase.
“I love hearing people’s ideas and interpreting them. How they explain it, and ultimately how I design it are very different. I get to bridge the gap between expectations and reality while making the tattoos their own. Then, nine times out of ten, they choose the simplified way and not the original.”
Meg can’t find anything she loves as much as art, so it completely consumes her life – even outside of work. It helps her find inspiration for her newest pieces and for her digital sketchbook.
“My Instagram is nothing but other tattoo artists and art. I’m just constantly looking at things that I like and similar things that I can do. Right now, it seems that I’m specializing in portraits and using watercolors. I’m trying to constantly evolve in art – quicker, look better, everything varies with practice,” Meg said.
Meg’s specialization in portraits and watercolors is continuing to see a spike during the quarantine as she started to take portrait commissions since the shop is closed.
“I did a couple of paintings that I really wanted to do and then opened up for commissions. I didn’t expect to just do family and couple portraits, but that’s about all that I’m doing. It’s almost strictly family portraits because that’s what is most important to everyone. It’s a lot, but it’s cute to see what’s most important. I also got to do a young Dolly Parton holding a kitten, and that was definitely a favorite,” Meg said.
As for her personal tattoo work, she can’t pick a favorite piece because she’s tattooed so many that she loves.
“I’ve done a couple on my fiance that I like. Art and styles change so much though and there is always something that I wish I could have changed,” she said. “What I do love is when people can recognize my tattoo work. I’ve had regulars come back to tell me that strangers asked specifically if I’ve done their tattoo. It’s exciting to know that people know my art from others’.”
It felt really great to see just how much of an impact I had made on the MOV with my art.
Meg’s art is popular on social media and her reputation for reputable work is well-known. Recently, Meg was nominated and awarded Best Local Artist in the Best of the MOV.
“I was super excited to learn that I had won Best Local Artist. I was up against a lot of very talented artists of whom I was proud to just be mentioned alongside. It felt really great to see just how much of an impact I had made on the MOV with my art,” she said.
Being a tattoo artist, Meg has tattoos on herself as well. She even still loves her first tattoo, a Salvador Dali (her favorite artist) elephant inspired piece, that she got while in art school.
“I still love my first tattoo, but on the side of my calf, I have a picture of my grandparents. It’s probably my favorite. And, my knuckles say “sunshine,” it’s what my grandma calls me,” she said.
As Meg grows in her career, she takes advantage of every opportunity including tattoo conventions in larger areas. She said that it’s easy to end up tattooing many similar things in the same area, but tattoo conventions allow tattoo artists to really do what they want to do and push the boundaries artistically.
“I get really nervous because I feel like everyone knows that I haven’t been doing it as long, but nobody knows as long as you do it well and clean,” she said. “But it’s really intimidating because it’s a room full of hundreds of artists. My favorite part is meeting other artists and networking – you kind of see how they’re doing things and compare notes.”
Looking to the future, Meg knows Marietta will always be home to her, but tattoo conventions and travel continue to excite her.
“I’d like to be able to do more conventions and guest spots so I could tattoo in other places. It brings a lot of business back to the shop. I really think Monkey’s Uncle will always be the shop that I have as a home base,” she said.