Kayla Hetner has always been interested in various art forms. From painting to drawing, she’s dabbled in just about all of it, but nothing captivated her as much as tattooing.
The moment Hetner stepped foot into a tattoo shop, she knew she wanted to become a tattoo artist.
Hetner is currently a sophomore pursuing a degree in psychology but also has an apprenticeship at Third Dimension Tattoo located right here in East Stroudsburg.
“Since I was a young kid around the age of 13, I wanted to become a tattoo artist,” Hetner said. “I went with my brother for his first tattoo when he had turned 16. The experience of being in a shop was one that I loved.”
Hetner said that she was captivated by all of the artwork and the wide variety of people with their interesting stories. Eventually, Hetner acquired an apprenticeship with Third Dimension tattoo and has been with them for over six months.
“I am learning how to draw and design meaningful tattoos,” Hetner said. “I am also learning how to tattoo from others’ inspirations and how to do piercings.”
Hetner said she has already learned so much from two other artists at Third Dimension Tattoo, Brian Murphy and Jessica Lockard.
“The two artists I’m learning from both have given me some of the best tattooing advice I have ever received,” Hetner said. “They have given me an amazing opportunity and I am forever grateful to them. I feel as though they have become family.”
Hetner recalled that her very first client was her father, who originally wasn’t enthusiastic about her desire to become a tattoo artist.
Eventually, though, he allowed her to tattoo him which Hetner said was his way of showing his support.
Since then, Hetner said that she has tattooed many more of her family members, friends, strangers and even herself.
While Hetner said that her apprenticeship at Third Dimension Tattoo has been one of the best experiences of her life, it does come with a cost.
“Being an apprentice as well as a full-time college student is very overwhelming,” Hetner said. “I go to classes Monday through Friday and am also at the shop six days a week.”
Though, working through the week as both an apprentice and psychology student, Hetner said she noticed a connection between the two.
“When I ink a tattoo for someone, it may have no meaning for me,” Heter said, “but for the person engraving their skin with it, it probably has much significance. From simple words that may have changed a life to small drawings that remind people of great memories, each tattoo has a story and they share these stories with me.”
Currently, her favorite tattooing style is Neo-Traditional, which combines realistic things with bold lines and shapes.
Hetner said that what inspires her most and keeps her determined to improve is seeing artwork from other tattoo artists.
“Everyday, I go on Instagram and just look at artists from all around the world,” Hetner said. “When I find an artist I really enjoy, I look through all of their art and try to find how I can produce the same quality as them.”
Hetner hopes that in ten years from now, she is still tattooing at Third Dimension Tattoo alongside her mentors, Brian Murphy and Jessica Lockard (and possibly, teaching her own apprentice some things she has learned).
Thinking of getting a tattoo? Hetner invites you to check out some of her tattooing work on her Instagram @kayla.nicole35 and visit Third Dimension Tattoo at 2610 Milford Rd. #18, East Stroudsburg, Pa.
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