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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Arina Nemchuk’s tattooing business combines her academic, artistic passions

UC Davis student discusses her therapeutic connection to tattooing and artistic inspiration

By MONICA ROBERTS — features@theaggie.org


Arina Nemchuk, a third-year psychology major, does not have a typical student job. Instead, her job as a tattoo artist combines her passions for therapy and art to create permanent body murals with just a needle and ink. 

Nemchuk said that her parents, who immigrated from Russia and raised her in San Francisco, support both her academic and artistic careers. 

Her first experience with tattooing was as an experiment with her friend when she was still living in San Francisco at age 18. It was not until a year later that she developed an interest in tattoo work, but she said that she cannot remember a time when she was not making art in some form. 

Nemchuk described her first original tattoo as life-changing. She had always been creating art, but it was an entirely different experience seeing it on skin. 

“There was a shift from when I was making art on paper to when I had someone wear my art,” Nemchuk said. “I felt like my art was immortalized.”

Once she began tattooing, she scraped up as much money as she could for a tattoo machine and began practicing on artificial skin. Six months later, she began tattooing as a profession.

Nemchuk said that her friends were many of her first clients — leading to an explosion in referrals. She said that the uptick in business was overwhelming at first, but she managed her stress well as she transitioned from tattooing friends for fun to having a packed schedule of appointments. 

Nemchuk started taking incall tattoo appointments in San Francisco and has now been working for over two years. After moving to Davis, she began working professionally in a tattoo shop in Sacramento, but she also takes incall appointments in her home in Davis and does outcall appointments in clients’ homes.

Nemchuk said that a lot of her original work is concentrated on surreal concepts. When creating original art, she said that she focuses on lines, line weight and the overall flow of the design. 

“I love tattooing mushrooms and snails and curved patterns the most,” Nemchuk said. “Most of my art is abstract and surreal. Nature and meditative states bring [me] the most inspiration.” 

Nemchuk creates mostly psychedelic pieces that she feels are healing and uplifting. She believes that trauma can be healed through artistic expression and personally uses art as a form of therapeutic release. 

As a psychology major, Nemchuk feels as though she is combining her academic interests with her artistic interests through her tattooing. 

“When you’re tattooing, you are both emotionally and physically close to that person,” Nemchuk said. “I find it liberating to decorate your body. It can be a way to celebrate an accomplishment or cherish a memory.” 

Nemchuk described tattooing as great practice for her future career as a therapist. She loves listening to her clients’ stories about the meaning behind their tattoos as she works, and she sees her work as a release of emotional pain through physical pain. 

After graduation, Nemchuk plans to get a license in Marriage and Family Therapy (LMFT), focusing on psybicilin therapy for anxiety and depression. 

“Even though I want tattooing to be a side career to therapy, I want to tattoo my whole life,” Nemchuk said. 

Although Nemchuk is content with holding two very different careers, she hopes that one day she can combine both worlds, maybe even by practicing art therapy. 

Currently, Nemchuk is donating 50% of her freelance tattooing proceeds to Sunflower of Peace, an organization that supports Ukranians affected by the Russian military invasion. She explained that this cause is meaningful to her because of her Ukrainian heritage. The majority of her family resides in Eastern Europe, and many have been personally affected by the war. 

Her artwork and bookings can be found on Instagram (@art_snaail). 


Written by: Monica Roberts  — features@theaggie.org




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