In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Beaver Tattoo put together a portfolio of Sandy Relief Tattoos and all proceeds, nearly $1,000 dollars, went to the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association who, in turn, used it to help the residents impacted by that deadly storm.
“The response was enormous,” said Natalia Borgia, owner of Beaver Tattoo on 94th Street just south of Jamaica Avenue. “We had clients driving all the way from Staten Island and Upstate New York to participate.
“We were very pleased to see New Yorkers standing strong and helping each other,” she added. “Some days we had to stay after closing hours just to accommodate all the walk-ins. The response was so great that we did another relief action, this time for an animal shelter in the Rockaways that was destroyed by the storm.”
It is for these efforts and accomplishments that Beaver Tattoo will be honored as Woodhaven’s 2015 Business of the Year at the annual gala hosted by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association.
This year’s celebration takes place on Friday, October 2, at Roma View Fine Catering in Howard Beach. Tickets are $70 each and include a full buffet dinner, beer, wine, soda and dessert. Call (718) 296-3735 for more details.
Borgia comes to Woodhaven from Eastern Poland, where she was born and raised while it was still under Communist rule. She showed exceptional artistic talent at a very young age, but had limited opportunities to hone that talent at school.
Borgia’s life changed forever when her parents won a Green Card lottery and the entire family moved to the United States in 1997. Suddenly, Borgia found herself at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art.
“I absolutely loved the teachers and all the different classes I was able to take, from printmaking to advanced painting to ceramics,” she says.
She was particularly taken by an act of kindness by one teacher, Mrs. Dell.
“Everyone in class was supposed to buy an art bin for their supplies,” Borgia recalls. “Since I was new in the country, I ended up with a shoe box. All my classmates had shiny brand new art bins and she must have noticed my embarrassment. She stopped me after class and gave me an art bin of my own.”
Borgia has never forgotten this gesture. In fact, it inspired her to help others, and she recently returned to her old school and dropped off a new art box for a student with a tight home budget.
Now in its fifth year, Beaver Tattoo is unique as it is completely staffed by female artists.
“We welcome all clients, male and female, however a lot of ladies feel more at ease with girl artists, especially when they are getting work on intimate areas like hips or ribs where they have to be quite undressed,” Borgia said. “Their boyfriends are happy about that as well.”
A few years ago, the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association held an art show and the staff from Beaver Tattoo participated, showing a wide range of skills and specialties, something that’s crucial when choosing an artist to work on your tattoo.
“Do your research, look at artists' portfolios,” Borgia advises. “If they don't have one, that means they have no work they're proud of showing to others.”
As for other tips, Borgia warns against getting someone’s name,
“Unless it's a family member,” she said. “We've covered up way too many ex-girlfriend’s and boyfriend’s names!”
Borgia feels there are some misconceptions out there about people with tattoos.
“Some people think that the men are criminals and the women are promiscuous and we’re all drug addicts,” she said. “That obviously is not true. I've tattooed police officers, firefighters, medical professionals, even a school principal. You would be amazed knowing who has ink in this day and age.”
Borgia also notes that you're never too old to get a tattoo.
“I had the pleasure of working on Miss Judith Graves,” she says, referring to the beloved Woodhaven resident who passed away last November. “She was a lovely woman and when I grow up I want to be just like her.”
Hearing that, one thing you know you can expect is an artistic environment where your interests and boundaries are respected.
“I see the body as an empty canvas,” Borgia says. “One that needs to be decorated to one's personal needs and wishes.”
You can view the portfolios of the entire staff at beavertattoo.com or call (718) 441-1328 for more information.