Artist Feature

Nina Palagonia Uses 3D Models

Nina Palagonia Uses 3D Models

Meet Nina Palagonia

Nina Palagonia's journey begins in Naugatuck, Connecticut. Born into a family of artists, Nina's life was destined to be colorful and expressive. Her mother was a tattoo artist, her father a painter, and her grandfather also had a flair for art. From craft shows in the summer to the vibrant world of tattooing, creativity flowed through Nina's veins from a young age.

Nina’s mother, a cosmetology educator turned tattoo artist, highly influenced Nina's early years. It was during summer days and after-school hours that Nina found herself in her mother's tattoo studio, absorbing the craft. Family life for Nina was a blend of artistic chaos and nurturing discipline. This dynamic environment taught Nina invaluable lessons in work ethic and business management, setting the stage for her future career.

Nina's Transition Into Tattooing

Despite her introverted nature and “boring” teenage years filled with drawing, anime, and choir practice, Nina excelled in school, except in math. Her passion for art was unwavering, encouraged by her parents who recognized her talent. However, the conventional path of college did not resonate with her. After a year and a half, she left college feeling unfulfilled and struggling with the financial burden. This turning point led her to dive headfirst into tattooing, stepping up in the family business.

Nina's early years in tattooing were marked by tireless work and community involvement. She completed countless tattoos, from tiny designs to large pieces, participating in fundraisers and donating to local shelters. Her parents' support never wavered, providing her the foundation to pursue her passion wholeheartedly.

Now, after a decade in the industry, Nina's skills and reputation have grown significantly. An apprenticeship with her mother laid the groundwork, but it was her move to New York that truly catalyzed her artistic evolution. Initially, her art was basic and experimental, but New York's vibrant scene allowed her to refine her style, gravitating towards neo-traditional, watercolor, and illustrative tattoos. The chaotic move during the pandemic tested her resilience, yet tattooing remained her anchor, providing stability and purpose.

Nina’s daily life is a testament to her dedication. Rising at 7:30 am, she makes an effort to balance yoga, work, and personal time. Her evenings are spent drawing, accompanied by her two beloved cats, Dexter and Onyx. This routine fuels her creativity and keeps her grounded.

Using 3D Models

Her work now is characterized by its storytelling ability, blending with the anatomy of the body to create meaningful art. She embraces modern tools like Tattoo Smart's 3D models, which help clients visualize larger pieces, enhancing their confidence and comfort. This innovative approach not only elevates her work but also sets her apart in the industry.

Procreate 3D Tattoo Models | Tattoo Smart

With a recent client, Nina used one of Tattoo Smart's 3D arm models to place and render this beautiful arm sleeve, featuring a curious owl and lovely flowers. 


 From Procreate to stencil, our Model Humans help Nina and her client visualize the final design. 

Nina's Work/Life Balance

Balancing work and personal life is a constant struggle, a common theme among tattoo artists. Nina finds solace in activities like yoga and painting, the latter becoming a journey of self-discovery. Unlike her commercial tattoo work, her paintings remain private, a personal sanctuary free from business pressures.

Nina credits her boyfriend, also a tattoo artist, for helping her find this balance. His more relaxed approach to life highlighted the emptiness of her work-centric existence, encouraging her to explore her creativity without the constraints of client demands. This newfound freedom has boosted her confidence and allowed her to develop her unique artistic voice.

Reflecting on her journey, Nina acknowledges the growth and transformation she has undergone. From a young girl in Naugatuck, drawing to pass the time, to a successful tattoo artist in New York, her story is one of passion, perseverance, and profound artistic evolution. Her parents’ teachings, the challenges of running a business, and the support of her community have all played pivotal roles in shaping the artist she is today.

For aspiring tattoo artists, Nina Palagonia's story is a beacon of inspiration. It underscores the importance of embracing one's passion, the value of continuous learning, and the necessity of balancing work with personal well-being. As she continues to ink her legacy, Nina remains a testament to the power of art in shaping and transforming lives.

You can find Nina at First Class Tattoos on Canal Street in New York, NY!
Follow her on Instagram ( to learn more. 

Reading next