Dia Moeller


born and raised in hungary i wasn’t exposed to tattoos from an early age, but i fell in love with the industry and the people in it right when i got my first tattoo and i’ve wanted to be a tattoo artist ever since. a couple of years, a lot of tattoos and a completely unrelated college degree later i started working at the painted bird tattoo in boston where i completed a two year apprenticeship and have been a resident artist ever since. i have been a licensed tattoo artist since 2010 and as a custom artist i believe in building a relationship with my clients to make sure i can give each and every one of them the most flattering tattoo possible.

my personal tattoo style inspired by the dark and macabre subject matter combined with ornate, organic elements like vintage floral art and classic oil paintings.

when i am not tattooing i like to dedicate my time to other forms of fine art, like drawing or painting, and travel as much as possible.

note on new projects

due to the overwhelming amount of inquiries about tattoo projects and my hectic schedule between tattooing and traveling for conventions, i am only able to take on projects that align with my personal style and interest in the subject matter.

if you are interested in setting up a tattoo appointment with me i would need you to email me first a brief description of the subject matter, size and placement.

please do not get offended if i choose to recommend someone else for you tattoo. i want to make sure that every client gets the best possible tattoo i can create for them. if i am unable to help you i will direct to you to one of my co workers who i think will be best for the job. at the boston tattoo company we have an amazingly talented and diverse staff so i am sure someone will be able to make your tattoo idea a reality.

i am extremely grateful for the continuing support, because this makes it possible for me to become more focused in my field and to constantly evolve my art.

because of this i am unable to take on projects that are not original designs (e.g reproducing someone else’s artwork, cover ups, fix ups or re doing other artist work ) along with abstract/watercolor tattoos.

please read the
faq. section for more information.

here's an interview i did with Vihn at Skin Deep Art in 2013. a full transcript can be found here.

[SDIA] Hi Dia, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

[Dia Moeller] My name is Dia, I was born and raised in Hungary, but have been living in Boston for about 5 years. This may mark my third year as a professional tattooer. I have a husband who is an excellent body piercer, a really grumpy looking dog and a fat orange cat. Tattooing is pretty much consuming my life in a good way. I don’t do anything exciting besides that and drawing. I love to read, I am a nerdy bookworm at heart, I love art, I have a particular interest in fashion, oddities, everything old, creepy and weird.

[SDIA] When did you first discover the existence of tattoos?

[Dia Moeller] They were not around when I was growing up, I had one family friend who had tattoos, and they looked interesting, but never really gave them a second thought. I saw a LOT of tattoos the first time I came to the US, specifically in New Jersey. Those were not the best ones to say the least, but it peaked my interest enough to ask my boyfriend at the time of his opinion. He was very much against tattoos, so naturally I went to get my first one a couple of days later…. at this point I just discovered a whole new world, well to me at least. I jumped on that bandwagon pretty late I think… I was 19.

[SDIA] When did you decide that you wanted to be a professional tattoo artist?

[Dia Moeller] When I got that God awful tribal lily on my lower back. I never thought about tattooing as a “normal” job. I thought people were just doing it for fun I guess. That was the first time I’ve ever been to a tattoo studio and I was impressed. It just clicked I think.

[SDIA] Before ever touching a tattoo machine, how did you learn how to draw?

[Dia Moeller] I actually never really knew I could draw. No one encouraged me to do it and I was into other things growing up. So yeah technically I’m not one of those people who grew up drawing on everything they could touch, I kinda wish I was. I met the guy who owned the shop where I got my first tattoo and really randomly we became friends. He did a lot of my tattoos in the beginning. I asked him about how apprenticeships work and he flat out said no because I didn’t draw. I was disappointed of course, and started drawing. I never went to art school, but try to take as many art classes as I can. Besides that I am self thought.

[SDIA] You learned the trade by doing an apprenticeship. Can you tell us a bit about your experience? Any of the infamous grunt work you hear stories about? (laughs)

[Dia Moeller] I had a really good apprenticeship. I was lucky enough to learn under multiple artists who were more family than just co-workers and they were extremely helpful and supportive most of the time. I mean obviously I got yelled at, had to clean toilets and, at some point, was attacked with weird homemade weapons, but for the most part nothing gnarly really happened. My mom visited when I was about halfway through it and every single guy in the shop made it a point to blatantly hit on her because it bothered me. (laughs)

[SDIA] Let me ask you this since you’re the first female tattoo artist we’ve interviewed. Do you think it’s tougher for a female artist to get an apprenticeship and make a name for herself in the industry?

[Dia Moeller] Yes and no. I think it’s harder for sensitive personalities, the gender doesn’t matter as much. People will yell and curse at you, and most likely no one will care when you’re feelings are hurt. You can’t let small things get to you. It happened to me more than once that someone said something really rude; I cried a little in the bathroom and went about my day. If you don’t show that it’s bothering you, at some point it stops. Sometimes customers, mostly men think that because I’m a girl, I’ll just let them tell me what to do, which is not really an option. I am extremely hard-headed and don’t let anyone push me around. That helps I think, but sometimes people can confuse it with being mean or bitchy. The whole industry is not as male dominated as it was 10 years go. There are some incredible female tattooers out there. On the other hand I think most of my clients appreciate the fact that I’m a girl and you can tell it by looking at my designs. They are feminine and pretty but not too much that it’s disturbing. I have as many male clients as females though. I think my art is just a little bit different from the stuff you see every day. The bottom line is: if you’re good, people will recognize it and it won’t matter that you’re a woman or a man or anything in between.

[SDIA] What I noticed immediately when I went through your portfolio is that you’re a very versatile tattoo artist. There are some terrific color realism pieces, fine line ,black and grey, old school, etc. How long did it take you to master each one?

[Dia Moeller] I think my portfolio is versatile because I’m really new but I am by no means a master of any of those styles. I was taught that a good artist should have the basic knowledge to do pretty much anything, and I also enjoy the challenege of switching things up every once in a while. I think I started focusing on specific things in the past year, and now my portfolio looks more cohesive than before. I’m so lucky to work with some amazing artist so we can recommend potential clients to each other which also means I rarely do traditional tattoos anymore. (laughs) I’m just trying everything out and see what do I really enjoy doing.

[SDIA] Do you have a favorite style?

[Dia Moeller] I think I’m still trying to find one that’s completely my own. I love mixing realism with the more graphic style of art nouveau or art deco. My real love right now lies more in the subject matter than a specific style. I like uncommon combinations. I like to mix really pretty and delicate with weird gross or dead things, and I think realism helps me communicate it. I feel it’s more believable when it looks real, even if it’s obviously not. It’s like a unicorn: you know it’s just a horse with a horn, but it’s freakin magical. I’m also a big fan of heavy black and a lot of contrast in my tattoos recently I like the look of it more than soft greywash. Color was my first love, I love color realism, it took me a pretty long time to get comfortable with black and grey, so I’ll always be excited to play around with it. I’m a hoarder when it comes to tattoo pigment. I just want to own all the pretty colors.

[SDIA] There have been some seriously impressive artists coming out of Eastern Europe the past few years, names that are unknown by most of us in America. Have you had a chance to return to your birthplace Hungary, and what can you tell us about the tattoo scene there?

[Dia Moeller] Oh yes, Eastern European artists are definitely amazing. There are some crazy talents from Russia, Poland and Hungary. It is mind blowing what those guys can do. My family lives in Hungary so I go home quite often. There are a lot of great artists working there, but I don’t think you see that many heavily tattooed people as you do in the US. Maybe I’m wrong though and should visit in the summer when you see more than wintercoats. (laughs) Plus I actually don’t know too many in person because by the time I was seriously interested in tattooing, I was already living in the US. I think doing the Budapest convention would be fun.

[SDIA] Would you like to do a guest spot in some hop in Hungary one day? Or any other country you’d like to work in?

[Dia Moeller] Absolutely. I’d love to travel and work in different places and with a variety of artist. I think it’s fantastic when you get to visit places you’ve always wanted to go and you get to work too. I’d love to go to Italy, Spain, Japan, London, Greece, India, and I’m dying to visit Russia or go back to Krakow. I think I’m just really European at heart even though I love Boston.

[SDIA] Was your family supportive of your career and your passion for tattoos?

[Dia Moeller] (laughs) Absolutely not, they were mortified. I finished college because they wanted me to, and pretty much ran for the hills right after. They were convinced for years that I will be an attorney. I got accepted in law school but never ended up doing it and for a long time they were pissed. I think somewhere deep down, they still hope that this is not serious, but trying to cope with it now. Every time I go home, I listen to them telling me that I will never find a normal job with “all those crazy tattoos “. I think now they are just happy that I’m happy. Funny enough they adore my heavily tattooed husband.

[SDIA] How and when did you start working at the Boston Tatto Company and how do you like it?

[Dia Moeller] I moved to the Boston Tattoo company in the beginning of this year. I worked in it’s sister shop (The Painted Bird Tattoo) which is owned by the same man, Jason Zube, so it wasn’t that big of a change. In this shop, I can focus on more custom work because clients actually want it and seek it out. It’s kind of crazy how many people are finding me just because we are on the same page of what makes a good tattoo. I am really lucky and extremely grateful because without them I wouldn’t get to do my weird ideas. Not to mention that I love the area the shop is in. There is everything: good food, bars, movie theater, cute little shops, parks. It’s awesome.

[SDIA] Any weird client stories? Like has anyone ever passed out on you during a session?

[Dia Moeller] I always worked at really busy shops, so I got see a whole range of different personalities, everyone from the cool kids to the weirdos to sweet old ladies getting BFF tattoos at age 60. I think I’m lucky because lot of my clients became friends quite fast. I don’t have anyone in particular that stood out as weirdest. When someone asks me what was the weirdest tattoo I did, I always realize that it’s the ones I got complete freedom with. Maybe I’m the weird one and all my clients are normal. As far as passing out goes, it’s always the big guys and that sucks because there is really nothing I can do. I mean I think this is probably the only disadvantage of being a girl in a tattoo shop, not being able to pick up passed out guys off the floor. I did like the girl though who got the word unbreakable tattooed on her and passed out on her way out of the shop. She was fine, but apparently, breakable. (laughs)

[SDIA] When someone comes to you with an idea, how or where do you find inspiration to draw the piece?

[Dia Moeller] Well when someone has the idea half the battle is over… I more of figure out how I want to make that idea look, what is the feel I will try to communicate. Usually I have a basic idea of the piece I want to do for them within the first 10 minutes in the consultation, I just have to put it on paper so they can see it too. I dont like it when people come and when I ask what they want they pull the whole “you’re the professional, you tell me” card. I just look at them and ask if they’ve seen my drawings. There is some weird stuff in my head. (laughs) But to answer the question, I get my inspiration pretty much everywhere: books, magazines, online. I look at vintage illustrations of animals and plants, old medical illustrations (I have a pathologist client who brought me some crazy awesome reference books), fashion magazines and runaway shows, photography books. I love to go to museums everywhere and take my own pictures. Got some amazing reference shots from Harry Potter world this year when I went on vacation, as well as antique shops and fairs when I get the chance. It’s just too many awesome things I might need at some point. I’d love to own a real human skull and take pictures of it. Everyone is using the same google photos and it’s kinda sad. There are so many crazy good things online if you’re willing to dig deeper for your references than the first 10 pictures in Google image search. Usually depending on the size and detail of the piece, I spend at least 4-5 hours just trying to find photos. I use photos for my drawings even if it’s not realism. It just makes more sense to me.

[SDIA] Who are some of your favorite active tattoo artists today?

[Dia Moeller] This is hard. There are so many, probably too many to list and they all influenced me in different ways. My all time favorites are: Chris Conn, Adriaan Machete, Jeff Gogue, Victor Portugal, Ryan Mason, Emily Rose Murray, mostly because their stuff was amongst the very first crazy impressive ones I’ve seen when I started actually researching good tattooers. They also have a very distinct style that I liked. Now I have so many poeple whose work I follow because you can just find them easier. Yay social media! I adore the guys I get to work with, the guys who taught me. I’m lucky to be in a shop where we have insanely talented guest artists with whom I’ve become friends. It’s easier if I just list a couple of the guys I follow on Instagram I think. So without even trying to get around everyone here they are: Camila Rocha, Rich Pineda, Nikko Hurtado, Josh Hagan, Carl Grace, Justin Hartman, Uncle Allen, Marcin A Surowiec, Alex De Pase, Dimitry Samohin, Boris, Wendy Pham, Ian McKnown, Josh Payne, Phil Garcia, Ken Dean, Paul Acker, Moni Marino, Xoil, Amanda Wachob, Simone Pfaff, Carlos Lopez, Horiyoshi III. Ok fine I’ll stop. There are still a lot more though. I’m kind of an online stalker.

[SDIA] Your pretty active on Instagram where you post either pictures of your work or your dog. We actually never asked this question before but what do you think of artists tattooing pets?

[Dia Moeller] Yes I am pretty active there I guess. I would never tattoo an animal though. There is no need, we have microchips and vets can put those in with way less trauma than a tattoo. Animals don’t care or understand tattoos. All they get out of the whole thing is that someone is hurting them on purpose. Plus I cried when my mom had to remove a tick from my cat. I felt so bad for him. I wouldn’t even be able to start a tattoo on an animal. I might be biased because he is my baby, but my doggy has the most handsome face ever, so I totally spam my Instagram feed with him. I got yelled at once because of it, apparently people are not interested in seeing my dog. Clearly, that won’t stop me. (laughs)

[SDIA] Are you planning on attending any conventions this year?

[Dia Moeller] I am actually not a big fan of conventions, it is a little too crazy for me. I usually attend the Boston Tattoo Convetion, partly because it is local but mostly because it is a really fun show and I always leave inspired by the other amazing artists there. I did work the Philadelphia Convention this year and it was a great learning experience. I think I’d do that one again. But this is pretty much it for this year.

[SDIA] Thanks so much for your time! Any final words?

[Dia Moeller] I am extremely lucky that I get to draw pretty pictures for people on them, and I hope I will be able to do it for the rest of my life. Also, if someone wants to read all this nonsense about art and unicorns, that is pretty cool too. So thank you for the opportunity.
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