For local tattoo artist Caity Harper, art has always been a part of her life. In high school, she dabbled in ceramics, sewing, drawing, and digital art.
"I've always felt different from those around me, and art is how I have coped, always drawing on every piece of paper I could. I felt it was the one thing I was good at."
When she turned 14, her interest moved toward tattooing.
"My dad knew the owner of Texarkana Ink, and I spoke with him about my interest in becoming a tattoo artist." As time moved on, the idea of being a tattoo artist took a back seat as she finished school.
In Spring of 2018, Caity graduated from high school and enrolled in Texarkana College to become an art teacher. She went through the motions of earning her associate's degree and was set to start at Texas A&M but felt something was not right.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, her career interests started to change, and she became serious about becoming a tattoo artist.
"I bought a lot of my equipment during the pandemic."
She started practicing on family and friends, and in March 2022, she started her apprenticeship with Dalton Humphrey at Dermagraphic Studio in Texarkana, Texas. Seven months later, she finally achieved her goal of becoming a tattoo artist in her own right.
Caity has been at Dermagraphic for more than a year now and feels being a tattoo artist has transformed her as a person.
"I love the independence, I love that I can express myself, and I've connected with a lot of awesome people."
Caity loves the connection she now has with so many people; she feels she belongs.
"I feel there is a little community around me now. I love it. Connecting and expression are two of my favorite things."
Not only does she feel a strong sense of community with clients, she does with her social media presence as well.
"I feel things have taken off because of people sharing my stuff. It's a great little community of locals who share my work, and I share theirs." Caity will forever be grateful for those who take an interest in what she does and feels that the career she chose is the one she was supposed to do.
During such a dark time during the pandemic, Caity found the path she was supposed to take in life. "I feel like it was a circle moment. Being 14 and going to a tattoo shop and seeing how it was, forgetting about it, and then coming back almost 10 years later." Things have come full circle.
In the next few years, Caity hopes to relocate to a bigger city and open her own private studio. In the meantime, she is going to keep pursuing an art she feels changed her life for the better.
Caity is at Dermagraphic Studio at 911 New Boston Road. Their days and hours of operation are Monday through Sunday, noon to 9pm. They can be reached at 903-793-2276 or online at www.facebook.com/DermagraphicStudio.
In addition to being a writer, lifelong Texarkana resident Nicci McCarty is a photographer, songwriter and musician. She performs both solo and with her band, Brain Panic.