Austin Tattooer Cora Mylene Talks Finding Her Confidence

As a realistic portrait artist that was comfortable putting pen to paper, Austin-based Cora Mylene had a challenging time transitioning to tattooing. After venturing to New York City to study photography, Mylene moved back to Texas, put her head down, and learned how to tattoo.

Now the 28-year-old tattooer, who works out of Art Realm Tattoo & Gallery, is making a name for herself in the Austin tattoo scene with her color-rich, neo traditional designs and sticker-like application.

Getting Started at Hub Tattoo

Mylene admits that she still feels new to the tattoo industry. It was just five years ago that she participated in an apprenticeship program with award winning local tattooer Michael Norris, who owned and operated Hub Tattoo in East Austin (he now works at a private studio in the city).

Mylene credits a big part of her burgeoning career to his teachings.

Nautilus tattoo by Cora Mylene

“Before I met him, I only drew realistic portraits and could not for the life of me come up with dynamic illustrations that would translate well as tattoos,” she says. “He broke me down and built me back up by giving me the tools to draw tattoo-able illustrations that would flow well with the body.”

Her tattoo apprenticeship took a year to complete, and since then, Mylene has been tattooing professionally full time. She says that in addition to teaching her the ropes, Norris also pushed her out of her comfort zone and encouraged her to interact with clients and meet new people.

Cora Mylene rabbit tattoo

“I was extremely shy back then, and he made me draw flash and go around town to every shop to try to sell my flash,” she says. “Though it was not always the easiest, learning under him has definitely worked for me as I seamlessly transitioned from apprentice to full-time tattooer.”

Honing in on Her Style

Over the past few years, Mylene has experimented with every different style of tattooing. Scrolling through her Instagram account, you’ll find intricate geometric blackwork, bold art nouveau pieces, and softly shaded black and grey realism.

Cora Mylene lady face tattoo
Cora Mylene collaboration with James Hall

But Mylene says that she plans to focus more on producing tattoos that fulfill her as an artist, including pieces that have an organic feel like animals, botanicals, and lady-head designs. “I have definitely tried a bunch of different styles in an effort to find which style is more for me,” she says. “I can now confidently say that I love tattooing in the neo-traditional style most.”

Feeling Positive Lady Tattooer Vibes

Out of the eight tattoo artists who work out of Art Realm, Mylene is the only female. But that distinction doesn’t bother her because she knows that producing good work earns respect. “What you put out into the world is what you will get back,” she says. “If you want to be taken seriously in this industry, you need to market yourself as a serious and professional tattooer.”

Cora Mylene lady face tattoo
Cora Mylene lady face tattoo

Mylene keeps her social media accounts and her website focused heavily on her tattooing and her artwork. She actively chooses to keep her life outside of tattooing offline. “I want clients to come see me for what I do professionally, not what I look like or how I live my personal life,” she says.

To give back and promote positivity for women, Mylene is planning to do charity tattoo events. She has one coming up on March 10th where she will be doing small tattoos for a flat rate. All proceeds will go towards the Austin-based organization called Girls Empowerment Network that helps young women and girls learn skills and gain knowledge through programs and events.

While she still believes that women are highly sexualized in the tattoo industry, Mylene sees a shift happening in Austin.

“I know that women are still a minority in this industry but I can definitely tell that this is rapidly changing,” she says. “I know of a couple of shops in Austin that are mostly run by women and that makes me super happy.”

Follow Cora Mylene on Instagram for more examples of her work.

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