Though she was born and raised in the Valley, Miranda Lorberer has tattooed everywhere from Manhattan to Maui. “I have a lot of friends who live all over, and after I graduated high school, I liked to move around a lot,” she says. Her journey has fine-tuned her eye to telling details and inspired a reverence for nature. For more than eight years, Lorberer was the force behind the now closed Pop’s Tattoo Emporium in Kingston. Located off the beaten path in a commercial strip mall on the outskirts of town, the business consistently drew customers from all over thanks to its strong reputation. These days, Lorberer continues to craft unique body art on request.
Hometown: Ruby (just outside of Kingston)
Who was Pop? I named it for my dad. He was an old biker who had tattoos, restored cars, and made knives from scratch. There was always a stack of tattoo magazines in the bathroom.
First tattoo: I got some Celtic knot work on my back. That imagery was rolling around in my head for a while. It was the mid ’90s and tribal-Celtic was pretty big. I was 17. My parents took me to Jersey to get it. You had to be 18 in New York.
Latest tattoo: Bleeding hearts on my leg. It’s a work in progress. I had to stop because it is not recommended to get a tattoo while you’re pregnant, and I’m due with my second in October. My boyfriend and I have been together forever and we already have a three-year-old daughter.
Why she loves it: You get to be yourself, you get to meet people, every day is different. And even if you work for someone else, you’re still kind of your own boss. You can do it anywhere.
Great adventure: Right after I graduated from Kingston High School, I went cross-country on a Greyhound bus. You could get an $80 bus ticket and you could go anywhere, and it was good for three months. I wound up in Oregon, got a job at a tattoo shop as a receptionist, and eventually worked my way in and got an apprenticeship.
Change of plans: Around 2000, I moved back east and lived in Brooklyn. I worked in a café and in a tattoo shop, and built up my chops that way. It was owned by a woman. At that point, there weren’t that many shops in the city because tattooing had only been legal since 1997.
Paradise found: A friend who initially taught me to tattoo called me out of nowhere and asked me to come to Maui and work at a shop. Even though it’s a tropical paradise, it gets old fast unless you are totally obsessed with surfing or diving. It’s almost like Groundhog Day, the weather doesn’t really change.
Hometown girl at heart: I remember when I left, I was like “I’m never going to live here ever again,” but then I lived away for 10 years and I realized I kind of liked it. I especially love the Hudson Valley because you’re close to everything: New York City, Boston, the ocean, the mountains. It’s nice, the variety. And I like the people here.
Her specialty: Partially because of Maui, I’ve gotten really good at orchids, plumeria flowers, hibiscus, birds, and turtles. I do a little bit of everything.
Taboo tattoos: I don’t really do portraits, like of your grandmother or your child. I don’t do realism.
Latest challenge: Last October I worked at Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn for their first P.ink Day. They matched up 10 breast cancer survivors with 10 tattooers. That was really challenging just because it was crazy emotional for everybody.