First published on 8 Jul 2012. Updated on 1 May 2013.
Gone are the days when tattoos were the indelible – okay, the only – memories left from a wild night on the town. Rather, the getting of ink now requires chin-stroking deliberation. Pavements are pounded from parlour to parlour – paramount importance is an artist who “gets my concept, y’know?" So allow Time Out to match the artist to the concept.
Where can I get a...
Wait no longer – the unconventional kids at Third Eye in North Fitzroy welcome walk-ins! Like that time Vanilla Ice signed my ex’s leg and he urgently needed it permanent. Luckily Vanilla (Mr Ice?) wasn’t inclined to sketch his face – but actually, realistic portraits are a specialty here too.
She’s done a decade of inking in Moonee Ponds, but local girl Clare of Soul Inn House is a lady of the world. Starting out in Hawaii, she’s carved her way around the globe, even studying indigenous tattoo to develop her beautifully delicate Oriental style.
See also: Ten-Ten Tattoo, 887 Burke Rd, Camberwell. Dynamic Tattoo, 71 Swan St, Richmond.
If you want a beautiful lady to carry around with you for the rest of time, surely you’d want a beautiful lady to put her there? NZ lass Rose Hardy’s bright back catalogue is a catwalk of perfect peepers, fluttering eyelashes and banging behinds. She’s one of eight artists at the 20-year-old Chapel Street inkstitution.
If your tribe is of the tribal kind, Kiwi Shane at Chapel Tattoo in Prahran could well be the chief. At the very least, he’s a master of all things Ta Moko (Maori), Kirituhi (Maori-inspired), Polynesian and Japanese tattooing. He inks free-hand, so no two of the intricate sleeve and full body designs are the same.
There’s not much that screams “knuckle tattoos” more than “true hate”. Ten-year veteran AJ of True Hate Tattoo takes traditional flash concepts and adds some fancy. His bright designs and old-school lettering are winning Collingwood’s hipster heart.
See also: The Sweet Life Tattoo Shop, 459 High St, Northcote.
It was close to a century back that Californian Sailor Jerry docked in Hawaii and started pioneering the simple, ship-friendly designs that adorn sailors the world over. The tradition, steeped in swallows, skulls and bare-breasted ladies, now continues in another port – Newport, that is. Put some Devil's Ink on your bicep.
This Gertrude Street shop-front may well have been the first cool store on the ultra-hip strip. Now with six artists, and waiting times from a month and up to two years, demand hasn’t slowed for Tattoo Magic's comprehensive consultations, and inspired art across the genres.
See also: Fox Body Art, 44 Smith St, Collingwood.
Nadina is the new kid on a clean-skin block – in the traditional heartland of trolley-wielding grannies; Ormond. Her fine art background delivers beautiful lines, pretty symmetry, and Nouveau stylings – and she’s opened her own stylish pad, Cherry Bomb, to escape the heavy metal, tough talk of traditional ink joints.
If you like your ink with a side of road-tripping, point the car towards the coast, Seaford to be precise. Jen and Jed are 14 years in the game, and a Day of the Dead trip through Mexico left Jen inspired, and with a cool back-catalogue of the popular sugar skulls – they’re a handy fit with her bright, bold Hellbound style.
Artist Ran Maclurkin proudly claims he started tattooing on 6/6/06 – and his unconventional work (pictured) definitely leans towards the demonic. Ran’s dark designs conjure a Tim Burton feel, and his new Sunbury space, Ruin Art Collective, is also a gallery.