Glenferrie: Tattoo Hotspot
Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Tattooing is an ancient art form that involves scaring the skin with colour pigments to create words or images. An indigenous practice used as a rite of passage or a symbol of wealth and status, in the 17th century, western explorers returned home with stories of tattooed people. This practice became popular amongst sailors and for a long-time was associated with the lower class, criminals, and even travelling circus acts. Since the tattoo renaissance in the 20th century, which saw the invention of the electric tattooing machine, the stigma surrounding tattoos has been dismantled. They are now a mainstream part of western art and fashion, serving as expressions of the avant-garde, individuality, and a rising counterculture.
Tattoo studios in Melbourne are plentiful, and must follow strict industry guidelines in Victoria to ensure the health and safety of both tattoo artists and clients. This includes regular sanitation, single use needles, and proper after-care instructions.
To become a tattoo artist, one must find a willing mentor and undergo a rigorous apprenticeship. Artists must be incredibly skilled drawers and often specialise in a certain style of tattooing.
JOPOMBC - 759 Glenferrie Road
February 2021 saw the start of JOPOMBC, bringing six more permanent tattooists as well as guest artists and apprentices to Glenferrie Road.
Jeremiah’s first studio was demolished last year. Around the same time and during lockdown, he and his wife welcomed their first child and moved to Hawthorn. “We were walking down Glenferrie Road holding hands. It was super busy, and all of the shops were very high quality. But during COVID, so many were for lease.” They were dialling the offices of agents on ‘For Lease’ signs when they came across 759 Glenferrie Road. “We made a decision that day, and we were here within two weeks.”
Jeremiah was just as surprised as other tattoo traders to discover other studios had opened, but not concerned. “We just want to focus on providing our customers with the best possible tattoos”, specialising in fine-line, Japanese-style, floral, and graphic anime and manga tattoo designs. Jeremiah prides himself on his clean and minimalist studio, striving always to make every client feel as comfortable as they would in their own living room.
Ravens Hollow - Basement, 823 Glenferrie Road
Ravens Hollow opened in their basement studio in September 2019. Owner Kristian loves the “really theatrical, fully immersive experience descending down here”. They will soon be expanding to street-level at 821 Glenferrie Road. Their new space will allow them to accommodate more artists, appointments, and availability for walk-ins. Kristian explained that tattoo traders are “not dependent on foot traffic as each artist has their own clientele, so the business is as good as the artists are busy”.
Clients come in from all over the country, predominantly thanks to social media and word- of-mouth. Offering a versatile range of realist, surrealist, freehand romanticist, trash polka, and Japanese and American traditional styles, Kristian prides himself on Ravens Hollow's artists, the quality of their work, and the values they hold. With two other resident artists and long-time friends, regular guest artists, and a young local apprentice, Kristian preferences personality over portfolio to “provide an unintimidating, friendly, and comfortable environment for people who might be new to tattooing”.
Inkache Tattoo - 647 Glenferrie Road
After 15 years as a visual artist and five years tattooing, Fiona opened Inkache Tattoo in January 2021 on Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn because she sees it as a good area that is “very safe, and ... a really busy street”. Nestled underneath the railway bridge, she appreciates the proximity to Swinburne University and the convenience of public transport for clients, taking advantage of the “great street-level promotion” by showcasing their artists’ “really beautiful” work in the window.
Inkache Tattoo's three other formally-trained artists are close friends of Fiona, and primarily design in the styles of realism, oriental, watercolour, and one artist specialising in the American traditional style. While most of their clients find individual artists on Instagram and book by appointment, Inkache Tattoo still welcomes walk-ins who can choose from their ready-to-tattoo ‘flash’ designs. Whatever the client wants, Fiona works to maintain a “really friendly and professional environment”, providing good quality tattoos alongside her friends.
Seven Saints Tattoo - 615 Glenferrie Road
Alchemy Tattoo Studio was located at 615 Glenferrie Road from 2014 until their relocation to Camberwell. Their former apprentice Luke then took over the space in February 2021 to start his own studio, Seven Saints Tattoo. “It was coming home for me. I started here,” he said. “To come back here three years later to run it myself is just amazing.”
Luke has four permanent artists who operate as sole traders on commission, currently training their own local apprentice. Each tattoo is custom-designed for individual clients and tattooed by appointment only, with many clients travelling from interstate for services of Seven Saints Tattoo's artists after discovering them on social media.
While Seven Saints Tattoo specialises in dot work, bold black, and realism, they also keep up with current trends such as botanical and floral fine-line designs, prioritising “versatility”. Greeting you at the door with a beverage, Luke strives to welcome every client and give them a “rockstar experience”, because it is “their day”.