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at Good Luck Tattoo Melbourne
Photograph: Graham Denholm

The best tattoo parlours in Melbourne

The wise journeymen and women of ink know that doing their homework is prudent

Adena Maier
Written by
Jenny Valentish
&
Adena Maier
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In recent years, tattoos have become increasingly common, with people from all walks of life investing in the art. But it’s as important as ever to take the time to investigate the many parlours and artists that are around to discover which ones suit your unique tastes and needs. Here, we take a look at some of Melbourne’s best tattoo shops and some of the inspiration behind the work. 

Appreciate good art? Take a gander at our guide to the best street art in Melbourne

Melbourne's best tattoo parlours

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  • Melbourne

You don’t get much more central Melbourne than Hardware Lane, but the décor of Blue Lady Tattoo is all New York loft. Tattooist Mike Tea’s personal style is "party tropical/traditional”, and his team covers a range of styles including neo trad, tropical and blackwork. Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also schedule a consultation if you're seeking custom work. Tea says Blue Lady's dream client is “a person who understands tattoos and their strengths and limitations… We enjoy a chat with our clients."

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  • Windsor

Co-founder Andrew McLeod describes the shop, which was established in 1994, as having “a classic street shop” style. It’s so popular that while artists will make time for walk-ins, there’s often a six-week wait for custom work. There are currently 11 artists, and while most of them specialise in traditional, McLeod says the shop prides itself on versatility. "Everyone at the shop is pretty much able to handle anything that walks in the door, from classic to black and grey, tribal, watercolour, you name it," says McLeod. 

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  • Kensington

Welcome to Melbourne’s first queer-owned tattoo studio, est. 2015. It’s a safe space where everyone can feel comfortable regardless of their gender, sexuality and race, and it’s wheelchair and walker accessible. The tattoo process can even be made vegan. As artist and founder Zero says, “The shop is cosy and filled with natural light, old botanical art prints, dried flowers and driftwood.” In terms of style, you'll find artists with skillsets that range from contemporary line-based tattoos, abstract pieces, traditional, colour realism and more. 

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  • Richmond

Trevor McStay set up Dynamic Tattoo in 1991, and it’s the essence of a timeless tattoo studio. It’s his love of Japanese style – also favoured by Daryl Lasken and Joel Ang – that dominates; however, artists Zach Hart and Shane Wilcox excel at American trad tattooists. The group of artists have several decades worth of experience between them, so you can rest assured that you're in good hands. 

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  • Cremorne

Good Luck is very much an old-school street shop – a simple, rectangular space with a communal feel ready for walk-ins. There’s no overarching tattooing style here, and the artists specialise in everything from modern abstract and traditional to Japanese and blackwork. Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also book in for a free design consultation before booking your appointment. 

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  • Coburg

The vibe of Hot Copper, says tattooist Clare Hampshire, is “tropical greenhouse meets Scandinavian kitsch” – and you can find that out for yourself if you book an appointment. Hampshire specialises in “post-modern Tropicana” – think palm trees, cocktails and flamingos. You can pick from a variety of artists including Kat Weir, whose style could be described as “pop culture glitterbomb”, and Amanda Brooks, who offers a “traditional Kawaii mishmash”.

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  • Melbourne

Opened in 2013 by Zoe and Matt Wisdom, Melbourne Tattoo Co sits above the Captains of Industry café. It’s “a little sneaky”, according to Zoe. “You have to come up a dark stairwell. It means people don’t wander in for a sticky beak, ask 27 questions and walk off.” Don’t worry, though – genuine customers are made at home the moment they walk into the warehouse space, with its window seat and skateboards on the walls. The team welcome walk-ins, and they are rapt if someone picks the flash they’ve spent hours painting.

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  • North Melbourne

Vic Market Tattoo, says Wade Johnston, is “an homage to the past and the 25-year history of the shop. There’s lots of tattoo flash and beautifully kept wooden furniture.” Johnston, who also has his own machine line, describes himself as “a jack of all trades, starting with neo-traditional and lettering tattoos”. Among his team are Pablo Morte, a "resident expert at black and grey and religious tattoos”; Chris Jones, a specialist of dot-work and geometric tattoos; Lachie Grenfell, who “takes many references from the true greats of traditional Western tattooing”; and Kane Berry, who’s “all about super-clean, super-bold and, quite often, super-cute tattoos". 

Celebrate your bravery afterwards

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