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Tattoo Industry is Transforming: A Melbourne Tattooist’s Perspective

Tattoo Industry Transformation

I have been working as a tattoo artist for 21 years, predominantly in Melbourne.

I have worked in all aspects of the business – as an apprentice; in large ‘parlours’; in a more intimate shop setting (that I owned and managed) and now in a private tattoo studio.

At the beginning of my career, I learnt the art of tattooing from the world’s-best tattoo artists. Having studied a BA in Visual Arts, I had – and still retain – a great passion for the art of tattooing. I have always applied the knowledge I gained from traditional art forms such as drawing and painting (and most recently lead lighting)

As a tattooist, I focus on the pursuit of achieving the finest detail that can be delicately applied to the skin – in its varying forms. Ultimately, I am to create a landscape of the highest quality.

Having the opportunity to create artwork on the human body is – to me – a great gift. To be given the opportunity to create and transform an idea into a tattoo masterpiece on someone’s body, where – presumably – it would remain forevermore has always been an honour.

In my career I began creating large tattoo pieces – full sleeves, full backs, chest and full sleeves; full legs; half legs and so on. My clients who choose large scale tattoos always come to me with a significant story in mind. They have purpose, meaning and symbolism that they want pieced together to tell a story that is very meaningful to them. Others just want beautiful images on their bodies.

Large scale tattoos, comprising great meaning, cannot be rushed!

Hannya mask back tattoo
Hannyamask Chest Tattoo
Hannyamask Chest Tattoo
Tibetan Back Tattoo
Tibetan Back Tattoo

Large pieces take a series of full days to complete. There are hours upon hours of work in sketching, stencilling and then tattooing these large pieces and they require a significant commitment from my clients. These clients know up front that work will need to be broken up and they willingly slot tattoo bookings into their calendar. Over the years, a lot of my clients have travelled interstate, sometimes overseas, to book these large pieces in with me.

Tattoo times are changing. It’s clear that people have become more budget focussed. Perhaps budgets are tighter and the luxury of getting a tattoo, or at least a large tattoo, is being put on hold.

There is less demand for larger pieces and significant growth in smaller, custom pieces and often in black and grayscale tones. I’m not the only tattoo artist in Melbourne to be noticing this change – it is certainly Melbourne and Australia wide.

So, what is a seasoned, tattoo artist with international training to do in this transforming tattoo climate?

Get on board of course!

In between the large-scale tattoos, I discussed above, I have also had the pleasure of completing a lot of smaller pieces. I have worked with many clients who have come to me specifically for a cover-up of a scar, stretch marks or unwanted tattoos and we have produced some amazing results that made a great difference to the client’s self-esteem.

I would love to do a lot more smaller pieces in the future. These tattoos are relatively easy to produce, require less commitment from my clients and are also budget friendly.

As I operate from a private studio, I can offer my clients a great deal of discretion while their tattoo work is being completed. Having worked in busy parlours, I am aware that it can often be uncomfortable for clients who are revealing their body while being tattooed. The private studio setting allows my clients to feel a great deal more relaxed and can enjoy the experience in a highly sanitised and peaceful setting.

If you haven’t followed me on Facebook or Instagram, jump on and take a look at some of my smaller tattoo pieces and the detail of some large pieces that can be modified to suit any smaller design.

I hope to put a lot more of my smaller tattoos up on the web gallery in the coming months so stay tuned.

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Clare Keton attends Inaugural Footscray Night Market

Clare Keton – a renowned Melbourne tattoo artist – runs a successful tattoo studio in Melbourne’s west. Clare offers high quality custom-designed tattoos for clients travelling far and wide.

While juggling her busy studio with other art commitments as well as raising her young daughter, Clare found setting up her own studio to be a significant career milestone.

“It was a natural career progression when I decided to go out on my own”, Clare explains. “I’ve travelled the world to build my tattooing knowledge. I’ve worked in some amazing locations, but setting up base in Footscray has been very rewarding”.

“The area itself is so diverse and there is a real buzz about Melbourne’s west. The close proximity we have to the CBD is also a great advantage for clients on the other side of town or those interstate.

“I have trained with some of the world’s best artists, but there is something personally rewarding about setting up your own studio and building your own brand”.

“Starting my business in Footscray has allowed me to establish a better work/life balance. I am able to pursue my passion while spending time with my young family.

“I also have full control over the tattooing experience for my clients. I’ve designed a studio space that is calm and serene and very private.”

“The western suburbs community has made me feel very welcome and have been great supporters of my business.”

Clare will be attendeding the Footscray night market which will be held every Thursday night in November. Clare will be present during each of the markets to showcase her tattoo work and talk to the public about tattoo designs and inspirations.

While she won’t be tattooing during the market, locals can make appointments at her studio.

“I am excited about being part of the market. So many exciting initiatives are being driven from the western suburbs at the moment and the rest of Melbourne needs to know about them”, Clare explained.

“The night market is perfect timing for me. I’ve had a really busy year and now I am planning for 2017. I tattoo by appointment only. So it’s really important that customers book in advance.

“I am looking forward to meeting some locals at the market and would love to welcome them back to my studio”, Clare explained.

Clare Keton is a female tattoo artists based in Melbourne’s western suburbs. To make an appointment with Clare, please find her contact details below.

Clare Keton Tattoos
FB: @ClareKetonTattoos


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New work – Tibetan back tattoo


I recently completed this back tattoo, a Tibetan inspired piece with peony and lotus flowers, waves, clouds and the Himalaya Mountains!  Healed photos to come!


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Work in progress – dragon Koi tattoo


Another session completed on this dragon Koi tattoo that wraps over the client’s shoulder and down the back, progressing well!


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Hannya mask back tattoo

Hannya mask back tattoo

A full half back Hannya mask tattoo with maple leaves I recently completed, thanks Sid!

Detail of Hannya mask back tattoo





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Back in the studio!


I’ve had an awesome break and happy to be back in the studio!  I’ve only got a few days available for the remainder of 2016 and taking bookings for 2017.  Please contact me with your tattoo ideas!


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New work – full sleeve tattoo


New work!  A full sleeve completed. An eagle, Zeus, Pantheon with roses and maple leaves!

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WIP – Warrior sleeve tattoo

Another large sleeve tattoo that I’m currently working on, looking forward to the next session!

Work in progress - warrior sleeve tattoo

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Last minute availability!

Hi!  I’m back in the studio and excited to get back to work, I’ve had a tattoo session rescheduled so I now have August 29th available.  There’s only a few dates left for the year so get in touch quick!  **EDIT – NOW BOOKED**


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New work – Hannya mask with oriental sleeve tattoo

Hannya mask chest plate and Sakura, Koi and Lotus sleeve

I recently completed this oriental chest plate and sleeve tattoo with Sakura (cherry blossoms), Koi, Lotus flower and Hannya mask.  Here are a few photos from our final session!