Artist Highlight: Mel Moulash

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Mel Moulash is an up-and-coming baby tattooist from East London. Tattooing full time for only five months she's been experimenting with abstract lines and body contour designs along with illustrations of African women from the artworks of her childhood. 

How long have you been tattooing for?

I’ve been tattooing full time now for 5 months, so I’m actually quite new to it all!

When was it you discovered you wanted to become a tattoo artists?

I’ve always been an arty person, really fuelled by creativity and anything artistically experimental. I’ve also always really loved tattoos but I’d never considered that I could be a tattoo artist. In retrospect I think it's due to a lack of representation and general gatekeeping in the industry. So during lockdown I did a lot of reflecting on my life, as well as doing a lot of drawing & painting. I had a light bulb moment one day and realised that all amazing tattoo artists are literally just humans who at one point knew nothing about tattooing either- so thought I may as well try!

How would you describe your style of artwork?

There are 2 main styles that I find myself really gravitating to recently. I absolutely love large abstract pieces, I like my abstract work to have an organic flowing style to it. I get really excited by big scale, body contouring tattoos.
I also design a lot of dancing female figures that are specifically aimed for POC. As well as representing freedom and femininity, they’re also directly influenced by afro/Caribbean cultures. I draw a lot of inspiration from the nostalgia of growing up and seeing similar art styles in my families homes. I have a real special relationship with these pieces as I’ve made so many beautiful connections with my clients, discussing how they bring them similar feelings of warmth and nostalgia. This really is all I could ever ask for from my art. I intend for these to be designs that POC can claim as their own as a way of battling our underrepresentation in the tattoo industry.

How did you learn to tattoo?

As soon as I set my sights on tattooing, I bought a machine and would tattoo myself whenever I had the time. I eventually got an apprenticeship and practiced on any friends who would let me! I was lucky enough to have the best teacher I could have imagined. Not only did I learn to tattoo from an amazing person & artist (@eternal________________) but I greatly appreciate the values that he passed on to me about tattooing etiquette. He gave me such a good understanding of the art of tattooing & the approach that tattooing is so so much more than just a clinical business transaction; It’s an exchange of experiences, a creative ritual with a rich cultural background and something to be highly respected and never taken for granted!

Do you tattoo in any other styles or do you prefer to stick to what you enjoy doing?

I really want to explore abstract, freehand pieces more- for me they’re the perfect artistic expression! Currently I do mostly line work and solid black but recently have been tempted to experiment with more shading- so maybe that shall be my next adventure!

Do you think there is a lack of representation of POC in the tattooing industry?

There absolutely is a lack of representation of POC in the tattooing industry! As I mentioned earlier I really feel that this is a reason I didn’t try tattooing sooner. It's very heavily a white male industry and it's hard to find a space to feel part of the wider community as a brown woman. I really cant stress enough how important it is for tattoo artists to show a range of skin colours in their portfolios. It's incredibly disheartening and unwelcoming to see artists’ feeds with only white skin on them. I don’t think tattoo artists realise how seriously outcast this can make people of colour feel, and how common it is to see feeds with absolutely no cultural diversity. Its our responsibility to make our work and our spaces welcoming to everyone one- every race, gender, sexuality, age, cultural background etc.

Do you travel a lot with your work?

I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to travel so soon in on my tattooing journey! I’m sooo excited to be doing guest spots in Brighton, Paris and Berlin later this year.

Where would be your dream guest spot?

One of my guest spot goals is Berlin, where i’ll actually be tattooing this august!
I also regularly dream of tattooing in the Caribbean and Mexico as well, so hopefully one day I’ll be able to do that.

Outside of tattooing what do you enjoy doing?

I love nature and swimming and spending time outdoors. I love charity shopping and eating cakes and spending as much time as I can with my dog. But admittedly- 80% of my time I’m tattooing, booking tattoos, drawing designs or thinking about tattooing. And I wouldn’t have it any other way

Any big goals for the rest of 2022?

I have a really busy, work focused year ahead- my only goals are to enjoy myself, to take in every moment and never take my amazing job for granted.