Ebony Mellowship – Artist Profile
Photos & Words by Mark Boskell
Ebony Mellowship. Painter and Tattoo Artist.
I met Ebony last week in the lead up to a local art exhibition, The Ship Has Sailed, put together by the crew at Artful Ink. I hung out at the tattoo studio for a few pics of Ebony at work, and then caught up with her again in the final rush to finish a painting for the exhibition that night. Held at the old Fruit & Veg on Station Rd, it was a big night for all the artists and punters. For Ebony it was a great success with all her original paintings selling in the first hour.
Read the interview with Ebony below…
I read on your bio about your comic store and music store background. Can you tell me something about this and how it influences what you do now?
The main influence is my dad. When I was a kid, I grew up in qld, and my parents they owned a comic book shop. My dad is an artist and a writer and he’s just incredible. He always influenced me and encouraged me to do stuff. He used to give me a lot of comics and make me draw out the pictures. So I used to draw out full comics exactly how they were. That’s how I copied it and learnt. I don’t do that style now, it’s heaps different, but it’s where I started with my artistic passion. And then music, that’s when I started getting tattooed, because all the bands I listened to had tattoos. I think the first 5 tattoos I got were all band tattoos. I worked there for a good 4 or 5 years, saw a lot of bands and was encouraged to express myself with piercings and tattoos by my bosses. They were really ok with it.
And how did you get into tattooing?
Well because of the music I listened to and seeing people with tattoos. I started buying tattoo magazines. My dad and my mum have a couple, not many. I went and saw them get tattooed when I was about 6 and it was always something that stayed with me. When I was about 16 or 17, I was drawing a lot, and I started changing my style to suit more tattoo style, like the traditional style of tattooing, Sailor Jerry kind of themes and then just drew for ages. I applied for apprenticeships at different places but it was hard to find anyone to take me on. That’s when I moved down to Margaret River. I had a few friends down here getting tattoos and there was a sign in the window saying they were looking for an apprentice, so I put my portfolio together and applied.
And now, after a few years, you’re moving on? What’s next?
Yeah, I love the guys I work with and I like working here. I love this town, and I do call it home, but I feel like I’ve learnt as much as I can here as we all work so closely. I need to progress, and be inspired by different things and different people, so I just need to go somewhere else and make that change. I want to further my career, and just be better. You can always be better. I’m learning every day. I’m going to be doing guest spots. I’m not really looking for anywhere permanent just yet, until I know where I want to be. I’m not going to settle just for any shop because they’ll have me. I want to keep working in different places until I find where I think I’ll fit in, where I’ll be motivated and inspired.
Do you have a favourite tattoo that you’ve done?
I’ve done quite a few lately that I’m really proud of. Probably one of my personal favourites I did on Jonika, who works here, which is like an Alice in Wonderland inspired piece. Just because it was quite challenging. I had to tattoo skin tone. I mixed my own skin tone, and I’d never done that before. It was a huge piece, it took 7 hours and we did it in one go. It was like an emotional rollercoaster, we used a bit of numbing cream and finished about midnight, and we were delirious by the end of it. It was such an epic session. It’s healed really nicely and being able to watch it heal. (Laughs) She’s got that really soft ‘ranger’ skin so it takes a while to heal. It was such a fun piece to draw as well.
So who’s toughest – the men or the women?
Women. For sure. I think they have a higher pain threshold. I don’t know what it is. Soemone told me it’s because girls have more layers of fat so they’re tougher, but I never say that. When you count how many people have passed out and thrown up, it’s mostly men. Women sit longer too.
The exhibition the other night was the first of your paintings? How did it go?
It was awesome. I was so nervous about it. I was so stressed out as I was trying to finish a painting that day. It was great, lots of really good feedback, sold quite a few and got some pre-orders for prints. I’m stoked with how it went. It couldn’t have gone better for my first showing. Lots of support in this town, and I had a lot of friends come down.
Any future plans with your painting?
Yeah well I paint all the time. If I’m not tattooing I’m drawing, or I’m painting. I’ve started a few new ones already. I always say the paintings are like a Simpsons episode – they start one way and always end up another. You start a painting and it never ends up how I want it to look. It’s a learning curve, every painting. I want to do more big pieces, but they take so long. I want to give myself more time, spread it out, and not get so stressed out over it.
Thanks very much and all the best.
(And big thanks to Jackson Bonfield for letting me shoot whilst he got a tat).