My mate Melanie - By Laura Kebby / by Kian West

I’m a big fan of talented people doing talented things. Most of the time this revolves around sitting in dark corners of pubs watching artists effortlessly play guitar and tug at my heart strings with sad songs. But this kind of admiration also extends to a lot of local visual artists particularly to one of my favourite people - Melanie Mitchell.



            I’ve been wanting to do a write up on Mel’s work for a while, but I’ve been selfishly admiring her art from afar by passively hitting the share button every time her work pops up on my news feed, as well as relying on her to single handedly manufacture my entire wardrobe. But… I figured it’s about time I threw some payback her way. I met Mel probably a year ago, at a very sweaty ‘Against Me! gig with me, (of course) looking like a deer in headlights (or bear really) and Mel the ever stoic punk-souled individual wheretogether, the Jameson definitely got the better of both of us at the Cambridge Hotel. This turned into Sundays spent alphabetising records, talking all things music, art, live gigs, debating the importance of coriander in guacamole and hanging out in the garage turned studio of her Merewether apartment.  Really just me tagging along and simply and happily being in awe of my creative mate doing creative things.


            A tattooist by trade at ‘Diabolik’ on King, Mel spends the majority of her days “being the enemy of all parents” and inking people permanently with some really killer designs. With a super unique style its easy to see why the finished products are worn proudly, and continually flashed across social media platforms, most noticeably receiving a massive ‘YASSS’ from the Broad City Queens after a show-themed tatt hit the runways of Instagram. But it’s so much more than black and grey (and a dash of red) ink that make up the Rubik’s cube of creativity that is Melanie Mitchell. If being tattooed is not your jam, luckily for you, Mel is beginning to branch out to a seemingly infinite set of mediums enabling you to still get your art fix. On Mel’s website ( you can also find a whole bunch of cool wearable art with my personal favourite tee - “give me coffee or give me death” a real fan favourite amongst the hipster crowd.

            A passionate and extremely talented painter, now with the space to really dedicate to other mediums, Mel’s work is continuously changing and expanding and thankfully beginning to pop up everywhere. If you had a chance to read my piece on the local Gumball festival (no? read it here, I briefly mentioned the live art installation by Melanie and another incredible local artist - Indeah Clark where collectively, they were able to turn some runabout plywood into something spectacular. It filled me with this ever familiar second hand pride feeling, seeing punters and festival goers taking a well deserved mosh break to marvel at a different type of art on display. A recognition that is oh so important to every artist churning out bouts of spectacular creativity. Or maybe you’ve noticed the fitting homages Mel’s payed to rappers past and present through constant experimentation with digital media and design, which has resulted in some really incredible pieces, with one fan commenting “dude you should have your own art show”. And here is me seconding that notion, loudly and proudly.


            For those of you into health, you may have found yourself staring at the giant mandala at Inspirational Health in Lambton, the one thing that’s getting you through that crazy yoga session as you dog the downward and try not to pass out, for this you can thank Mel for. But, here’s the thing… it’s not just business owners that can take advantage of attempting to break the somewhat stale and beige mould found in the apparently ‘better homes and gardens’ of spawned suburbia. Commissioning artists to do great work is becoming increasingly more in vogue as fashion forward home owners are continuously on the hunt for something, or someone, to make their home stand out. A killer mural, print or artistic arrangement is really a stamp of killer individuality that hits you as you walk through the door.


            With every piece I write, I always try and encourage people to step out of the norm, slide left of that mainstream and really immerse yourself in the Newcastle independent art/culture scene. Get behind some local artists. Buy their stuff, get a killer tattoo, or hang some cool stuff on your walls. No one likes a Kmart catalogue house, or another run of the mill T-shirt. This generation is all about statement making, and individuality driven acknowledgment. And (if you’re one of those types), if nothing else, you can relish in the fact of being able to say “oh, you like it? It’s a one off piece, yeah Melanie Mitchell did that for me” *turn, hair flick, mic DROP. What I’m really trying to say is, art is important and talented people are amazing, and killer art, in any form is no longer this inaccessible outlet made just for people with a lot more than the pocket change you found in the back of the lounge last night. It’s art, in whatever medium that may be, that really gives a backbone to a city as wonderfully eclectic as Newcastle. Support them. Be a mate. And you do you.

You can find Mel’s work:

I’m sure she’d love to hear from you and collaborate on some cool things together.