A Glimpse Through Melise Hill’s Lens on the Tattoo Industry

Interview with Melise Hill
Read about the life and work of Melise Hill: Insights into the tattoo industry landscape, work-life balance, and how to manage social media as an artist

The art of tattooing is a dynamic world that is always changing, and it can be a challenge to keep up with the latest trends and practices. We had the pleasure of speaking with Melise Hill, a well-known tattoo artist from Canada.

We explored her journey to becoming a tattoo artist, how she came to her unique style, and shared her thoughts on working in the tattoo landscape. Get ready to discover the passion, challenges, and creativity that define Melise’s journey as a tattoo artist!

Meet Melise Hill!

elise Hill’s

Melise Hill is a Canadian tattoo artist, who currently lives and works in Detroit. Her journey in tattooing began in 2012, but now she is the owner of her private shop named “Yellow Phog.”

I enjoy the music of the 90s and 2000s, hip hop, and I also have a soft spot for various country genres. Lately, I’ve been inclined towards instrumental music when I need to focus. It might not be your typical tattoo shop soundtrack, but that’s what sets the vibe for me.

— Melise Hill to InkMatch

Reflecting on her lifestyle, Melise notes, “These days, I find my life pretty low-key. I used to travel extensively for work, exploring, and being outgoing. Perhaps it’s age or having a family at home, but things have mellowed out for me.”

Melise Background

Melise’s path to getting a tattoo was thorny and foggy, she didn’t think she would ever do it. “I didn’t really have a plan,” she admits. After she completed a degree in Fine Arts, she questioned herself on what to do next.

From her school experience, Melise shares, “After art school, I was at a bit of a crossroads, wondering what to do next. Without a clear plan, I found myself back in school, this time in Toronto. I studied special effects makeup for a year, but I really hated the program there… That was when I started thinking about tattoos.”

Examples of Melise Hill’s work, @melisehilltattoo on Instagram

The turning point for Melise was a meeting with a traditional tattoo artist who just happened to be dating her friend. Witnessing his work sparked a passion within her. She didn’t just want to become a tattoo artist — she wanted to develop her own unique style.

But for this to happen, Melise needed to dedicate a budget to acquire the necessary resources, and she wasn’t entirely sure if she was ready for such a commitment. “Back then, I did practice tattoos in my basement, but only for a month. After that, I became an apprentice, as it was supposed to be, so to speak,” she confessed to InkMatch.

Melise’s Artistic Style

Melise has become known for her proficiency in the neo-traditional style, drawing deep inspiration from Art Nouveau. “I was doing a lot of simple traditional American drawings at first. But I found out pretty quickly that my natural ability to draw involves a lot more detail, and simplifying it in that way was difficult.”

Her affinity for Art Nouveau can be linked to her love of drawing people, especially human faces.

It took me a while to pinpoint what I wanted to do and what I was good at. I was always drawn to color, probably because of that one traditional artist I was inspired by.

— Melise Hill to InkMatch

When asked about her key artistic influences, Melise highlighted two individuals: “My friend’s boyfriend, who was more of a traditional artist, and Matt Lambdin.” When she moved to the US from her home in Canada, Matt was working in the shop next to her.

Works of Kris Kani (first two, @kriskani) and Matt Lambdin (last two, @lambdin_), 

Perhaps it was fate because it was his work that made the biggest impact on Melise’s development as a tattoo artist, as she was finding her place in the industry. “I spent two years working under Kris Kani in Canada before making a move to the US. I’ve dedicated the last six years to my work as a part of the Ironclad Tattoo Co. just outside Detroit,” shares Melise.

A Short Tour Into What Is an Art Noveau Tattoo

A Short Tour Into What Is an Art Noveau Tattoo

Art Nouveau is a late 19th and early 20th-century art movement known for its organic forms, flowing lines, and vibrant colors, and has become a popular source of inspiration for unique and beautiful tattoos.

As Melise mentioned, she was drawn to color, despite the muted palette often associated with Art Nouveau. This highlights how artists can adapt and personalize styles to create their own unique interpretations.

To summarize, the style of Art Noveau is characterized by:

  • 🍂 Floral elements, like lilies, orchids, roses, and other tender flowers.
  • 🌻 Whiplash lines that create a sense of movement and grace in the tattoo design.
  • 🍂 Intricate details with various patterns, filigree, and delicate embellishments.
  • 🌻 Representations of feminine figures with flowing hair and graceful poses.
  • 🍂 Incorporating nature motifs with vines, leaves, butterflies, birds, etc.
  • 🌻 A soft and muted color palette, often featuring pastel shades.
  • 🍂 Ornamental elements, including swirling lines, abstract patterns, and geometric shapes.

Art Noveau in Melise Hill’s tattoos, @melisehilltattoo on Instagram

As Melise pointed out, “A few months into tattooing, I started leaning more towards an illustrative direction than just traditional. And then, I think, it probably took about six years before I truly felt that I had developed my own style.”

Melise Hill’s Tattoo Shop Experience

Melise Hill’s Tattoo Shop Experience

Our interviews with tattoo artists frequently address the issue of gender inequality in art. For Melise, however, this wasn’t a significant barrier in her career. She didn’t encounter any trouble in the business simply because she is a woman tattooist. From her words, her surroundings were more than welcoming and supportive.

It never crossed my mind that tattooing would be any different for me. That’s just always been my mindset about it. I didn’t know gender prejudice was a thing before people started questioning me about this.

— Melise Hill to InkMatch

Today, Melise Hill owns a private tattoo shop in Detroit named “Yellow Phog.” Her logo reminded our team of the sweet and warm yellow tea. But as Melissa herself said, “It’s a reference to a line in a poem by T. S. Eliot that I always liked.”

Based on the photos of her tattoo studio on her Instagram studio profile, Melise has put a lot of effort into creating a space that reflects her artistic style. Soft colors, abundant plants, warm yellow lighting, and stained-glass windows all contribute to a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.

Photos from Yellow Phog tattoo shop, @yellow.phog on Instagram

Melise has also shared with us a story about how she values thoughtful clients. “I really appreciate when clients take the time to research my work before reaching out,” Melise explained. “I’m happy to answer questions, so getting emails that say something like, ‘Hey, I read through all the information on your website. I just have one additional question.’ This shows me they’ve done their research and aren’t just contacting anyone.”

Tattoo Shops Before and Today

Tattoo shops have undergone a remarkable transformation in their brand positioning over time. In the past, it was more common for clients to walk into a shop with a pre-designed tattoo or choose from designs displayed on the walls. 

As Melise states, “You walk into a shop with your design, or you pick something off the wall, and an artist just tattoos it for you. It wasn’t like you’re presenting your artwork and then people come to you for your artwork.”

Melise Hill and her animal tattoos, @melisehilltattoo on Instagram

Today, however, there’s a growing trend of clients seeking out artists whose artistic style resonates with them. Some studios still follow the old-school method, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, now the world has changed so much that people don’t follow the art, they follow the artist. For this reason, it is important to be active on social media.

As Melise highlights, “A big part of it is finding an artist whose artistic style you like. I think first finding someone whose style aligns with your idea is important. And if there’s anything you’re unsure of going into the appointment, it’s always best to ask ahead of time rather than going in and just not knowing and maybe not being on the same page.”

If you are an aspiring tattoo artist who has been thinking about opening your own tattoo studio, check out our guide on how to open one.

Melise Hill on Work-Life Balance and Social Media

Melise Hill on Work-Life Balance and Social Media

“My Mondays are always off,” Melise explained. “I have full control over my hours and the projects and clients that I take on. But yeah, like, I love coming to work every day. I only work for three or four days a week, which is not that much. But even with my four-day weekend, I just want to come back to work.”

Melise also emphasizes the importance of unplugging: “I think it’s really important to be able to step away from tattoo-related things, to have other hobbies that are completely unrelated to tattooing, or spend time with someone who’s not in the industry.”

Earlier, we mentioned that the growing tattoo industry demands active social media, and Melise finds it the most challenging, especially with mastering new promotion techniques.

TikTok is probably the worst part of my job. I finally felt like I had a handle on Instagram after all these years, and now it’s like you need to be creating videos for Reels and TikTok on top of that. It’s just so much extra work to keep up with it all, and honestly, I hate it. I really need to hire someone to do that for me.

— Melise Hill to InkMatch

How Did COVID Impact Tattooers

One major change the COVID-19 pandemic made is a shift in general mindsets towards a YOLO mentality. This has led to an increase in both client demand and aspiring artists entering the industry.

“The pandemic definitely shifted people’s mindsets towards, you know, ‘Life is short, and if I want to do something, I’m just going to go ahead and do it’,” Melise explains. “So that means both clients who maybe wanted tattoos but were hesitant or had job restrictions… now they’re either less concerned or they work from home, so it doesn’t matter.”

But this change has affected not only people who dreamed of getting a tattoo but also those who dream of finding their way in the industry. Melise observes a rise in new talent:

“The pandemic pushed people who just weren’t happy with their jobs and always wanted to try something else, they just go for it. There’s more saturation of artists in the industry, but it’s also created all these different pockets and sub-genres, which is exciting.”

— Melise Hill to InkMatch


And that was it for our meeting with Melise Hill, owner of the “Yellow Phog” private tattoo shop. Through her vibrant neo-traditional tattoos and welcoming studio, Melise Hill has not only carved a path for herself but also fostered a safe space for self-expression and harmony with her clients.

Melise’s story manifests the power of passion, dedication, and the beauty of Art Noveau in tattoos. We hope that you found her story insightful and inspiring for exploring your own creative path. 


⌛️ How Many Hours a Day Does a Tattoo Artist Work?

Tattoo artists’ work hours vary depending on their experience, clientele, studio setup, and personal preferences. Some work full-time hours (around 40 hours a week), while others work part-time or freelance.

⚖️ How Tattoo Artists Can Achieve Work-Life Balance?

Remember: no one chooses to be an artist on demand, any artist’s project is a passion project. Set boundaries, schedule breaks, and take time off to recharge and ensure a healthy balance outside of work.

📱 What’s the Hardest Part of Being a Tattoo Artist?

Many tattoo artists describe social media as feeling like a second full-time job with a ton of workload. Ideally, they’d love to have the budget to hire someone specifically to manage their social media profiles.

🎨 How Can I Find a Tattoo Artist Whose Style Aligns With My Vision?

On InkMatch, you can browse a catalog of tattoo artists from around the world. Browse their work before scheduling an appointment to ensure their style aligns with your vision. And through our tattoo gallery, you can find masterpieces and discover the artists who stand behind them.


Was this article helpful?

Stay Tuned

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive new guides, ideas, and useful tips for tattoo artists and fans first.

You may also enjoy these articles: