“I dilute my tattoo inks to get a watercolour paint effect and the actual painting takes two hours. At moment, I’m doing around six paintings a week.”

Menga wasn’t the only tattoo artists who was left with an indefinite future when the coronavirus pandemic saw studios shut down.

Melbourne tattoo artist Emma Dodd, who has worked in the industry for 10 years, said pet portraits had helped cover her daily living experiences including groceries and energy bills.

“So far, I have done seven portraits with two more currently on the go and a list of commissions I’m chipping away at,” Dodd said.

“Some of the portraits have been commissioned for birthdays or Mother’s Day gifts. It has been good to work to those deadlines, which enables a sense of normalcy in this time of isolation.”

Dodd’s clients have included friends and her and some new clients referred through word of mouth.

“As I’ve been completing the artworks and posting them on social media, I have been getting more requests. Each portrait, based on a photo supplied by the client, takes me 10 hours or more to complete, then I have it printed as a high quality art print to send to the client.”

Another Melbourne tattoo artist, Jake Fraser, said he has a “unique” approach to pet portraits with his neo-traditional style influenced by surf, skate and punk roots.

“I put the feelers out on social media as soon as the studio closed that I’m open to do commissioned paintings,” Fraser said.

Distinctly different from Fraser’s style, Eloise Entraigues has specialised in fine line tattoos for eight years. Her delicate work translates as realistic illustrations of dogs and cats surrounded by floral blooms.

“Since studios closed, I have been focusing mainly on pet portraits and animal related designs. Before closure, 80 per cent of my work was animal related tattoos,” Entraigues said.

“Now, my work is pretty much 100 per cent pet portraits. My favourite thing to do is miniature realism, which is a black and grey portrait done as closely as possible to a reference photo, but around the size of a coin.

“Each portrait takes hours, I definitely cannot do more than one in a day, sometimes a couple of days. The drawing process is quite different to tattooing because the surface is not the same, the pencil doesn’t achieve the same textures and, of course, with a drawing you can erase and redo parts as many times as you like. Doing pet portraits is definitely less stressful than tattooing.”

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