Winona Forever Tattoo is the Ocean Grove studio helping people to reclaim their bodies

Winona Forever Tattoo is the Ocean Grove studio helping people to reclaim their bodies

Words by Mackenzie Pennycook

The female owned and led tattoo studio is bringing the art of hand poked tattoos to the coast.

Winona Forever Tattoo studio, based in Ocean Grove aims to be a safe and inclusive spot for people to come and get gentle hand poked tattoos in the most comfortable way possible.

The art of hand poking tattoos is slow and gentle, and the artist places each dot manually to form the linework as opposed to a machine working quite quickly for the same result. Its gentler on the skin and has an often-better healing process but lasts just as long as a traditional machine tattoo when done properly.

Meaghan Cook, the owner and sole artist at Winona Forever Tattoo is an Ocean Grove local and mum of three young boys. She has been honing her skills and tattooing professionally out of her studio for over four years now, with a couple of breaks due to covid and general life circumstances.

Meaghan has always been drawn to a life of creativity, with beginnings as a professional photographer for 10 years as well as a professional artist, she says that tattooing was just another way to express herself creatively.

“I’ve always done creative things.” She says, “Tattooing was just another art form for me, it was just about learning another medium, but what I didn’t anticipate was the connection with people that this art form would bring. “

Meaghan, who initially began tattooing for her love of art soon realised that it was the human connection and vulnerability that made her fall in love with hand poke tattooing.

“Doing it on someone’s body brings a whole different element, my clients are all coming here and being super vulnerable and I really cherish that. It’s an extra dimension to the artwork that’s probably my favourite thing”

Meaghan is trained in both traditional machine tattoos, and hand poke tattoos, but prefers hand poking due to its gentle nature. Her clients are also predominately women or people getting their first ever tattoos and she sees hand poking as a far less intimidating medium as opposed to machine tattoos.

“I can hand poke and do machine tattoos, but the majority of my time and effort goes into the hand poking.” Says Meaghan, “I just find it such a beautiful medium to give someone a tattoo with, most of my sessions are actually quite therapeutic for the person coming.”

“It’s a completely different experience than rushing in, having something drawn on you, having it being super painful and then getting out. Whereas this experience is slow and its calm and there’s a chance to connect with the person and they can also connect with you which I think is especially important, particularly for women.” She says.

With a clientele base that is predominately women of all ages or people wanting their first tattoo, Meaghan prioritises comfortability in her studio. The area is surrounded by plants, smells like fresh jasmine, and has a playlist of super chill lo-fi music to accompany you in the session.

The studio experience gives you more than just a super cute fresh tatt, you go in expecting just a tattoo and you walk out of the studio with your tattoo, and some pretty stellar life advice.

The process is far slower, so the conversational aspect is huge at Winona Forever, whether your after just a chat or to have a weight lifted off your shoulders, Meaghan is definitely your girl.

“It’s just so much slower and I think in this day and age we just need more of that,” says Meaghan, “Interestingly, around 75-80 percent of the peoples that come in are healing from some sort of trauma, particularly women. Post-divorce, healing from childhoods or healing from a rough 12 months.”

If you’re looking for someone to execute your first tattoo with kindness and precision, or if you’re just looking to add some extra artwork to an ever-growing tatt collection, Winona Forever should definitely be added to the list of must visit studios.

Her tattoos are all hand drawn and done by hand, she regularly posts designs on her socials you can snatch up or you can have your own ideas come to life and be designed and drawn up by her.

Tattoos are all by appointment only, and you can get in contact with Meaghan via her Instagram dms @winonaforever_tattoos, as well as suss her previous works.