Footscray has a reputable lineage as home to the hidden gems. From its underground arts scene, authentic and culturally diverse foods and prominent market, through to its most recently acquired status as a hot spot for hip tucked away bars and burgers. Footscray has birthed an inimitable vibe. It comes as no surprise that Melbourne’s Best Tattoo Studio has found a pulse in this dynamic urban heartbeat. A blink of the eye and one could easily miss the stenciled red parrot on the Crimson Art Collective tattoo sign (an artful throwback to its street art roots) that hangs at the single-fronted entrance of one of Footscray’s most historically rich buildings, the Trocadero Arcade. When you see the bird, stop and pause for a minute at the blackhole entrance and enter the vortex of creativity, woven into the walls since the building was established in 1914. Follow the stairs to the top floor, through the warren of corridors and past the floor-to-ceiling windows of the gallery spaces that define the Trocadero Art Space and are home to the Five Walls Projects. Not only home to Melbourne’s Best Tattoo Studio, these spaces are also a regular abode for some of Melbourne’s most innovative artists. Once you’ve peeled your eyes away from the art installations and walk a little further down that corridor, your attention will be seized by another floor-to-ceiling glassed space whose walls are laden with bold, colourful art and floor consumed by a ping pong table that instantly oozes the edgy, eclectic, fun-loving vibes that are at the heart of Melbourne’s Best Tattoo Studio; Crimson Art Collective. Through the nondescript, industrial door, you will be greeted by one the many resident artists that form part of the collective. If the first room you saw down the corridor wasn’t enough to convince you of the artistic quality of this studio, the vibes on the inside most certainly will. Since garnering its status as Melbourne’s Best Tattoo Studio, Crimson Art Collective has grown from a single to a double-roomed studio that now occupies a large portion of the top floor. A flow of natural light and the hustle and bustle of Footscray’s dynamic Barkly Street sift through the original rectangular windows that line the street-facing wall. Small and intimate booths partition the open-plan floor space and are home to some of Melbourne’s best and most energetic, emerging and established, tattoo artists. Each booth has been transformed into a kitsch shrine; the stark white walls hardly visible underneath the sea of art and memorabilia that speaks volumes for each artist’s spirit and style. There’s a central, low-riding couch of comfort to sink into while you wait for your ink. There’ll even be the perfect soundtrack playing in the background and a Mexican-style Lady Madonna statue to keep you company, giving you time to wistfully indulge in a perfect of ‘you’re not in Kansas anymore’ moment. Crimson Art Collective has undoubtedly up kept the tradition of innovation that the guts and glory of this iconic building is fondly remembered for. We guarantee that within moments of entering the space, you will quickly understand why it has earned its stripes as Melbourne’s Best Tattoo Studio. It certainly is the best in the West.