Meet the Artist: Melanie Ooi

Melanie Ooi has been on the artists journey her entire life- from the comic strips and flip books that she drew as a child, to the oil pastel and photography experiments of high school. She eventually picked up henna after many years of observing it from a distance and found that she had finally discovered her ideal medium.

Melanie’s earlier artistic influences from years of living in Japan and traveling throughout the far East gradually gave way to the design styles she was infused with from journeys through Morocco, Turkey and India. Arabesque and paisley meld with her undying love for Art Nouveau and the deeply instilled design motifs of China and Japan. 

Originally born and raised in New Zealand to a Chinese artist/entrepreneur mother and Pakeha sea captain father, Melanie has roamed the world since the age of 18 in search of adventure and life experience. She eventually found her way to Portland, Oregon, and decided to make it home. 

She has completed a bachelors degree in film studies and post graduate in education in New Zealand; acquired her SCUBA Dive Master qualification in the Bay Islands of Honduras; completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training, and most recently her esthetician’s license in the States. 

In 2006 she decided to cultivate her career as a professional artist, bringing her skills to the Portland Saturday Market and providing her services for parties and events.

Her favorite place to see clients is when hosting private appointments in her exquisite henna parlor in the Buckman neighborhood of inner SE Portland. Here she is able to curate an atmosphere that elevates the henna experience to new levels and really practice the alchemical magic of henna artistry. 

As of 2020, Melanie is returning to her childhood passion for film and is exploring documentary filmmaking relating to the cultures and people of henna. Keep an eye out for the release! 

Melanie Ooi
Melanie Ooi


  • Creator/Producer/Director: World of Henna documentary 2020
  • Featured on: Martha Stewart Weddings 2019; Vogue India 2018; Buzz Feed India 2016, OPB Art Beat 2010 & 2013
  • Instructor for: Henna Con 2017 & 2018; Henna Chai 2016; Henna Intensive & Retreat 2014
  • Winner of the Best Booth Competition at Portland Saturday Market 2013