An interview with Shamus Mahannah: tattoo artist and family man from Montreal, Canada.
Shamus is a talented human who works at MTL Tattoo. The boldness of his tattoos make them look like stickers. He is now in full swing for what he calls the ‘convention season’… so you better buy your plane ticket and get booked in!
Let’s start from the beginning. How did you approach to tattoos?
I guess it started with school. I studied Illustration and Design in College and really got into art and the different mediums one can use to create art. I started buying airbrush and tattoo magazines. The tattoo magazines were mostly because I was looking into getting a sleeve so I was doing research. As my studies progressed, I found what I wanted to get tattooed so I went to a shop where a friend was doing his apprenticeship. I went in with my drawing all layed out, colour scheme and all. I showed the artist and made an appointment. As I was getting tattooed we talked about what I was doing in life and so on. I mentioned that I was studying and she was interested in seeing my portfolio. So at my next sitting I came in with it. Stacey, my artist, showed it to her husband Vince West, another tattoo artist. I guess they thought I had potential because they asked me if I was interested in learning how to tattoo? At the time I didn’t think much about it, I considered it another tool so why not. Thanks to Stacey, Vince West, and amongst others I am here where I am today.
What do you love the most about traditional tattoos?
Everything!! The simplicity, the boldness, and just how sharp they look. You know a great traditional tattoo when people say it is as clean as a sticker. I love that you don’t need to search for what it is. It’s clear and obvious right away.
Flowers, butterflies, ladies, skulls. Could you ever get tired of these subjects?
Hahahahaha, you’d think so but no. For sure everything has its moments with trends and what not. Some months, people are into mandalas, and some into butterflies. But it still remains tattooing so I’m always ready, haha.
What are your fundamental values, both in your work and in your private life?
In work, it’s just to provide each client with the best work that I can provide. I will always do my best, and even try to go beyond that to produce the cleanest tattoos I can. It’s something that I do with each tattoo, it has to be perfect.
In my private life as well as work, I treat everyone with the up most respect. Trying not to let the little things get to me and taking it one day at a time.
Do you like travelling and joining conventions or you prefer staying in Montreal?
I do like to travel and do conventions. I get to see a lot of friends that I don’t get a chance to see often because we are always so busy with either work or family life.
However, it’s not easy being away from my family so I make my travel time quick and short. Fly in, work and fly out. Right now I do about 7 conventions a year.
Where do you take inspiration from?
Everywhere! Could be from something I’ve seen on clothing like patterns or old traditional tattoo flash that I put a spin on. Sometimes all it takes is a good glass of scotch, haha.
Can you mention a few people you got tattooed by?
I have my right leg sleeved out by Dave Cummings from PCS Tattoo. A tattooer that I look up to not just for his amazing tattoos but he’s a really rad dude.
I’ve got a butterfly from Ashley Love and also Capilli Tupou. Both amazing individuals, and incredibly talented. Also have my stomach done by Tony Nilsson which we never finished because I almost cried. He’s a Norwegian hammer! JK, he’s the best.
Any future plans, upcoming guest spots and stuff?
Right now I’m just getting my convention season started so that’s enough for me. Conventions and painting flash is where I am right now. I don’t do too many guests due to the conventions. After March it’s pretty much a convention per month. Gotta put in some time at the shop or I’ll lose my client