Each week our intrepid artist liaison and generally jovial Eikon staffer Patrick Coste, sits down with a tattoo artist to get to know them a little better. This week, he's catching up with Halifax artist Shamus Mahannah
Shamus is a workhorse when it comes to tattooing & painting. The mark that he leaves in tattooing is as great as his tattoos - Patrick Coste
Name: Shamus Mahannah
Years tattooing: 15 years
Years actually good at it? haha: 3 years lolol. Never good enough really 😅
Place of business: MTL Tattoo, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Patrick Coste: Wasssup Shamus? You’re so close, it seems so far now, right? It's been a while since I came up and visited you last for the MTL Tattoo opening. How have you been? Over here, we’re just trying to stay indoors!!
Shamus Mahanna: I’m good, good, same same, doing the right thing! Been off since Friday the 13 of March. It’s been a rock show since it started, but now the routine is laid out, it’s a bit easier for sure!
PC: Friday the 13th, crazy eh? I didn’t realize that!! I’ve known you for quite a bit, and you’re a maniac worker when it comes to painting and doing flash every day, and obviously tattooing every day. Did you take a couple of hours vacation?? Lol...
SM: Lolol! Well yeah, it’s a whole new lifestyle for artists... we’ve got to adapt to a new lifestyle. I'm usually very productive, so adapting was a must. I have two kids, same as you, and had to adapt on that level too, keep the house clean etc. Not easy, we’ve got to do it, so we are, right?
PC: Indeed, and to me all those are “extra” you know...extra dirty, extra noises, and yeah we’ve got to work as well!!
SM: Yeah yeah. The first few days, you go overboard in cleaning, getting things tightened up, you know; wash the walls, do a spring cleaning, just a bit easier. Now it’s more about the kids, and spending time with them
PC: So you’re spending time with your offspring so they don't mess up your walls? Lolol...
SM: It still gets dirty anyway man!! One room to the next it is like a tornado, you can follow the debris! Lolol
PC: That’s it right? We’re obviously keeping ourselves busy with daily chores. I'm sure we’re not the only ones! You mentioned offline that you were getting ready to start painting and doing originals. You weren’t kidding! I looked at your social media posts, and damn!!!
SM: Yes, I was sitting on quite a few drawings I wanted to paint, but hadn’t taken the time to actually paint them. Another thing is supplies. I’ve got few materials left, then I’m waiting for my orders because we can’t go to the store as usual, which can take a while. If the post office stops working, I’m f***d and so are many others lol...
PC: Like many others you rely on originals and whatever you can create as an artist...
SM: Totally, and it’s a daily thing. I also deal with River Valley Printing Company which pushes prints for tattoo artists, and that really helps as well. He’s now working with over 30 artists. Take time to visit their website!
PC: Yeah, Dan from River Valley is awesome! So, it’s hard to say if we still can make jokes or laugh about the suits tattooers will wear from the outcome of this COVID-19 thing....How should tattooing evolve from this? Do you think a new procedure will come out of this? Do you think we're gonna go back to bootleg tattooing and hidden shops?
SM: I don't think we're gonna regress to dark ages, but the process will change a bit. Remember though, tattooers are already used to being clean, or will have to. New precautions definitely will take place, new protection will emerge etc.
Who knows really. People will be quite scared for a while, and for us tattoo artists and all other people really, it’s stuck in our heads, it’s locked in. It will be like, you know, you’re almost going into a contaminated tattoo every time, which we’re used to, but this is another level.
PC: It will end right? What do you think the rest of the year will look like? You travel a fair bit on the tattoo convention circuit, you’ve got to be a bit sad about not traveling as much... What are your thoughts? Ho, and say ‘Hi’ to AZLMTL. Man, do I miss him!
SM: Hahah I will! It’s sad for sure. We’ve already had a few shows cancelled and others postponed, and it looks slim for the rest of the year. Really, all of the ones that were at the beginning of the year will gauge the others that were at the end… Should be interesting.
All this time off gave me time to reflect about the old days, when I started my apprenticeship with Stacy and Vince West over on St-Laurent Street tattooing watermelons and all. What a good time, lots of fun.
PC: You’re talking about old school apprenticeships and all. I’m proud to have seen the responsibility that tattooers have taken since this all started. Most of them stopped when needed, and even took it to another extent because of the proximity to clients and risk of blood-borne pathogens in relation to the virus.
SM: Yes, it’s no joke in that, this is how we all feed our families, pay for daycare etc… We’ve got to continue and adapt.
PC: One last one, Man I got to say I love the spin you do, when you do the coloured tattoo inside tattoos
PC: Thank you for the chat Shamus. It’s a true bliss in these times. We could go on forever!! We see a bit of hope for this summer in the matter of getting tattooed, and to working fully. With all this uncertainty - What are you up to next? Where can we see you when this is over?
SM: I’m gonna motocross quite a bit hahaha, then I’m gonna go back to work when we can and will be in MTL Tattoo on a daily basis. I will be where I can if the circuit start again, stay tuned.
PC: Love to you all at MTL Tattoo say ‘hi’ to all your family. Stay safe, and I hope to see you soon!
Follow Shamus https://www.instagram.com/shamusmahannah