Paul Smith + Mark Mahoney


Paul Smith + Mark Mahoney

11th October 2019

Paul Smith + Mark Mahoney

The LA-based tattoo icon creates a series of custom illustrations for this special product collaboration.

Owner of the world-famous Shamrock Social Club on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, Mark Mahoney is considered a living legend in the world of tattooing.

His celebrated status is confirmed by a client list that includes A-list names such as Johnny Depp, David Beckham and Lady Gaga.

The collaboration centres around a series of hand drawn illustrations by Mark that riff on famous icons from the rich cultural history of tattooing, of which Mark is a devoted student.

The “Paul Smith” and “Big Spender” text is Mark’s take on traditional tattoo script, with the latter appearing as a playful nod to the wealth and excess that’s associated with Los Angeles. “I learned quick on the West Coast that handwriting is supremely important in the game”, says Mark.

The swallow is a great example of the multiple meanings that a single tattoo can take on over time. Traditionally, a swallow on the hand would signify that you are fast with your fists, while a swallow on the chest or neck was popular with sailors. It was said that the bird would carry to heaven the souls of men who were lost at sea.

The hands across the water motif became popular during the First World War with American and British forces fighting side-by-side. Later it became a reference to trans-Atlantic romance, as American GIs would fall in love with British girls before returning home. In this case, it symbolises the partnership between Paul in London and Mark in Los Angeles.

The panther tattoo became popular during the Second World War and seems to represent strength and power, but like all tattoos the meaning can be interpreted in many different ways.

The Shamrock, as the locals know it, is the heart of Mark’s business. As well as a working tattoo studio, it’s a place to hang out, play pool or have a beer.

“Mark is such a talented artist and there’s a brilliant atmosphere in the Shamrock”, said Paul. “It’s so friendly and down-to-earth, exactly how I hope people feel my shops are!”

Paul Smith
16, The Royal Arcade
Tel: 0203 205 1135

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