What Inspires Mahagany Shaw’s Kitschy, Crafty Style

The Higher Love tattoo artist describes her style as ”an ’80s movie doing a ’60s period piece.”

PHOTOGRAPH BY DEVYN GLISTA

OCCUPATION: Mahagany Shaw, Tattoo Artist at Higher Love

STYLE: “An ’80s movie doing a ’60s period piece”

How would you describe your style?

I like the ’50s through the ’80s the most. I watched a lot of older movies coming up. I love thrifting and antique shopping. Also crafting with my grandma at a young age, too, has influenced my style because it’s very kitschy and crafty.

Do you make some of your own clothes?

I started sewing maybe in June or July, so I’m very new at it. My grandma, she’s a quilter, so I’ve gotten quite a bit of fabric from her, but also thrifting. Before I got into tattooing, I was actually looking into fashion school.

What made you go with tattooing instead?

I got lucky and got an opportunity to become an apprentice. I’m glad that I chose to do tattooing, but I think doing stuff with fashion on the side is cool, too. I definitely want to get more into creating my own thing and upcycling vintage. Creating things in general—when you’re done, it’s a very accomplished feeling. Also, having a piece that’s one-of-a-kind that you made is cool, too.

How many tattoos do you have?

Somewhere between 50 and 60, but I’ve lost count.

How do your tattoos fit into your style?

Tattoos are a way of expressing myself. I’ve always been into art, and I like traveling to get tattooed, and I get tattooed by a lot of female artists, which is very important to me. When I wear outfits, I like to show off my tattoos.

Do you have a favorite?

I have a clown on my stomach. I’m super into clowns. Growing up, my mom worked at McDonald’s. The imagery of Ronald McDonald from my childhood has stuck with me, and my dad’s super into scary movies, so we bonded on that. I think it just reminds me of my parents, in a way.

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