How does this tattoo artist spend the day when he’s not holding court at LA’s Shamrock Social Club

Film by Mr Antony Crook
Words by Mr Chris Elvidge, Senior Features Writer, MR PORTER

What makes Dr Woo of Shamrock Social Club one of the most coveted tattooists on the west coast? It’s a simple question of supply and demand. Supply? That’s the number of tattoos he can produce. Between five and eight a day, he says, depending on size. Demand? That’s the number of people willing to pay for one. With the waiting list for a piece of Dr Woo ink currently stretching well into the summer and beyond, it’s clear which way the scales are tipping here.

You could blame it on the kind of social media and word-of-mouth buzz that’s usually reserved for Pitchfork-approved indie musicians and limited-edition sneaker releases. And while it’s true that the kind of fine-line “fashion” tattoos that Dr Woo specialises in are having a moment – tiny, highly detailed and strictly monochrome, they can be found adorning the bodies (not to mention Instagram profiles) of music and fashion’s cool kids – it’s hard to deny that there’s something uniquely beautiful about the handiwork of this 33 year old from Agoura Hills, California.

Dr Woo, real name Mr Brian Woo, first starting dabbling in tattoos when he was 13 or 14 years old, when he and a friend would stick-and-poke their legs after school. “I think that the idea of doing something so permanent without thinking about its future consequence gave us a rush,” he says. “That whole ‘I don’t give a f**k’ ideology was like a rite of passage for us as teenagers.” He worked as a fashion buyer and designer before landing a job at Shamrock as an apprentice to Mr Mark Mahoney. If it hadn’t been for the opportunity to work for his idol, he might still be in fashion – or something in the creative sphere, at least. “Fashion, art… I don’t know,” he says. “Some kind of creative branding.” In a way, that’s what he’s doing already.

We spent a Saturday with Dr Woo and his family to better understand what makes him tick. Watch our exclusive film, above, or read on to see his top five tattoos.

Hailed as “the most in-demand tattooist in the world,” Brian Woo (aka Doctor Woo) is globally recognized for his signature single-needle, black and grey works of art, as well as his personal style. He broke into the tattoo scene in 2008 when the legendary tattoo icon Mark Mahoney invited him to apprentice at Shamrock Social Club in Hollywood, CA. After a three-year apprenticeship, Dr. Woo spent another six years tattooing some of the worlds most sought after influencers alive. The Los Angeles native has captured the attention of cult leaders in fashion and entertainment including: The New York Times, GQ, Elle, Burberry, Apple, Drake, Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevigne, Ellie Goulding, Chiara Ferragni, Hypebeast, Complex, The Coveteur, and many others. The 33-year-old artist continues to tattoo exclusively at Shamrock Social Club, while downtime is spent with his wife Jayme and their two sons, Lyon and Raif.


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