By: Lindy Hale

New York City native Shaun Parker is no stranger to change. 

While working as a fitness instructor in Memphis, Tennessee, Parker stumbled upon the social media page of a friend who was transitioning from graffiti art to tattooing. This friend’s shift sparked Parker’s interest. He was confident that, with his background in award-winning art, he could make a similar transition himself. 

The very next day, Parker was on a plane to New York City with one goal in mind—breaking into the tattoo industry. 

Now, tattoo artist is just another title under Parker’s belt. With over 12 years of experience in the industry, Parker has transformed his creative portfolio to also include original paintings, digital designs, and most recently, his first book titled The Tattoo Hustle which debuted in 2020.

We sat down with Parker, who has been a BKLYN Commons member since 2018, to gain insight on his creative journey and learn how he has been able to keep his business moving forward throughout the pandemic.

Shawn Parker at work. Photo: Supplied.

Who is your greatest inspiration as an artist?

I used to spend 10-15 hours a week in Barnes and Noble reading about Renaissance artists. I remember reading one book about Michelangelo sneaking off to Africa to learn his skills of sculpting. This story made me gravitate towards his style. I hope one day to visit the Sistine Chapel to witness Michelangelo’s art in person.

On your website you talk about changing perception and the idea of art. What advice do you have for individuals who want to transform the future of art?

We live in a world of copycats. It’s the “Jordan sneakers” pandemic. When one person gets a tattoo, others want the same body art without channeling their own original creation or idea. 

I want to inspire artists to think long and hard about their visions so that they can learn to share the depth of their creative thoughts. For example, many people contact me for common tattoo designs. But as a skilled tattoo artist, my strength is helping people expand on their original thoughts to turn their tattoo idea into a unique story. 

If we, as artists, use our imagination to think about art in a broad sense, we will breathe new life into creation.

Like many small business owners, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted your business. How has this required you to pivot over the past year?

When the shutdown began in March, I started painting canvases, wood panels, and doing logo design. One thing that the pandemic helped me realize is that I was losing patience doing the same type of work over and over again. The time away from tattooing allowed me to rework my portfolio and promote my work to people who want to become skin art collectors, rather than to those who just want another tattoo. 

How has being a member of BKLYN Commons supported your artistic journey?

I started meeting my BKLYN Commons neighbors one by one. Over time, I’ve been able to build professional relationships, expand my network, and pool resources with other members. 

I often take my clients on a tour of BKLYN Commons after our sessions. These tours are helpful because they allow my clients to gain a sense of the warm and welcoming community in the building. Since BKLYN Commons isn’t a storefront, it’s important for people to see the collaboration and hard work taking place inside. 

As members, we often refer each other to our clients for various products and services. It’s a group effort. We’re all entrepreneurs and we inspire each other to grow our individual businesses.

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Parker, whose tattoo shop is located in BKLYN Commons’ Bushwick location, urges people to stay aggressive when it comes to networking and marketing, especially during COVID-19. “Supporting a business isn’t a one day thing,” he said. “The support needs to be everlasting for small business owners to continue moving forward and up.”

To learn more about Shaun Parker and Shaun’z Ink visit: 

www.shauncparker.com

Instagram: @shaun_c_parker

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