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Meet Shelby Chin of PARALLAX Art Studio in San Jose

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shelby Chin.

Shelby, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As a child, I always had a passion for the arts; and my friends and family knew that I was definitely more expressive on the creative side. I remember how eight years old me would wake up at 6 a.m. in the morning, just to turn on the lamp on my desk, and draw. I was just so eager to bring my ideas to life that I had no regard for sleeping (maybe that’s why my eye bags are so dark!). Never would I have thought in a million years that I would achieve my dream to begin my career and journey as an artist, especially one who illustrates on people as a canvas.

I started taking an interest in tattoos during my first year of college when I first saw my cousin’s sleeve on her left arm. She had such intricate detailing of beautifully designed, realistic roses, and a koi fish that appeared to pop out any moment! This was the turning point in my perspective of tattoos. Throughout the years, I explored many tattoo artists’ works through social media, such as Instagram. There was a whole network of talented and unique artists, and I was just inspired by their creations. I would make my own designs and post it on a separate art account. As a result, I had requests from friends and people I did not know to help design a tattoo for them. I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a part of the tattoo industry. The ability to transform people’s stories and ideas into art enticed me to pursue this career.

As Instagram was the source of my inspiration, it was also a platform that gave me the opportunity to become a tattoo apprentice. I saw an ad posting from an artist that I follow, Denise Wong (@inkedbydenise), that she was looking for an apprentice. It has been a year since then, and I am constantly drawing and improving my technique and skills as an artist. There’s always something new to learn each day, and I am excited to see where this journey will take me.

Has it been a smooth road?
Being a tattoo apprentice is definitely a tough process as it has a fast-paced learning environment. There are so many different aspects to consider when it comes to developing your own style and transferring designs onto the skin. Personally, I struggled with designing pieces according to both the client’s ideas and the placement on the body. As people have different body types, there is a certain flow that must be considered to not have the tattoo appear awkwardly. I would need to keep in mind about the direction that the tattoo is facing, size in relation to the available space, and how it wraps on the body. I was able to gradually overcome my struggle through experience, practice, and use of mockup designs on body references.

Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
I currently am a tattoo apprentice, working in a team full of talented, Asian American, female artists, despite being in a male-dominated industry. As a team, we communicate our skills through art and challenge ourselves to design pieces in a different perspective.

I specialize in illustrative, fine line designs, however, I also am familiar with the Asian Neo-Traditional style. My work is known for its thin linework, and whip shading that consists primarily of dotwork.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes, as the tattoo industry is growing, so are people who expresses themselves with tattoos on their bodies. Los Angeles definitely has an open community that does not judge one based on appearances. Tattoos are definitely the current trend and it would be perfect for artists to open a shop in the city.

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