STATEN ISLAND, NY — Keri Sheheen, 31, grew up at a well-known Staten Island bakery learning the trade of cake decorating.
“Mother Moss gave me a unique insight behind the scenes of running a small business and the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to be successful,” said the Ward Hill resident.
Her mother, Joan Sheheen, and her business partner, Teri Rutigliano, “built Mother Mousse from the ground up.” And before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Sheheen was preparing to buy Mother Mousse.
“My mom and Teri were looking to retire and we were just waiting for lawyers. When the pandemic hit, it gave me a moment to really think about what I was getting into,” she said.
Sheheen said that’s when she recognized her passion was creating art — most of which is inspired by the skeleton, superstition and supernatural imagery — and not baking.
“Basically, I didn’t think [baking] was the right person. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but I finally decided to close my eyes and start my own business,” said the artist, who is a fan of “everything Halloween.”
In 2021, she officially launched Parlor Trick Prints LLC, turning her hobby as an artist into a career.
“Parlor Trick Prints is an art brand. I create unique wall art and clothing, all with original designs. I also provide illustration and graphic design services, as well as custom printed garments and laser services,” she added, noting that Mother Mousse was taken over by former employee Andrea Lasaponara and Melissa DePalma. .
INSPIRED BY HER PARENTS
While Sheheen was inspired by her mother’s “sharp business acumen” and “unwavering ambition to create unique, quality products”, another role model in her life was her father, Dennis Sheheen, an illustrator and graphic designer. died in 2020.
“[My father] was completely self-taught and always encouraged my creative side as a child. Growing up with two independent parents, with totally different business models, definitely influenced how I viewed career opportunities,” Sheheen recalls.
She said it inspired her to start her own business.
“My mom has business acumen and my dad has creativity, so I feel like I’m torn between the two. My father’s illustration work and paintings are forever an inspiration to me, even after his passing,” Sheheen said.
‘SCARY BUT CUTE’ DRAWINGS
As for how she offers her designs, Sheheen said she grew up in a “modern Addams family” household.
“My father was an avid collector of oddities and strange relics. … Our house was filled to the brim with vintage posters, unique illustrations, skeletons, taxidermy and a whole library of strange information. Growing up in a modern Addams Family home definitely paved the way for my morbid imagination,” Sheheen said.
“I’ve heard people call my work ‘scary but cute’, ‘weird but whimsical’ and ‘macabre.’ Personally, I describe it as ‘the art of the strange and unusual’,” she added.
She said these unconventional designs are often inspired by objects she encounters in her daily routine.
“Sometimes I read a tidbit of interesting or weird history or lore. Much of my work is inspired by vintage pulp art illustrations and magician and sideshow posters. bright colors and graphics accompanied by mysterious or disturbing images.Nautical images/superstitions are also preferred,” Sheheen said.
Her artwork and clothes are sold through Etsyat craft fairs and in stores in the Tristate area.
Whether drawing or sculpting, Sheheen was always creating something when she was growing up.
This penchant for art led her to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Printmaking, with a minor in Film Studies from SUNY New Paltz in 2013.
“After graduating and no longer having access to studio equipment, I slowly began to build my own screen printing studio in my parents’ basement/various apartments while working full time at Mother Mousse as a specialist cake decorator. The path from ‘fine artist’ to ‘baker’ hasn’t been as difficult as you might think – the only difference is that the material you’re working with can be eaten” , she said.
Whatever spare time she had after work at the bakery would be spent expanding her artistic practice and slowly building her studio.
“I did screen prints on paper, wood and clothing. I have also created “wood transfers” of my artwork, which are digital prints transferred by hand onto wood. I was constantly looking for different ways to mass-produce my work, while keeping my hand in the process at the same time,” Sheheen said, noting that she would sell her work at pop-up markets and festivals in Staten Island, Brooklyn. and in New Jersey, even before she officially launched Parlor Trick Prints.
Today, Sheheen owns a color t-shirt printer and a C02 laser cutter that allow him to print designs on everything from clothing to wood.
FREE EXCHANGE PROGRAM
After receiving two scholarships from Staten Island Arts, Sheheen created The exchange of living room impressions — a free program allowing engravers to share and receive work from other engravers across the United States.
“The second grant is for a stop motion animation project in collaboration with my partner, Carl Gallagher. Carl wrote the music and I created the animation. We have a premiere scheduled for June at Makerspace in Stapleton,” she said.
PARLOR TRICK PRINTS AT A GLANCE
New Businesses in Focus is a weekly column that chronicles the stories of new Staten Island business owners. If you have a new business in Staten Island, email [email protected].
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