Shaun Kama

Fabulous People: Shaun Kama

Shaun Kama is an illustrator and the resident tattoo artist at The Shop at The Punk Rock Museum in Las Vegas. A tattoo artist for 25-plus years, Kama’s works blend themes of fantasy, horror and humor, leading to his reputation as “The King of Halloween Tattoos.” Learn about Shaun Kama…

Follow at: @halloweentattoos 

Hometown: Las Vegas (the 9th Island)

First job: When I was 14, I started painting leather jackets and creating logos and art for local bands and businesses. It was my first step to becoming an entrepreneur. 

Favorite ways to spend your free time in NV: One of the most appealing aspects of living in Las Vegas is getting out and hiking in the Red Rock Mountains. I also dig spending time at the Pinball Hall of Fame. But above all, my favorite pastime is staying home with my wife and two fur kids.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: There have been a myriad of awesome achievements over the decades. However, procuring the resident artist position at The Shop in the Punk Rock Museum has been my most recent conquest and focus! Punk rock has been a staple my entire life, from going to shows in LA at the Olympic Auditorium through the 1980’s to being a front man in punk bands in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I also started my tattoo career in Los Angeles in the 90’s apprenticing under Mark Mahoney at the original Shamrock Tattoo studios. So, the merging of these two passions of mine and finally landing at the Punk Rock Museum as a tattoo artist is deeply gratifying.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Growing up, I had severe dyscalculia and dyslexia. It was extremely difficult to work with numbers or letters because it felt like they were jumping around the page. I was able to overcome these challenges to a degree by focusing on creative writing and music. I’m still horrible with numbers though.

Someone who inspires you and why: My wife, Carla, has always inspired me because she’s both mathematical and creative on so many levels. My mother is an inspiration because she was a nurse and paratrooper in Vietnam. As a single mother, she raised me while putting herself through school and always led by example. My late brother, Bruno, stepped in as a father figure when I was a troubled youth. I keep his lessons and work ethics in my heart always.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: First, create a plan of attack. Implement it without wavering or being distracted. Second, narrow your focus and be creative daily. Third, watch tutorials, practice and get an apprenticeship with somebody you admire. And lastly, stay the course, no matter what. Be tenacious and be honest with yourself.

Favorite quote: “Always be the empty cup.” – Bruce Lee

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I’m a huge proponent of musicals…Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Sweet Charity, Chicago, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, to name a few. People are also surprised to learn that I am of native Hawaiian and American Indian heritage.

What makes someone fabulous: Empathy, humor, compassion and yet standing up for what you believe to be right in your heart and soul. Be a compassionate warrior! 

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