Swapping ink for paint, a local tattoo artist paints pastel floral designs onto mailboxes to secure income and promote creativity while her tattoo shop remains closed due to COVID-19.
After Gov. Greg Abbott originally ordered the closure of non-essential businesses, tattoo artist and owner of Classic Tattoo, Morgan Egan began painting mailboxes throughout the community in hopes of spreading positivity during the pandemic.
Egan has been a tattoo artist for nearly 20 years and has owned Classic Tattoo, located in downtown San Marcos, for 14 years. Juggling both the responsibilities of an art student and a tattoo artist, Egan purchased the shop from its previous owner in 2005. The shop now houses seven residential artists including Egan, who is primarily known for her brightly colored floral designs.
Since the March 12 closure of Classic Tattoo, Egan decided to act on an idea that manifested long before the pandemic— to paint mailboxes around San Marcos.
Egan said although she painted her own mailbox years ago and had the idea to paint others prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as a mother of two, a business owner and an artist, she originally could not commit to the idea.
“(Painting) outside in the early morning has kind of a special quality I normally don’t get from my own art,” Egan said. “(Art) has always been an escape from real life or from the day-to-day, and it still continues to be (an escape) for me.”
Egan has been greeted with praise from customers eager for their mailbox to be transformed into artwork. She said she is grateful for how receptive the community has been toward her colorful embellishments.
“(The flowers are) a very simple folk art thing, I am not going for scientific accuracy,” Egan said. “I am not being (too) precious about it; I think that holds people (back) a lot in art—trying to get something perfect (and) nothing ever is.”
Egan said aside from mailboxes, she has plastered her signature flowers on a front door and window frames. She said she would love to have the opportunity to do more large scale floral paintings on wider-surfaces around San Marcos.
Rebecca Smith, a co-worker and longtime friend of Egan, has worked at Classic Tattoo since Egan became owner 14 years ago. Smith said they were inspired seeing pictures of women from central Europe painting bouquets of flowers on homes and churches. She said Egan’s idea to paint mailboxes is a tribute to beautifying simple objects and items.
“She is a real artist in the sense that she is always doodling on something (and) always drawing,” Smith said. “It is always unique and from her head. She is one of these artists that has a constant free flow of creativity.”
Smith said despite the uncertainty brought by the pandemic, artists now have the opportunity to try out projects that would have otherwise gotten buried underneath hectic daily routines.
“One of the things that is really cool is that (Egan) is encapsulating this time for people forever,” Smith said. “Once, hopefully, things return to some kind of normalcy, there will be that reminder (of this time), but it will be pretty. (The art) is a way of adding something sweet to a sour situation.”
Sharky Williams, a tattoo artist at Classic Tattoo, has known Egan for seven years and has been working at the studio for five years. Williams said once the studio temporarily closed, she knew if Egan could not tattoo floral designs onto a body, she would find an alternative outlet to showcase her art.
“Morgan is an artist who also (gives) tattoos,” Williams said. “She has so many other avenues and venues that she works within other mediums. It is always really inspiring to watch that.”
Due to popular demand, Egan made a decision to temporarily put commission requests for hand-painted mailbox art on hold.