The concept of parity describes the inversion symmetry of a system and is of fundamental relevance in the standard model, quantum information processing, and field theory. In quantum electrodynamics, parity is conserved and selection rules (SRs) appear when matter is probed with electromagnetic radiation. However, typically large field gradients are required to engineer the parity of the light-matter interaction operator for natural atoms. In this work, we instead irradiate a specifically designed superconducting artificial atom with spatially shaped microwave fields to select the interaction parity in situ. In this way, we observe dipole and quadrupole SRs for single state transitions and induce transparency via longitudinal coupling. Furthermore, we engineer an artificial potassium-like atom with adjustable wave function parity originating from an artificial orbital momentum provided by a resonator. Our work advances light-matter interaction to a new level with promising application perspectives in simulations of chemical compounds, quantum state engineering, and relativistic physics.