Mister Cartoon is primarily known for tattooing people with his unique L.A. style that has earned him a great reputation among celebrities looking to be inked. His personality can now be found in a vinyl toy that was released by Super Rad Toys and called Lost Angel. The toy looks gaudy and gangsta, but most of all, it looks unlike any other vinyl toy available today. â€œMost of the people who buy this toy are the kind who have never bought a vinyl toy before,â€ says Mister Cartoon, adding his first graphic novel is in the works and its main character is the Lost Angel.
Currently, Mister Cartoon is working on his debut film with friend, photographer and director, Estevan Oriol. â€œWe have been writing the screenplay for a year and a half and we are getting much closer to beginning production on the film.â€
â€œL.A. style is different from anywhere else in the world, […] we like our cars low to the Earth and our women with curves and long hair down to their ankles.â€
Format: Recently, you collaborated with Super Rad Toys to make Lost Angel, your exclusive vinyl collectible that you released at Harley Davidson with your low-rider collection. At first glance, Lost Angel looks like anything other than an angel. What message were you trying to capture with Lost Angel’s design?
Mister Cartoon: The vinyl toy is the lead character from my up coming graphic novel titled The Lost Angel, to know why I drew this clown and the emotion and story behind it you will have to read the story and buy the book.
Format: Vinyl toy culture is youthful, even if its consumers are adults. In your estimation, what kind of person is going to purchase a Lost Angel?
Mister Cartoon: The consumer is the kind of person who supports the lowbrow low-rider art movement, itâ€™s someone that has tattooÂ¹s or who respects tattoos â€“ the kind of person who loves the idea of a non traditional vinyl toy. Most of the people who buy this toy are the kind who have never bought a vinyl toy before.
Format: As you’ve established your career and you have gained attention from celebrities, media and peers. Please explain the challenges you faced in the early stages of your career and continue to face in your daily operations.
Mister Cartoon: I have always loved to draw. That’s the thing that kept me going through out my career. In the early days people did not see the connection between my style of art work and fine or commercial art. Most of the artists doing our style of art were ex-convicts or dope fiends. Very few street artists had a business mentality and in turn they sold them selves short most of the time. Usually their addictions never allowed them to progress. The style of art was around long before me and will out live me.
Format: On numerous occasions, you’ve said that you’re striving to expose Los Angeles culture to hip-hop and non hip-hop audiences. How does L.A. manifest itself in your work and why is it important for you to spread your L.A.
Mister Cartoon: L.A. style is different from anywhere else in the world. We tend to lead towards black and grey, fine line, angelic photo realistic and cartoonist gangster icons. These images resemble a black and white Al Capone movie, glamorous yet violent. We like our cars low to the Earth and our women with curves and long hair down to their ankles. These images all reflect real life from the streets yet are collaged in a way that fantasies and glamorizes the good that comes from pain.
Format: The hoopla on tattoo culture has peaked in popular culture through television shows and celebrities. Your new film, directed by Estevan Oriol, is unique for its raw perspective of your relationship with your trade and your clients. Please explain how the idea of Ink came to life and the challenges you faced during production.
Mister Cartoon: At first we thought, â€˜Yeah, letâ€™s do a documentary of the last 15 years of my life.â€™ After three years of shopping the documentary and it getting turned down, a blessing came from Brian Grazer. He took interest in our project and from then on everything changed. We took his suggestion and decide to do a feature film with actors and a big budget. We have been writing the screenplay for a year and a half and we are getting much closer to beginning production on the film.
Format: Your tattoos have clowns, your artwork has clowns and your clothing line, Joker, has clowns. Your clowns are not the take the children to a circus on a Sunday afternoon, type of clowns. Please explain the attitude, origin and evolution of the clowns you bring to life through your work.
Mister Cartoon: The Clowns affected lost Angeles in the early `60s, from the classic soul sounds of Smokey Robinson and Brenton Wood, to â€œTears of Clownâ€ which was the number one hit on the radio when low riding on the streets was born in southern California. Los Angeles embraced this clown icon because it represented the good times and the bad times like a yin and yang of the streets. The clown is never showing weakness even when sad or down.
Format: In the last eight years, full-panel and sleeve tattoos have become extremely popular for women. Websites like Suicide Girls and Burning Angel are the climax of the sexy appeal that tattooed women have. In your opinion, why are tattoos so attractive on women?
Mister Cartoon: Womenâ€™s skin is the best canvas in the world. Engraving female skin makes every mother cry and makes God scratch his head wondering why his children love to draw on themselves. Little by little women are getting better work and trying to catch up to the Japanese herium that have been getting body suits for centuries.
Format: This year, the media has focused on Latino-American issues, a lot: security at the U.S.A. and Mexican boarder crossing, Mara Salvatrucha labeled the most dangerous gang in America and, most recently, David Sheffield’s comments on Latino players in Major League Baseball. In your opinion, why are mainstream media sources, like CNN, focusing on Latino issues more than they have in the past?
Mister Cartoon: They are on the late freight and are scared of the biggest population in the USA. Latinoâ€™s are hard workers, artistic and have always been here and always will.
Format: You do community work that is proactive with members of L.A. communities. In your opinion, how can the allure of counter-productive lifestyles that rap, television and neighborhood celebrities project, be replaced with lifestyles that are not left destitute?
Mister Cartoon: I believe that what ever you focus on expands. If you look at a culture or yourself and say, â€˜Poor me, I have got it so bad I can never turn it around,â€™ youâ€™re right you wonâ€™t. If you look at the same challenges and say, â€˜Thank you God my legs, eyes and hands work, I am ready to take on the world,â€™ you will go out there and set new trends no matter what negativity is around you. It makes you think that youâ€™re right as a person. In other words whatever you believe in negative or positive, youâ€™re right.
Photos by: Estevan Oriol