Munk One is a formally trained illustrator and designer based in LA who uses creative expression to dialogue on contemporary culture and politics, in a unique way. With a graphically pleasing style that ranges from beautiful to morose and plays with the lines that lie in between, Munkâ€™s work has become iconic among urban culture today. His title as an artist is hard to define because heâ€™s also an accomplished painter and tattoo artist. This multi-talented wonder, takes time out to give Format a peek into the mind and under the ink, of an urban artist with a positive message and some really sweet band shirt designs. Come along as we get to know Mr. Jose A. Mercado.
“It hadn’t really occurred to me until that time that someone might actually like my work enough to put it on their skin forever.”
Format: Your style is very distinct, what most inspires you as an artist?
Munk One: Most often it’s music, dreams, pop culture, politics and the constant urge to bring out what’s going on in my mind to this reality that inspires me to create. It’s fun. It’s like I know I only have a limited amount of time to create in this lifetime, so each design, drawing or sketch is very important to me, almost like I’m trying to beat the clock.
Format: What was the first band you worked with and what was it like?
Munk One: The very first time my art was used for a band was when one of my drawings was scanned directly from a sketchbook I had and was used for merchandise for the band Limp Bizkit while I was working for a merchandising company in my teens. I thought it was so cool that my rough drawing was used for major label band, I was hooked and knew I wanted to continue doing more art along those lines.
Format: How did it feel the first time you saw your work on someone’s skin?
Munk One: I was surprised, I think I was looking through a tattoo magazine and saw someone with one of my designs on their arm and was like â€œWow!â€ It hadn’t really occurred to me until that time that someone might actually like my work enough to put it on their skin forever.
Format: How do you feel about tattoos and do you think there are any taboos left, related to tattoo culture?
Munk One: I think most tattoos are just another of expression of one’s self.Â People by nature are not very accepting of what they don’t understand, so until we can figure out how to be open to the views of others their beliefs without prejudice, sadly I think there will be a certain taboo associated with tattoos.
Format: If you could only choose one, what’s your favorite medium to work in?
Munk One: I would have to say acrylics because of its relative easy clean up, non toxicity, the wide range of looks I can get with it, and also the ability to mix other mediums with it.
Fomat: What message are you trying to convey with your more political work, like the iconic image of Obama that you did during his campaign?Â
Munk One: I want to get people talking.Â Iâ€™m, by no means, a political analyst, but I do think we live in a society where we have much more power to make a difference in our government and lives than people in other countries do. I’d like to see more people paying attention and at least having a conversation about what is going on in the world. One reason I did the Obama art is that I feel that he beleives in having dialogue. Even though we might differ in opinions, we can still come together as one to find solutions to the challenges this generation faces.
Format: If you were asked to close your eyes and draw the first thing that comes to mind,Â what would it be?
Munk One: Probably some sort of wierd anamorphic life drawing. I like coming up with new characters to fill my imaginary art world with.
Format: What is your most meaningful tattoo, personally and why?
Munk One: Above my right wrist I have a key and the word familia (family) in a banner going across it. It’s my most meaningful tattoo because it reminds me of the day I got it, which was my first Father’s Day.
Format: What advice would you give to aspiring young artists about pursuing their art as a profession?
Munk One: My advice would be not to give up, and if you can’t go to school then luckily nowdays books and the internet have so much information as to how to improve your skills and work professionally. Oh, and try to enjoy what you do.
Format: And finally: something you will do this year that you’ve never done before…Â
Munk One: I will have a solo show in Portland this October at the Upper Playground Gallery up there. I’ve never shown in Portland so it should be interesting. It’s a great city and I’m really looking forward to it. Other than that I plan ton traveling to NYC since I’ve never been out there and hope to pick up some inspiration while I’m there as well.