Beginning his career as a club bouncer in Los Angeles (the ultimate launch pad to his whirlwind career in the fast lane), Estevan Oriol has always been down with some aspect of the entertainment industry. From securing a job as tour manager for rap group House of Pain, to directing music videos for music heavyweights such as Eminem and Linkin Park, it was only a matter of time before he set out to create something he could distinctly call his own. Joining forces with L.A.-based artist Mr. Cartoon, the pair created Joker Brand clothing, a line inspired by tattoo culture and the streets of L.A.
â€œJoker was originated by Mr. Cartoon who at the time was tattooing, before all these other clothing lines even started. The rest is history.â€
Format: Aside from holding position as CEO of Joker Brand, you are also an internationally recognized photographer and music video director. Growing up, did you always know you were destined to be a part of the entertainment industry?
Estevan Oriol: No I didnâ€™t, I had know idea. I sort of tripped, fell and landed right into it.
Format: How have you seen street culture change in Los Angeles over the years?
Estevan Oriol: Drastically. The people, the clothes, the music, the development in the real estate; they like to tear down all the cool, old looking buildings and put up new and ugly arty farty ones.
Format: In 1992, you became tour manager for the rap group House of Pain. Tell us about that experience.
Estevan Oriol: [Cypress Hill producer] DJ Muggs hired me for the job and told me I had to make sure that they got everything done. Interviews, shows, photo shoots, traveling, and when they made money I had to collect it from the promoters. It sounds easy, but you have to be on point with time management and you have to learn how to be a people person. You meet a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons; fans, promoters, stage crews, media, etc., and you have to be firm and respectful with all of them.
Format: When did you first hook up with Mr. Cartoon?
Estevan Oriol: In 1992 at a Penthouse Players record release party at Hollywood billiards in Hollywood, California. We met through our friend Donnie Charles, R.I.P.
Format: Besides Joker Brand, what other projects have you and Mr. Cartoon teamed up on?
Estevan Oriol: Pretty much everything. C.D. covers, movie posters, books, photo shoots, videos, S.A. studio jobs, Nike, T Mobile, Scion, and Rockford Fosgate.
Format: How has tattoo culture influenced the Joker Brand designs?
Estevan Oriol: Joker was originated by Mr. Cartoon who at the time was tattooing, before all these other clothing lines even started. The rest is history.
Format: Television shows such as Miami Ink and L.A Ink have demonstrated the popularity of tattoo culture. How has the presence of tattoos in pop culture helped further the success of Joker Brand?
Estevan Oriol: It hasnâ€™t. We are still on the grind like it was the first day. We work hard daily. None of that stuff has boosted our sales. If anything, they are doing what weâ€™ve been doing and putting their name on it.
Format: Many clothing companies have been severely affected by the hard economic times which we are currently in. Have you had to deal with these struggles and what plan of action would you take to keep Joker Brand afloat during this tumultuous period?
Estevan Oriol: Yes. We have been affected by the economy, but at the end of the day only the strong survive and we are still here in our 14th year.
Format: You have directed music videos for heavy weights such as Eminem, Cypress Hill, D12, Linkin Park, Blink 182, Paul Wall, P.O.D., and Xzibit; unquestionably an impressive roster of talent. Are there any musicians in particular that you would love to work with and havenâ€™t had the chance to yet?
Estevan Oriol: Yes, there are many. The list is too long to name and the budgets have been drastically cut.
Format: How do you set yourself apart from other brands that cater to the same target market?
Estevan Oriol: We keep doing what weâ€™ve been doing for the past 14 years, staying true to the brand and our customers. We donâ€™t go with the trends.
Format: Where do you see Joker Brand in the next 5 years?
Estevan Oriol: Still in business