Mister Cartoon cover and interview | YRB Magazine

September 16 2010 . 05:53am

Mister Cartoon doesn’t need any introductions. Either you know of his amazing artistic skills or you don’t. However, many might not know how Mark Machado became the legendary Mister Cartoon, or even still, what makes the internationally renowned artist tick.

On the surface, Mister Cartoon is best known for his tattooing abilities and extensive resume of notable clients sporting his ink. But he’s also celebrated for his graffiti skills and numerous collaborations, making him one of the most sought after artists by just about every big time company. He’s done stuff with Nike, Vans, Stüssy and countless others, and the partnership requests keep coming in.

With success constantly building every year, Mister Cartoon has become a walking brand. But despite all the accolades, he is really a humble guy at heart, doing it all for the love and passion he has for creating art. Lacking any formal training, Cartoon cultivated an interest in art as a child, explaining that it made him feel good to make a new drawing. But his artistic story really begins when he was introduced to graffiti as a teenager.

“I got busted writing on walls, but still wanted that same rush I got whenever I’d do art, so I became a sign painter and would do the signs for a barber’s shop front window,” he explains. From there, he went on to airbrush cars at shows, soon immersing himself in the world of silk-screening by making his own shirts. Designing record covers came next, and Mister Cartoon eventually became a tattoo artist after linking up with Bob Roberts of Spotlight Tattoo. The flood gates of success were now open for a boy whose only aspirations were to “own an apartment, a ’64 Impala with a moonroof and hydraulics complete with a girl with hair down to her ankles.”

But beneath all the success and notoriety lies a man who still gets fazed by the presence of celebrities stopping by his tattoo shop; a graffiti artist who’ll bomb walls in every city he visits just to keep it real; and a mentor who is very involved with his community.

“I think that when Snoop Dogg walks in and you’ve been listening to his music all week, it blows your mind,” he reveals. “Then there are those that just visit the shop and don’t get tattoos that practically give me a heart attack. I almost fuckin’ hit the floor one day when I looked out the window of the shop to see Dr. Phil coming in. When you get used to that shit, you have to be too self-absorbed. It’s bullshit because no one gets used to that kind of shit.”

Deep down, there’s Mister Cartoon “the artist,” who everyday tries to bring something new to the table with each and every artistic endeavor he takes on. There are many different hats he has to wear, and he’s perfected the art of time management. “You make the commitment and do what you do,” he says. “Once you start a project, it will get done. You just need to put that first line down on paper, which is the hardest part.” From there, Cartoon figures out what approach to take on each particular art project.

“You’re doing something that a lot of people are going to see, and you always think about how you appeal to a lot of people, yet remain hardcore,” he explains. “You don’t want to give a fuck about what they think, yet you want them to like it—all those things run in your head.”

Getting in the artistic mode by putting on some “old Public Enemy or Ice Cube,” Cartoon likes to envision everything he does from the viewpoint of what would make him “go crazy” if he saw it on the street. When doing a painting, he takes into consideration what he thinks would look “dope sitting over a nice couch in the living room.” Putting all these things into perspective, he always strives for originality.

Having done several collaborations over the years, Cartoon now thinks the words “collabo” and “limited edition” are played out and is getting pickier with everything he lends his name to. “You have to protect your brand,” he says. “Some people’s collabos just don’t make sense or don’t fit. Man, I get tons, but I can’t do all of them, obviously. You always have to be thinking about and doing something different. You need to think with the other side of your brain because that’s what makes good stuff come.”

Out of his many “duets,” as Cartoon jokingly calls them, notables include the Nike Air Force 1 Livestrong sneaker he designed with Lance Armstrong; the Vans “The Simpsons” shoe; and, most recently, hooking up with NY’s Hotel Marcel to become its first artist-in-residence, with his YRB cover made especially for the instillation. He was even allowed to create and design a whole suite to do tattooing and painting.

Though he can’t exactly talk about everything else he’s currently working on, Cartoon did mention that he will be dropping another Vans project soon. “What’s dope about companies like this is that they let you do what you want to do and don’t try to art-direct you or anything,” he says. “They know when to step back and let you do what you do.”

Like every creative type, Cartoon admits he still has those days where inspiration doesn’t always flow as easily as he’d like, but he refuses to call it a creative block. “They’re old school, negative words that people get stuck in. I replace ‘blocked’ with ‘challenge’ because with challenge, there is a good ending to the story. I refuse to get blocked. I might not know what I want to put on there, but it’s going to get done. I think ‘I’m going to murder that shit,’ even though inside I’m like, ‘I don’t know what the fuck I’m going to do.’” He also mentions he has no time to feel creatively blocked because he has so much going on that he has no other choice but to tackle the situation or project head on.

“I’m constantly getting challenged to do shit I’ve never done before. It’s just about having the confidence to know that you’re going to do it and, usually, if you’re blocked, you’re talking to yourself in the wrong way. You’re saying you can’t do it and start doubting yourself. If you talk to yourself different and say, ‘What would blow my mind if I saw it,’ then you’ll be able to answer those questions and your creativity will flow.” 

Despite taking his work extremely seriously and passionately, Cartoon still struggles with his art everyday like any regular artist. He cares about the type of legacy he leaves behind, but a part of him doesn’t want to give a shit because he can’t take his work to the grave. All he wants to be known for is what he gave away, like taking time out of his crazy schedule to walk into a youth authority prison and provide the kids with an art class.

“In the end, it’s not going to matter how much shit I accumulated, and I’m not really going to care about any criticism,” he says. “People die everyday and the world keeps on rocking. All that matters is that if you like your own shit, and you felt your formula was right, then who gives a fuck if no one likes it. I always say, ‘Most artists are fuckin’ nuts anyways.’ And if you’re the crazy fucker looking in the mirror, then fuck it. All you need to do is move forward with your artwork and keep up the hard work for yourself.”

Source: yrbmagazine.com

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