A glimpse at an ‘Evening with LA Cultural Toons’

Collage+of+six+photos%3BA+person+getting+a+tattoo%2C+L.A+skyline%2C+Mister+Cartoon%2C+Estevan+Oriol%2C+a+camera+and+a+lowrider.

This image was made by Camille Jessie through Canva using Sketchify elements.

Briana Munoz, Reporter

Updated March 23: Robert Weide’s department has been corrected.

At an event this month, some Cal State LA students had the opportunity to virtually sit down with the ambassadors of LA urban culture, Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol. The virtual event was held on March 5 by the Student Homie Union (SHU), a student organization at Cal State LA for formerly incarcerated and gang-affiliated students.

Mister Cartoon is a Los Angeles-based tattoo artist who has tattooed countless celebrities and well-known figures, including Eminem, Kobe Bryant, and Snoop Dogg. Estevan Oriol is a professional photographer and director who launched his photography career while working as a tour manager for Cypress Hill and House of Pain.

“Our mission was to take Chicano art from the motel to the red carpet,” said Mark Machado, better known as Mister Cartoon. “We didn’t want to water it down.”

Robert Weide, an assistant professor of sociology and faculty advisor of the SHU, spearheaded the event for students to hear from two influential Chicano artists that merged their heritage with Los Angeles street art and culture. The event focused on discussing the Netflix documentary, “LA Originals,” with questions from panelists and audience members.

“I try and put on at least one event for them each year and I’ve been friends with Cartoon and Estevan for 20 something years,” said Weide. “Because the documentary had come out last summer, it was really popular, so I thought the students would enjoy that.”

“LA Originals,” directed by Estevan Oriol, captures the humble roots of Mister Cartoon and Oriol’s artistic careers. The documentary was inspired by Oriol’s vast collection of footage and photographs highlighting the indispensable moments of the pair’s journey towards success. It also features various celebrities commenting on the talent of the two, such as comedian George Lopez who referred to them as “cholo Da Vincis.”

“I look back on it now and we had an incredible life,” said Oriol during the virtual event. “It was fun, we got to travel, we got to experience a lot of stuff and everything that we got into, we tried to be the best at it.”

Audience members noted that the speakers gave detailed and humorous answers to questions asked, whether it touched upon their lives, careers, or mindsets.

Cartoon added that his parents were influential to his dedication as an artist. “I can just remember that when I would draw, my old man would look over my shoulder, he’d put his arm gently on me and he’d say, ‘Oh that’s good, son! Keep going!’” said Cartoon. “As an adult, I looked back at those drawings and I found out that my parents lied to me. They were all stick people drawings.”

L.J. Glenn, president of the SHU, said he found the event to be personable and enjoyed hearing the commentary about how the two approach life.

“They’re used to being around a lot of people that we’ve grown up idolizing like Eminem, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg,” said Glenn. “They’re both just some cool down-to-earth dudes and I think there’s ways we can all kind of relate to them.”

Through their anecdotes, both Mister Cartoon and Estavan Oriol reinforced the idea that dreams are achievable through one’s dedication.

“Anything that you submerse yourself into and you won’t accept anything but a good result, you’ll achieve that. It’s hard work, it’s focus, it’s persistence, and it’s repetition of doing the same thing over and over,” said Cartoon. “I see my daughters;they’re looking up Billie Eilish or they look at Selena Gomez and I go, ‘Mija, what do those girls have in common? Sick work ethic.’ They expect more out of themselves than anybody can expect out of them.”