The Young and Reckless blog recently met up with the acclaimed tattoo artist Mister Cartoon (a man whose client list reads like a Grammy performance line-up) for an impromptu philosophical discussion about survival, talent, and success. Beyoncé, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg Lion, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Eminem, and 50 Cent are just a few celebrities that have commissioned the dexterous mastermind to ink their bodies with the "fineline style" of tattoo that has made him a legend of his craft.
Born Mark Machado, Mister Cartoon was born and raised in the City of Angels. Growing up in the 80s and its riotous environment shaped his art and imagination. "Just growing up in L.A., you see so much wild shit, especially in the 80s, you know? Seeing some of your friends pass, you know...it lets you know the life for you if you live in these streets...I've seen the riots, I've seen the gang-banging, the heists, you know...surviving through high school, you know...all of that era reflects my artwork."
A humble man at his core, Mister Cartoon cites his gravitation to artists of his industry as the biggest contributor to his success, even more so than his talent. "Everyone can draw; everyone's good at that shit. It's a game. How do you get known in L.A.? The people that stand out are the people that put it in the right places, timing it. I constantly put myself around it. I surrounded myself by other people that were doing it, you know? So finding out what it is that you like and immersing yourself in it-- that'll save your life."
And what wisdom does he share in regards to success? "I think successful people in the world are people that found out what they wanted to do young...You just gotta think about what makes you happy; what is it that you would do if you weren't gonna get paid. That's usually the answer."
For Mister Cartoon, his tattoos are like his children. What exactly happens to them after he has invested his energy into producing the drawings, he will never know. He can only trust that through them, people will see his passion for body art as unconditional.
"Your tattoo leaves and who knows where it's going to go, man. Sometimes, you know...it jumps on a plane, sometimes it goes into the dirt. If only the tattoos could talk."