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Business of HYPE: Mister Cartoon

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. This week, Jeff sits down with multimedia artist Mister Cartoon.

Mister Cartoon’s work can be seen cruising around the streets of Los Angeles, running the length of a local basketball court, on the arms of your favorite rapper and even on the feet of hypebeasts. His art has had an impenetrable mark on multiple generations, defining the rich Chicano and lowrider culture of LA. Born Mark Machado, Mister Cartoon grew up in his father’s print shop where he was exposed to car culture, soul music and graffiti. Stretching over four decades, his work ranges from tattoos, murals, clothing, animation and more.

Inspired by Lee Quinone’s work in Blondie’s Rapture music video, Cartoon began graffitiing, and by 16, he was already receiving paid gigs. He went on to study sign graphics at Los Angeles Trade Technical College where he transitioned into airbrushing techniques and began attending car shows. Here is where he merged his craft with the lowrider culture of his community. 

Forever in search of new ways to find creative fulfillment, Cartoon began tattooing, and after gaining some recognition in California and beyond, he used this art form as an opportunity to network in the same circles as artists like Futura and executives like Mark Parker. He recalls a memory from a Nike “tastemaker” party where he declined a $10,000 USD tattoo gig in return to go to the party as a member rather than an employee. That moment would eventually land him the connections necessary for his future streetwear and sneaker collaborations.

Reflecting on his career, Cartoon says that more than relying on raw talent, it was his “years and years of practicing when no one was watching” that brought him success. He emphasizes that alongside hard work, figuring out ways to make dreams tangible is crucial.

“I tell my kids, you can’t be anything you want to be. You will never in your life win the female gymnastic gold medal. You’re not going to be in the NBA, but you can design a jersey for them. You can be in it. Find what you’re good at and push towards it, but be realistic.”

He later details his future projects, his transition into animation, key words of advice and much more.

This episode features references to the following:

2:08 – Job title
4:34 – Hot Rod
6:03 – Paramount
6:19 – How he landed jobs
7:55 – Early life
9:51 – Blondie
10:00 – Lee Quinones
10:48 – Signature LA graffiti
14:46 – LA Trade Technical College
15:28 – Transitioning to airbrush
16:12 – Lowrider culture
17:00 – Family life
20:10 – Futura
25:33 – Eminem
26:13- Sneaker culture in California
27:16 – Transitioning to murals
28:50 – Nike Cortez
30:00 – Nike
31:52 – Landing a Nike Collab
34:12 – Mark Parker
39:05 – SupremeStussyUNDEFEATED
42:51 – Finding tangible dreams
53:46 – Clippers
54:25 – Neighborhood
56:09 – Mister Cartoon’s tattoo studio
1:04:55 – Nas
1:06:57 – Future projects
1:09:06 – Advice