Back in the day, before Mark Machado rose to fame as the world-renowned tattoo artist known as Mister Cartoon, when he was a boy who earned praise from his parents for his stick figure drawings, and was last picked for basketball games. there was no chance he imagined making it to the NBA.
And yet, for the second consecutive season, his influence will be felt in his way on the pitch: his artwork has once again inspired the design for the Clippers’ Nike City Edition uniforms, again featuring the famous’ Los Angeles’ around the world. . chest.
Again, the team’s special jerseys, due to be unveiled on Tuesday, come with Mister Cartoon’s signature Old English font and black and white color palette – though they will have a white-on-black livery this time around.
“Everything looks better on a black background,” Mister Cartoon said by phone Monday. “It really brings me back to Starter jackets, NWA and mini trucks. In the mid 80’s we just wore black. ”
“What I love about the Clippers is that they take a different approach,” he continued. “They’re the ’64 ragtop Impala over the private jet … and if you went to one of their games the music bangs, the crowd really goes crazy, I just love that – and it gives me the strength to interact with some of them. talk of these youngsters. ”
That’s the other part of Mister Cartoon’s relationship with the Clippers: an outreach component they call the “Make Your Mark” campaign, where he runs monthly digital workshops with LA high school students. He provides art instruction and inspiration. The Clippers will provide an art kit with supplies.
This is familiar territory for 51-year-old Mister Cartoon, who regularly speaks with at-risk youth in various situations, conversations in which he says he strives for a ‘blueprint’ for success: ‘I do not judge them or tell them that this or that don’t, I’ll tell them more what to do: go to Photoshop, Illustrator, learn something your friends can’t do. ”
His attachment to the Clippers helps him get his ‘can-do’ message across, he said, because it illustrates the opportunities that can arise for young people, whether they like art or basketball or something else.
“When I design merchandise they have in their hands, it’s a lot easier to sell (the message); that’s the leverage I get, ”said Mister Cartoon, noting how few players reach the NBA. “But you can work for the machine that turns this off, you can be there, in Staples, you can be in the game. You never know.”
Mister Cartoon’s designs also featured on Clippers merchandise included in the limited edition LA Relief collection earlier this year, with all proceeds going to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles to support emergency relief during the coronavirus crisis.
But his association with the NBA predates his partnership with the Clippers; he has tattooed players such as Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and Kobe Bryant.
In addition to the ink of “Psalm XXVII” on Bryant’s right arm, Mister Cartoon also etched the names of Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, and their three oldest daughters, including 13-year-old Gianna, who was one of nine who died in the helicopter crash. who also killed Kobe in January.
“He came to me for logo work, even before I tattooed him, I always did logo work for him,” said Mr. Cartoon. “It’s a journey to meet these guys, to meet the real superheroes of the world, the guys who can fly and get out of control, drive the best cars and live the best life. And most of these guys are really cool, man, college educated; these kids are smart, man. They are a real pleasure to tattoo. ”
He said he had some preliminary talks with Clippers players about getting tattoos from him, but then the coronavirus hit and shortened those talks for the time being.
In the meantime, San Pedro-born Mister Cartoon will enjoy seeing his vision – the celebrated LA street artist also played a role in this season’s draft – in action on the NBA stage for another season.
“It was unreal to see men, these real athletes, wearing it,” he said. “And when they saw the folks rocking out after the game, hyped on it, they really wanted to get their hands on those jerseys! Sometimes it goes beyond sports, it is a direct connection with fashion. ”
Mr. Cartoon said Snoop Dogg, the high-profile rapper / entertainer and die-hard Lakers fan, told him he was wearing one of the Clippers’ City Edition jerseys.
“He said, ‘I knew you designed it, so I rocked it,'” said Mr. Cartoon. “That’s progress for the Clippers!”
And perhaps for participants in those upcoming “Make Your Mark” workshops who heeded the artist’s advice: “It just comes down to work ethic and visualization, it comes down to how you interact with people and are you easily offended? You must have thick skin. All of those things come into play in being an artist, and … you can apply that to music, fashion, building a house, whatever. ”
“It’s great. One of the best LA artists to work with [with] and do the sweaters. ”
– LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 22, 2019