It’s hard to put Mister Cartoon in a box. ‘Artist’ may be the only proper title for the Los Angeles native and wearer of many hats. Like many of his creative contemporaries, Cartoon’s work spans canvas and category, but his dedication to community and consistency sets him apart from the pack. We caught up with Cartoon at the Nice Kicks Shop to discuss his favorite collaborations, the importance of giving back, and the changing times in the sneaker culture.
Nice Kicks: Of all your sneaker collaborations, which one stands out the most?
Mister Cartoon: It’s hard to really say my favorite because each collaboration came at a different time. When the Air Force 1s were popping out of control, I did that collab, you know what I’m saying? When that quieted down, the Vans OTW collabs were so cool because they let me do what I want the way I wanted the same way Nike did. So for each phase, it was right.
Nice Kicks: You’ve had many celebrity clients as a tattoo artist. Were any reaching out for your kicks when they dropped?
Mister Cartoon: They were. It’s just hard because they make such limited runs that people would be coming like six months later asking for stuff. They have to get it right at the beginning, whether it be a celebrity, shoe head, drug dealer, whoever.
Nice Kicks: How does the design approach differ when the canvas changes from skin to sneaker?
Mister Cartoon: I just look at stuff that I’d want to wear. I’ve got to get a little bit crazier on some stuff because you want it to be seen on the shelf. There’s plenty of stealth shoes out there that are clean and simple, so I let them do that. When I come with it, I really want someone to really recognize it and see it. You’ve got to be careful because you don’t want them to look ugly either. You’ve got to keep it tonal or right there in the middle.
Nice Kicks: Are there any models that haven’t released that you’d like to work on?
Mister Cartoon: I’d like to do a bunch of Air Maxes. I’ve done one-offs with 95s and 90s– just one pair where only I got them. They weren’t even an iD type thing. Sometimes, Nike can make stuff and they don’t even run it because the timing isn’t right. Each shoe takes like one year to do, so you have to block out a year of time, from the sit-down conversation to the product coming out.