Photographer Estevan Oriol and artist Mister Cartoon turned their Chicano roots into gritty art. Impacting street culture, hip hop and beyond in LA Originals.
The storied iconic duo of photographer Estevan Oriol and graffiti, graphic and tattoo artist Cartoon, is one of folklore. One of legend and certainly one that every urban artist, no matter the discipline, aspires to.
In true Hip Hop fashion, Oriol and Cartoon built an empire from nothing. A real rags to riches story. Oriol’s skills would take him around the world, touring with the biggest names in hip hop. Mister Cartoon’s would take him from tagging walls, to drawing album covers to tattooing the biggest names in music. And now the whole journey can be seen in this Netflix feature documentary.
Asides from being one of the main focal points of the film, Estevan Oriol also directs this film. Using footage he has shoot over the last twenty-five years of his life. Footage that shows the rise to fame of artists like the Soul Assassins and Cypress Hill. Rare behind the scenes and backstage footage of Eminem and House Of Pain – and just about any iconic hip hop artist nameable. Oriol’s cinematic and photographic resume is astounding.
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The list of celebrity names that have come to these two Los Angeles artists is surreal. Being tattooed by Cartoon is worthy of a social media shout-out from anybody who is anybody. Being photographed by Oriol just as prestigious.
It also portrays the lives of some of Los Angeles’ most fearsome gangsters and hoods. Their lives and their connection to urban culture and lifestyle. Through, music, art, car tuning and of course -tattoos. But more than that, this is a study of a family. Not by blood, but by choice. About the importance of culture and sub-cultures. Friendship, dedication and hard work. An underdog fable of making it.
LA Originals is a fascinating look at an entire culture. At a period of time that is recognized and emulated the world over. The film also touches on the effects on gentrification. Which is a curse to lower-income people. A death sentence to artists and sub-cultures. Even world renowned artists like Oriol and Cartoon.
LA Originals begins airing on Netflix April 10, 2020.
Check out the trailer below :