A project three years in the making finally came to fruition last week, as the Los Angeles Kings debuted a partnership with LA-based tattoo and graffiti artist, Mister Cartoon.
The partnership features two main components – a charitable endeavor to benefit the non-profit organization Para Los Niños, and a cutting-edge LA Kings merchandise line designed by Cartoon himself.
Cartoon grew up in Los Angeles, realized his artistic talent during early childhood, and received his first paying art job at the age of twelve. In order to gain practice and recognition for his murals, he volunteered to paint houses that had been vandalized by graffiti in his neighborhood.
Since his rise to fame, Cartoon has tattooed the bodies of Kobe Bryant, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Eminem, Travis Barker, Bow Wow, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé Knowles, and Snoop Dogg to name a few. His work has also been used by companies such as Nike, Toyota, and T-Mobile among others.
Last Tuesday, members of the LA Kings organization, Mister Cartoon, and his staff gathered at Para Los Niños Charter Middle School in Los Angeles where Cartoon enlisted the help of 10 students to finish an LA Kings-inspired mural. For over an hour Cartoon shared elements of his life and his work with the kids, before asking them to contribute strategically to the mural he had already started and incorporating each of their initials into the painting.
“I wanted to paint something that I felt a lot of people could connect to and I didn’t want to scare the kids, but I still wanted to keep that edge,” Cartoon explained. “I wanted to do a combination of lettering and an iconic image of the goalie with that helmet.”
The mural features the word “Kings” and a skeletal depiction of a goalie wearing a Cartoon-designed mask. After Cartoon finalizes the piece, it will be auctioned off by the Kings, and proceeds will benefit Para Los Niños, an organization whose mission is to help children and families succeed in school and life by closing the achievement gap for children living in extreme poverty.
Para Los Niños serves the children and families of Skid Row, Westlake, Pico Union, East LA, Watts and Compton through their charter schools, early education centers, and community-based programs. Para Los Niños Charter Middle School, the site of Tuesday’s event, happens to be a school where art is a main focus in all elements of learning.
“Mister Cartoon is able to identify with our students – many of our students come from East LA, as did he,” commented Avery Bell, director of corporate relations for Para Los Niños. “So I think he understands where these kids are coming from and can guide them in where they’re going.”
Choosing Para Los Niños as the beneficiary for the charitable portion of the Mister Cartoon project was done strategically by the Kings.
“When we partnered with Mister Cartoon as well as with Para Los Niños for the charitable side of this project, the natural thing was to think that he’s an artist, and this school helps all of these kids learn everything via art,” said Heather Bardocz, director of marketing and events for the Kings. “So it was kind of a natural fit for us to have him do a large-scale piece of art and have kids participate.”
The fact that Cartoon seemed so at-home and comfortable sharing his art with the students wasn’t a coincidence either.
“Para Los Niños is a fantastic organization that’s here to help children. I always find it very important to connect giving whenever I do a major collaboration. We had to pick someone that we felt was our future. All these youngsters here in downtown LA by the STAPLES Center, it’s just natural that we did it with them,” said Cartoon, who was born at California Hospital not far from the school.
On Thursday, prior to the Kings 7-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, the Kings merchandise line designed by Cartoon was unveiled at a private reception inside STAPLES Center and subsequently released for sale at the Team LA Store.
*Check LAKings.com on Tuesday for ‘Perfect Match: Part II’*
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