WE’RE IN A NEW CULTURAL MOVEMENT IN WHICH IF YOU WANT TO THRIVE you’ve got to be a polymath—a Renaissance man, proficient in a number of areas. Mister Cartoon is street culture’s best multihyphenate: a tattooer-graffiti-artist-marketer-designer-car-products-maker. And the latest hyphen, from the Sanctiond line of car products, comes from his very first love.
“I was into cars before tattoos,” Cartoon says. “When I was a kid I used to go to car shows with my old man and got hooked.” But for a little guy of limited means, he felt cheated because his hobby was an expensive one. “My father told me that I just needed to become necessary,” Cartoon says. “I saw this old guy at a car show airbrushing a T-shirt and I thought that I could take that old guy out. It took me a couple of years to get good, but when I was 16 to 20 years old I was airbrushing people’s cars on T-shirts to make money. I also bartered to combat the expensiveness of cars. I would paint a mural in someone’s shop for audio equipment or airbrush someone’s trunk for a paint job on my car.”
He took the system of art for goods—and the goal of making himself “necessary”—to the tattoo shop when he got into ink. “I would go to Spotlight Tattoo and trade drawing patterns and flash for tattoos,” Cartoon says. “I could draw a dragon or some other shit quicker than the tattoo artists, and they needed new flash.” Then when he started tattooing, he turned the money he made into auto parts. “Some people may want to spend their money at Cracker Barrel, but I tattoo to get cars.”
When he got serious about making his own products to take out Turtle Wax, Cartoon thought of the design first. “Sanctiond has been on my mind for a lifetime, but I had a moment of clarity two years ago when I started drawing bottles— that’s when [starting the company] became a necessity,” he says. At the same time he was working on perfecting the packaging, he and his Sanctiond team were in the laboratory testing out different concoctions that would become part of the line (Cartoon’s favorite is the Brite-White wall-tire scrub). “The bottle speaks to the youth, and by that I mean anyone who listens to rap or rock music and has a tattoo and style,” he says. “It’s sort of the FUBU of street car care.”