Hip-hop sensibility fuels new L.A. Kings line
|Mister Cartoon, a canvas and tattoo artist, has designed for Nike and Vans, but never for a pro or college sports team.
“Those days, the gear of the Kings was everywhere,” said the 44-year-old canvas and tattoo artist who has designed for Nike and Vans and whose work is popular with children and young adults in the Los Angeles area. “When I first got the call from the Kings asking if I’d work with them, I was high-fiving all of my friends and thinking this was going to be the dopest project I’ve ever done.”
That was three years ago. “These things take a lot longer than I’d have liked,” said the artist, frustrated like others by the 2012-13 NHL lockout. But now, the time has come: The Kings last week began selling a line of apparel that ultimately will include caps, T-shirts and hoodies with Cartoon’s reimagining of the team’s logo. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is expected to wear a Cartoon-designed goalie helmet later in the season.
“Cartoon’s status in this area, with his presence in the youth culture and his art, is viewed by a lot of people as iconic,” said Jonathan Lowe, vice president of marketing for AEG Sports, which owns and operates the Kings. “We saw working with him as a chance to craft a merchandise line, reimagine the Kings brand and create a tie-in with the community.”
|A Mister Cartoon-designed goalie helmet is expected to debut later.
“These kids are from skid row; make no mistake about it,” Cartoon said. “This area has one of the biggest homeless populations in the U.S. The Kings and I both thought that Para Los Niños was the perfect place to benefit from my line.”
Said Avery Bell, director of corporate relations for Para Los Niños, “The funds are needed, but for our kids to have that sports connection to the Kings and an artistic bridge to Mister Cartoon — that’s just as important to us.”
“Many of my followers who haven’t checked out the Kings and the NHL are going to now,” Cartoon said.
The Kings’ Lowe said the club hopes to work with other artists on merchandise lines in the future.
Cartoon, who unveiled a Kings mural at the charter school of Para Los Niños and spoke to the students about creativity at an appearance last month, has never worked with a professional or college sports team before his partnership with the Kings.
“The Kings were a natural for me because I work in black and white and black and gray,” he said, noting that he took about a month to come up his version of the Kings’ marks. “We’re merging the cultures of sports and hip-hop.”