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INTERVIEW: JOSE ‘MUNK ONE’ MERCADO OF UPPER PLAYGROUND

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Munk One’s, awesome ad for Uppper Playground.

Jose, let’s start off this way. You are very well known in the art world, and needless to say, I’ve been a big, big fan for a long time now. For those reading this, for the very few who do not know you, what pieces of your work might they best know you from? Any album artwork or t-shirt designs, stuff like that?

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-The Obama poster Munk created.

Thanks, It’s always nice to hear when people are into my work. I’ve created so much art over the years, its hard to say which ones people may know me from. The ones that come to mind are merchandise designs for Avenged Sevenfold, My Chemical Romance. I just did a design for Blink-182. I work regularly with Upper Playground. The Obama poster I did got around a bit during the campaign as well.

With that being established, give us some info and background on all that is Munk One.

I was born in San Diego, California. I spent most of my years growing up in the city of San Gabriel, a small city east of Los Angeles. I took some art classes at the local city college in Pasadena after high school, but learned most of what I know is from books and hands on experience. I’m 29 now and fortunate enough to still be able to be pushing forward and experimenting on my own.

Your work and portfolio is really amazing, more impressive than most. How do you get hooked-up with a band or group on doing t-shirt designs and other work?

Lately it’s been through word of mouth from people who have worked with me, but I’m also not opposed to contacting people I would like to work with in the future.

In regards to band merchandise, do you ever find yourself wanting to do artwork for a band or group you are a fan of? Has it happened? If so, with who?

One of my favorite album covers I worked on so far is Fire In The Youth by The B-Side Players. I was a fan of the band, so I contacted them one day out of the blue and offered my services in case they would be releasing an album anytime soon, and luckily they were. I enjoy working, not only with good musicians, but good people and those guys are both.

Who are a few influences for you that are dead and/or alive? Let’s also hear influences for you that are art related and non-art related?

There are so many! The Seventh Letter Crew, Bernie Wrightson, Frank Frazetta, Michael Hussar, El Sub-Comandante Marcos, Alex Grey, Immortal Technique, Jay-Z, Bad Religion, friends, and family! Basically those who follow their heart and carve their own path against the odds inspire me to keep struggling towards my goals, whatever they may be.

I know your history pretty well because I am a huge fan, but I must ask: What bands and/or groups are you listening to right now? I know that a lot of the groups you’ve worked with are metal or hard rock, does this mean you pretty much predominantly listen to that stuff?

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-One of my many favorite pieces by Munk. Showing off his variety and versatility.

Actually no, I listen to all sorts of music, the style of art I have found joy in creating in the past has seemed to fit a certain genre, but my personal taste in music is all over the board from one moment to the next. I like Jay-z to Lila Downs, from the Decemberists to Atreyu. Then we have Bjork to Strong Arm Steady. If you take a real look at all of my work and not just the art I create for bands, you can see my influences come from many different places.

The new Blink-182 tee that you recently did, will that be availble on this years tour?

Yes it is on sale at the tour. I believe it’s doing fairly well.

Your Aimless Sketchbooks section on your site is sick. Such a unique and cool idea and concept, yet something every artist or graffiti-artist should have thought of. Where’d you get the idea from? How often do you post?

It just seemed to make sense with the whole blog format. I had seen blogs with peoples sketches, but nothing where you could follow a whole sketch book getting filled up page by page. There were 2 reasons I wanted to start the Aimless Sketchbooks section on my site. 1.) I was hoping the project would get me to sketch more and 2.) Was to allow the public to view rough drawings and ideas I wouldn’t exhibit otherwise. I don’t get to post as often as I would like to but since you mentioned it, I will try to add more soon!

Thanks! You are the shit! That is what I like to hear… Anyhow, what are a few groups or bands that you haven’t worked with that you’d like to eventually?

I’d like to work with all those that inspire me including the ones mentioned previously. Other than those, I’d say Immortal Technique, Them Crooked Vultures, Flobots, Kanye West, and The Dead Weather.

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-Not only yet another favorite Munk piece for me, but definitely my favorite ad for Upper Playground.

I know of a few clothing brands that you have previously worked for, and a few currently. I know you’ve worked with Upper Playground, but they aren’t your most common clothing brand. Let’s hear some other clients…

Tribal Gear, The Hundreds, Vengeance University, Rock & Rebellion. While working with merchandise companies in the beginning of my career, I worked on with a lot of brands you’d be able to find at the local mall, but I’d rather leave those your imagination! Haha…

Personal question: I like to ask every interviewee this question… What are some odd jobs you’ve held down before becoming such a successful artist? Basically, what did you do before you were able to make a good living doing art?

Car Wash: My grandpa had most of his kids and his grandsons work at the car washes that he managed, I think it taught me to reach for something better than drying cars all day in the hot sun!

Ghetto Store: My first major exposure to Vaughn Bode, CONART®, ESDJCO, Tribal Gear, and all sorts of other street wear in one place was in a shop called the Ghetto Store, the grand opening included Cypress Hill, and some of the Soul Assassins guys. During the day, I would read all of the magazines to go through all the clothing, admiring all of the designs.

Quality control in the separationss department of a major screen printing shop: This is where I got the knowledge of what goes into creating a well screen-printed t-shirt.

Impressive. Seems like your ocupations definitely worked towards what success you hold today, and all-the-while enhancing your talent. Anyhow, a lot of friends that are artists and other of my favorite artists have done vinyl toys, and it seems to be a trend now that they are doing one-off projects like those. Maxx242 and The Bandit vinyl figure, Deph and his numerous amounts of vinyl figures for Kidrobot, Jeff Soto and The Seeker figure, Craola One and the Upper Playground Walrus figures, and so many more… Do you have any plans of such a project?

I would like to one day for sure! I’m a fan of all those figures and it just seems like a natural fit.

Are there any events, exhibitions, or projects that you’d like to blast here?

Yeah definitely, Sea No Evil 08.29.2009 in Los Angeles. I have a solo show coming up in Portland, Oregon on 10.01.2009 at FIFTY24PDX. I am also working on a couple of new album covers, so definitely keep an eye out for those! There is much, much more coming up!

Munk man, thanks for doing this interview with us. Any parting words?

Yeah, lets see…
-Thanks very much for the interview!
-JAY-Z;the game,
-I love you Lia J.!
-Yes to Health care reform!
-Defend Equal Rights, Love Unites!
-What? Yeah!
-I’m Out!!!!!!!!

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In conjunction with this interview with Munk-One, I am offering one of his latest t-shirts as a contest for our Contest section.
-(1) Medium Black Munk-One T-Shirt will be given away for this contest. (1) winner will be selected at random on Wednesday, 09.30.2009. A sticker pack will also be sent to the winner. Entrants must submit their full name, age, and shipping address including zip code here no later than Tuesday, 09.29.2009 before 11:59PM. Please specify as to which contest(s) you are entering. If entering all contests, please specify as only one e-mail entry is needed if entering all contests.
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This interview was conducted and edited by M@TT. Posted and transcribed by $C@R.


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[…] you loyal, everday readers have checked-out our latest Debriefing with Munk One, which can be read here . As I have said many a time before, Munk is one of my favorite artists, has such an awesome style, […]

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