Netflix’s new documentary LA Originals explores the Los Angeles street art scene and already has fans excited.
Taking viewers back to the early 2000s, the documentary follows the rise of the Chicano and street art movement and the two LA artists, Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol, who were instrumental in introducing the culture to the mainstream.
Hip-hop fans may already know of Mike Machado, aka Mister Cartoon, a tattoo and graffiti artist who’s tattooed the likes of Eminem, Xhibit, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, and many many more.
And while you may already be familiar with Mister Cartoon and his work, who is his partner Estevan Oriol?
Keep reading for a quick intro to Estevan Oriol, a behind-the-scenes artist who documented the early years of the movement and helped put Chicano culture on the map.
Estevan Oriol is a bonafide hip-hop legend.
He started off as a bouncer, and now Estevan Oriol is best known as a photographer who documented the early years of hip-hop.
He got his start as a tour manager for Cypress Hill and House of Pain, and during that time he began documenting their lives on the road.
As he puts it in the trailer of LA Originals, “I’m on tour with the Beastie Boys, No Doubt, the Fugees, Limp Bizkit. And I’m the only one there with a camera.”
Estevan's background also allowed him access to a lot of spaces that traditionally wouldn’t have been photographed. He was able to capture the dual nature of Los Angeles, documenting the rising stars of hip-hop and celebrity stardom while also capturing Los Angeles’ urban and gang culture.
Like a historian, Estevan goes through his archival footage in the documentary, showing audiences a side of Los Angeles that is usually just a backdrop to most people’s stories.
Skid Row and its gangs, homeless people, addicts, and vagrants all play a central role in Estevan and Mister Cartoon’s life, and the documentary doesn’t shy away from showing this.
Estevan's star kept rising after he got his start as a photographer. In 2004, he was part of the team that brought the world the landmark video game “GTA San Andreas.”
He also began directing music videos of big-name acts of the day like Cypress Hill, Blink 182, D12, and more.
How did Estevan meet Mister Cartoon?
Estevan and Cartoon have been working together for 25 years now. They met at a record release party for which Cartoon had done the cover art, and the two hit it off after realizing they were the only two Latinos at the party.
They soon understood that they both were on the same mission, which was to take their artistic careers to the next level and travel the world.
The two joined forces and became longtime collaborators who achieved their wildest dreams. Today many of Estevan's photographs like the “LA gang sign” are absolutely iconic, while Cartoon’s tattoos and artworks are as unmissable as a Banksy.
And now the two artistic legends look back to tell the story of their own legacies though this great documentary that looks back on the rich history of Los Angeles and the history of the city that made the rise of Chicano art possible.
LA Originals is now streaming on Netflix.