IVAN ESTEVEZ “KAMI ARTIST”
Exhibiting at Comic-cons not only gives us the opportunity to meet our fans and see what’s new with the convention scene, but it also gives us the opportunity to make new friends and meet some very interesting and talented artists. We met Ivan Estevez, also known as “KamiArtist”, at Wintercon 2018. He is very calm, reserved, humble and has a way with the pen & ink, not to mention, he’s an amazing tattoo artist! He exhibited right beside us in Artist Alley, and we’ve got to say he is definitely going places. So…we just had to introduce you to him. Check it out!
When you were living in the Dominican Republic were there any characters that caught your eye before you came to the U.S.? Living in the D.R was such a long time ago that I only have vague memories of it, however for the last two years of my stay there my mom went to Puerto Rico so I was left with my uncle in D.R. That meant I wasn't paid much mind, so I had a lot of time alone, which I spent "helping out in a "video game cafe". So I grew up playing a lot of video games and seeing the artwork in them. When I wasn’t doing that I would sneak out to explore the valleys and rivers around my town. As I mention this I had a flash back to the carnival and its "Diablos Cajuelos". In hindsight they subconsciously had an effect on me because most of my childhood was spent drawing a lot of demonic looking characters.
Once in the U.S. Dragon Ball Z caught your eye. What exactly about it enthralled you? Color, lines, the animation itself? Describe the moment when that animation changed your life. I think like any kid it was the coolness factor of how the characters looked that attracted me to them. Before that, I was drawing Disney characters and such, so I guess DBZ was in my mind, the cooler thing to draw. I must've been impressed by the animation because now I am having memories of me trying to animate on the computer around the age of eleven or so. It’s funny how these things are so easily forgotten, I haven't thought about that in years.
You have a child. Considering his age, do you feel like your artwork has influenced him in anyway? Is your son an artist as well? Oh yeah he is now nine years old and has been drawing things of a darker nature, I’m sure he picked that up from my work. I hope he ends up doing art too, but I try not to influence him too much in that aspect, so that if he does become an artist it was of his on choosing.
Can you reveal the name of the painter you mentioned in your bio on your website KamiArtist.com; the one you studied under and how working with the painter enhanced your creativity, if at all?
He doesn’t like to be in the public eye so he has no website or anything. I can only disclose his first name, Lyle. Since I never went to art school I always had this feeling that I was missing some knowledge. He helped me figure out what it was and pushes me to do projects of a complexity and scale that I could never have imagined doing on my own. He helped me drop bad habits one picks up during self-learning and that has helped me become a more serious, focused and open-minded artist.
For you, is tattooing the same process as applying ink to paper like drawing? Meaning, are you in the same head space? One is an inanimate object and the other could “sneeze”. In my opinion, and many tattooers will disagree, tattooing and traditional media are extremely similar, so i try to approach them the same. My tattooing and my drawing correlate with each other, so one helps improve the technique of the other and painting helps me with my color theory and color layering. There are many examples of artist who accepted this mentality and constantly improve because of it.
What is it about tattooing that drew you in to making it part of your life? The ability to be able to make it a full-time career and still have plenty of extra time to paint. Also the huge amount of people one gets to meet; one never knows where inspiration comes from but often for me they come from hearing other peoples stories and the affect they have on me. I have always been extremely introverted (still struggle with it every day) and being a tattoo artist has forced me to learn social skills I would have never picked up locked in a studio alone.
Which came first for you, Tattoo conventions or Comic-Cons? Did one lead you to the other? Tattoo conventions came first. I've been doing those for about five years, and although I do sell my artwork at tattoo conventions, people mostly go for the tattooing. Being more than just a tattooer is very important to me, so I wanted to find a venue where my paintings and drawing were the main attraction. Being that my work is comic and fantasy inspired, I figured what better place than comic and fantasy conventions.
It seems that there is a lot of spirituality in your process. Please tell us more about this. I think because the nature of being the artist and the struggle that it brings for some, there's a lot of insecurities that are constant in my mind that cant help but for it to show up on my work. I was brought up Catholic but I am not completely sold on religion however. It remains in the back of my mind and so I often struggle with my beliefs and emotions. People often wonder why I draw dark stuff but also draw angels and other "good things". Most of the time those are my feelings spilling out into my work, but often there are things that just come to my head or I dream about. The book "The Artist Way" resonated with me on a higher level. It speaks of the "Creator" and us artist being its tool to communicate with the world, but its up to us to keep ourselves sharp and ready to translate the message. I might not be paraphrasing what it said in the book but this is what I took away and it has helped put my mind at ease and even come up with my brand (KamiArtist) growing up. I had a heavy obsession with teaching myself Japanese so I combined it into the name.
Any upcoming events? Where can fans of your art find you next? I would like to do more Comic-cons this year, however I have clients in different states that I only get to see during tattoo conventions, therefore I’ll be doing a lot more of those. But if you would like to find out where I will be next, signing up to my mailing list on my website or following me on Instagram are good ways to keep updated.
We’re already following you Ivan! Check out Ivan’s website at www.KamiArtist.com and his Instagram @kamiartist. We’ll be sure to keep you filled in on any updates with Ivan.