Monday, August 30, 2010

Munoz Brothers-- Brothers Deep, Thicker Than Skin

Beto and Jimmy Munoz
Rising Phoenix tattoo
19W330 Lake Street Addison, Il 60101
Beto and Jimmy Munoz have been putting in the time to take things to the next level, a move that is fast-tracking them to the top of this tattooed nation’s favorites list… and they are real flippin’ sweethearts. I got a chance to meet up with them at their shared two flat near downtown Chicago and was warmly greeted by a whole family of awesome, including a heart-breakingly gorgeous bulldog named Gordo. This dogman  makes everyone love him without remorse. Looking around the space I was instantly in love with the ambiance; munny dolls in progress, huge colorful canvases (and two blanks), a large meeting-room styled dining table, and lots and lots of friends.  The kind of spot that tells a story of deep interconnected fun and creativity.
Beto Munoz, Rising Phoenix
The brothers Munoz grew up in the Chicago and surrounding areas: four years difference between the two of them, they agree they had very different up-bringings. Beto began tattooing six years ago, and brought Jimmy on as an apprentice only after he had finished college. Both are now tattoo full-time at Rising Phoenix Tattoo and always travel together.
Though it is natural in an apprenticeship to pick up the habits of your maker, the two have very distinct styles and preferences. Jimmy rocks Neumas and Aaron Cain machines, while Beto uses the Stigma Hyper and Aaron Cains. Both use a mixed pallet of Intenze Ink because they love working the thickness of it but swear by Eternal’s entire red collection. Their styles are sophisticated and precise, with Beto having more seniority and subsequently, more awards.
Jimmy Munoz, Rising Phoenix
They finish each others sentences, edit each others responses, bring home awards at every convention, and kick serious ass at Rising Phoenix Tattoos in Addison, IL. These two guys are crazy motivated, and for certain, are in it together.
So, what were you guys into as kids?
Jimmy: I loved video games, so mostly I drew a lot of sonic the hedgehog-type stuff.
Beto: I would make horrible Homer Simpson stuff with Metallica hair and t-shirt --- It all went from there, Jimmy: He wanted to be a comic book artist when he was a kid… then graffiti, now tattoos.
Both: We’re happy where we’re at
So have you guys always been creative, into art?
Beto: We collected comic books, during the big 1990 “comic book explosion”
Jimmy: We collected for the artists, the stories pretty much sucked, but the art was fantastic. We didn’t really read them much. Todd McFarlane, Simon Bisley: there was quite a few. That’s most of the reason we went into art ourselves
Beto Munoz, Rising Phoenix
Comic Books, huh? Did you guys get in a lot of trouble?
Jimmy: Beto more than me. We did a lot of graffiti and stuff
Beto: I was an angel.
Jimmy: I was his 10 year-old look-out, they put me in a grocery cart and threw me against the wall. They would make me do a lot of stupid things and I wanted to ‘cuz I just wanted to be cool and hang out. Then they would tell me they wouldn’t do it again, I’d get back in the cart, and (of course) they would do it again.
Beto: I got expelled for tagging my own name—there wasn’t any other Beto’s at my high school. Hahah.
Sounds like you’re working through some therapy, Jimmy.
Jimmy: yeah, this is very therapeutic.
How cool is it to have a brother?
Jimmy: Beto has tried to suffocate me, and he was always really mean too.
Beto: He‘s my best friend. It’s a buddy to do everything with.
Jimmy: …you live with someone long enough…
What’s cool about tattooing for a living?
Jimmy Munoz (artist, Rising Phoenix)
Jimmy: The pride and self satisfaction that you get from doing a better tattoo. I use to work in the office world and wasn’t happy with the fact that my work or effort truly didn’t affect the outcome. Now I can try my best to be better and see it in a customer’s face and do better than the last tattoo.
What sucks about it?
Beto: I dislike all the divisions amongst tattooists. It seems like everyone's own style is the only way to do things and it is so far from the truth. Art is what we create whether it be on skin or on a canvas. Just because your style is different than mine doesn't make me or you a better artist, just different. And different is a good thing. It would be a very boring world if we were all the same.
What’s rad about tattooing together?
Jimmy: It’s a lot of competition, it’s fun.
Beto: It’s inspiring. Skull light bulb.
Jimmy: YEAH, like the other day I SAID I wanted to do a skull with a light bulb coming out of it, then BETO’s client came in and said “do whatever you want.” SO BETO TATTOOED MY SKULL LIGHTBULB IDEA… and it was sick as fuck.
Beto: We do conventions a lot together, its always challenging.
What’s up with your work--where’s your style heading?
Beto: My style has changed a lot over the last two years. I was into illustration, then new school, realism, and finally I have recently fell in love with surreal organics/ biomechanical. It is a combination I feel of all these styles together.
Jimmy: I have been jumping around from new school to realism to neo traditional a lot lately. I really enjoy doing bio mech and organics but not many customers like to do it HAHAHA. I want to be an artist that can tattoo anything at anytime. A wiz with a tattoo machine.
Your favorite kind of project?
Beto Munoz, Rising Phoenix
Jimmy: Organics are always fun to do and take a long time to do. I am currently doing a whole organics piece on my good friend and its super fun.
Beto: My favorite project is someone who lets me combine all the styles into one: to make a free flowing tattoo. Of course It’s that much better when you can get paid well for doing what you love. It doesn't happen often though. If someone comes in with a tattoo that I feel will not be a good tattoo image. I will go far and beyond to make the tattoo better than what they originally wanted. I try to educate the public on what we as artist are actually capable of doing. Sometimes the public is very uninformed.
So you live work, and vacation together… how does that feel, how do you keep separate identities?
Jimmy: We’re different-he’s the quiet one, I’m the loud one.
(HAHA, so UNTRUE! Beto was a natural born model, Jimmy was shy)
Beto: I love seeing new places and doing new things. It is all about making different memories.
Jimmy: I love to do adrenaline sports: I Sky dive, bungee jump, rock climb, etc. I also love riding my motorcycle around. Sometimes I just jump on and ride for hours with no destination.
Do tattoo’s hurt?
Jimmy: Hell yeah. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Some spots hurt more than others but they always hurt. The people that say they don’t hurt are the ones that get a ten minute tattoo. When you sit 4 to 6 hours it’s completely different.

I want a tattoo, how much for something "this big"?
Jimmy: Ha-ha. The truth is I can give you a cheap tattoo or give a tattoo that you and I will both be happy to with. If someone gives me a fun project with free artist range am usually pretty cheap because I don’t want to lose them. Hey am I sucker for fun tattoos HAHAHA
Jimmy Munoz, Artist, Rising Phoenix
Beto: Anywhere from 60 to 9,345,456.78. Not sure but that is my ball park figure. How much is a house?
Do you love “ho’s”?
Jimmy: Of course I do. I love Christmas time. Santa Clause is awesome HAHAHA I mean Ho’s are fun sometimes I guess but the truth is a girl that I can take on vacation and go see a movie with is much more fun.
Beto: In different area codes? Sorry that's like asking if I like food. Everyone loves ho's, they have so much love to give and they want to give it to everyone. Truly children of the lord.
What’s a girl gotta do to get a t-shirt around here (merch links, etc)??
Jimmy: HAHA. Just get a tattoo. We actually give out a free t shirt with every tattoo. And if it’s a hot girl, we give her two. So she can be a walking bill board of hotness.
Beto: Give me 5 bucks.
What’s in your plans for the future?
Jimmy: Keep doing into a lot of conventions get in some magazines
Beto: No-no-no! “BE the best we can be and live the American dream…”
These guys rule things. Check ‘em out and get you some.

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