[Cover Photo by Valentina Perez]
It’s always a cool experience to see a crossover between mediums. One such artist to bridge the gap, Ethan Punal, has continued to grow his audience with a constant stream of poppy artwork. Drawing inspiration from the likes of music contemporaries Kali Uchis, Father, and Syd to Andre The Giant and Dragon Ball Z, his vibrantly colored portraits reimagine many of the leading icons in hip-hop and pop culture.
I recently had the opportunity to chop it up with Ethan on his background, development, and plans for the future:
For starters, who is Ethan Punal?
Ethan Punal is just a kid who grew up watching cartoons and playing with action figures who decided real life was not as fun as the ideas in his head. I’m 21 years old now and I am from Kendall in Miami, FL.
How long have you been making art?
I have been creating stuff ever since I was a kid. My mom is a really talented artist and always had my little sister and I finger painting or doing some other creative stuff like that when we were younger. I used to draw whatever Dragon Ball Z character I didn’t have a toy of and use the drawing as a toy, same thing for Yu-Gi-Oh cards.
I began to take it seriously towards the end of high school when my friend Kaelin asked me to be a part of this group he was putting together named Khans. Being around other creative kids who were my age but also wanted to get to a certain level based off their talents was inspiring to me and I haven’t stopped going since.
How would you describe your art in three words?
Super duper cool.
A lot of your pieces are portraits of hip-hop artists. What draws you to the genre?
Rap music has always been the genre that most attracted me. When I was younger my brother would show me a lot of stuff he liked. I remember he bought me College Dropout by Kanye when it came out on CD. When I got to high school he bought me a shitty MP3 player from Best Buy. I would always try and find the best music on LimeWire so I could try and put him onto some new shit whenever he would pick me up. So that kinda got me going on developing my own taste in music. Something about the idea of telling your story in whatever way you can and translating emotions, whether it be flexing, talking about your come up, a significant other, it just seems so raw and passionate to me. I’m also really big into more electronic sounding music like Tame Impala, Toro Y Moi, Daft Punk etc. and a couple bands like The Strokes, The Growlers, Led Zeppelin, etc.
What do you want fans to take away from your art?
I would like to translate the idea of not taking anything too seriously and to have fun. My drawings up to this point are satirical/shitty renditions of really cool people. Every now and again I’ll do a piece that also have some obvious deeper meaning to it and I want them to look deeper into it. Even ask me questions. I want to talk about it. I try and drop drawings every day to simulate the nonstop flow and over saturation we get from pop culture and the media. I’m trying to bore you while still stimulate you visually with some cool shit, if that makes sense. I don’t know if I’m doing a good job, but I’ll probably keep doing it till I’m dead.
You mentioned the oversaturation that’s present in many artforms today. Do you have any advice for the aspiring artists out there trying to get noticed? Is standing out something artists should be concerned with?
It’s really all about just making sure you’re making exactly what you wanna make and being you. It sucks when you start seeing other people get attention and it makes people feel like they need to compromise themselves in order to be more widely accepted, but fuck that. Just do you and shit will come around the way it’s supposed to. The world doesn’t need another pair of leather pants or distressed shit that’s done the exact same way as all the others. Go out and have fun and you’ll make cool stuff and meet people who you’ll actually wanna be friends with along the way.
What’s next for you?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Follow your heart and don’t be a bitch. You’re cooler than you give yourself credit for.