The Brooklyn born, Queens raised illustrator, kaNO, reminisces his earlier days as an artist and gives his two cents about why you should never stop creating.
Amy – Who is Kano?
kaNO– I’m an artist.
I do Art 24/7. I’m a full time animation artist by day, I guess my 9-5, and on the side I do murals, toys and gallery shows. I’m was born and raised in New York, then moved to Cali 5 years ago.
Amy– Oh nice, what of part New York?
kaNO– I was born in Brooklyn but grew up in Queens, LeFrak City. I Lived in Hell’s Kitchen in my 20s. Of all places, this was my favorite. It was right after 9/11 and crazy cheap since you know nobody wanted to live there but I was like fuck it. It was thee spot, everybody would come over, party, vibe out. It was the dopest place to live.
Amy– What was the earliest accomplishment in your career? That first venture that scared the hell out of you but you nailed in the end.
kaNO– My first make or break moment was for an internship. I was a student but this was the first time that it wasn’t with a teacher or for school, it was out in the real world. I was nervous because it was where I wanted to be and, thankfully, I got it. I grew so much during my time there. It was a gradual progression, I put in a lot of hard work and was recognized for it. MTV was good to me.
Amy– MTV? Not bad for a first job. When we met you mentioned having worked on one of my favorite cartoons ‘Doug’, what other back in the day gems were you able to work on?
kaNO– Back in the day cartoons… Daria, Doug, a show for cartoon network called Kids Next Door, I worked on Ninja Turtles, The Venture Bros just to name a few.
Amy– Daria? No way!
kaNO– (laughs) Yes. I was a character layout artist, I would layout the characters on the backgrounds and key poses, which ends up being the blueprint for the animators.
Amy– Your style of illustration is very distinct, What did your early work look like?
kaNO– Style is something that happens with time. A lot of illustrations are done under direction so with personal work you’re always trying to create your own thing. What you see in my style foundation is a mashup from all the different professional and personal projects I’ve done over the years.
Amy– Was there ever an opportunity you didn’t jump on that you wish you would have?
kaNO– Yeah in my early 20s older guys at MTV would say “you should go to Cali and see what’s out there”. I didn’t think much about it but it stood in the back of my mind. I waited. Waited until I was married with two kids to go out there. You know the old saying “it’s never too late” (laughs). I don’t regret anything. Glad I made my way no matter how long it took.
Amy– If you could get a repost on Instagram from any influential person (dead or alive) that could make you bug out, who would it be?
kaNO– Michael Jordan. I mean that’s if he actually had an instagram, that would be so official! If Keith Haring was still around that would be major, I consider him the godfather of this DIY artist product driven market.
Amy– What would you tell younger self?
kaNO– I would tell my younger self ‘you did well, all your dedication paid off’. No one told me how to move, a lot of my decisions where gut decisions and that could have turned out differently. I used to pull all nighters and I was always working. I would definitely give myself a shout out, I’m glad I was so dedicated.
Amy– What advice would you have for the younger fans fresh out of school?
kaNO– There are times when people stop doing art. They don’t look at themselves like an artist and think ‘if I can’t do it as a job why do it at all’. But that’s not what being an artist is about. It’s such a shame when people stop creating. Keep going, it’s your voice. You will get frustrated without a doubt but you have to keep at it no matter what. That’s my advice.