Getting Neo-Indigenous with Artist Victor "Marka 27" Quinonez
"I'm just paying homage to our ancestors."
Moving forward and never backward, Victor "Marka27" Quinonez meshes the indigenous art of his ancestors with the modern mediums and culture of today to tell a story all his own through his "Neo Indigenous" style. Nature, philosophy, family, history, cartoon, you name it, he's incorporating it into his work. We talked with the man of many talents to get a deeper look into his dynamic art.
Name: Victor "Marka27"Quiñonez
Nickname(s): MARKA27 aka EL CHINGON
Coke or Pepsi: When I was a kid it was Mexican Coke from the bottle. I gave up soda years ago and would rather have a ginger beer.
Burrito or sushi: Damn! That's a hard choice but I'm gonna go with Burrito especially from El Gran in L.A
Strangest thing in your fridge right now: A ten year old bottle of cheap Vodka nobody wants to drink that's
in my studio fridge.
It's a Friday night, where can someone find you: Either working at my studio in Red hook. Painting a huge wall or having dinner with my amazing wife and creative partner Liza and our kids.
Quote to live by: "There's no such thing as luck, only preparation meeting opportunity."
Every artist should own: A boombox. You can't create a damn thing without music.
Last time you googled yourself: I googled "Marka27 Graffiti" a year ago to find some old graff pics of pieces and freights.
What is the process that goes into designing one of your pieces? Where do you start/how do you get to the
There's no specific recipe for what I do. The process varies from piece to piece. I can tell you that all my work deals with culture and identity. I collect textiles and archives of vintage cartoons, photographs, and study nature, philosophy, and cultures from different regions. I'm telling stories at the end of the day with the work I create. Most importantly I hope to bring attention to artwork created by "US" BIPOC artists. It's not often we are at the forefront in a global art world dominated by white males.
How did you develop “Neo Indigeounous” as an art style? And how would you describe it?
I'm just paying homage to our ancestors. It's my way of staying connected to authentic indigenous cultures without re-creating the past and combining elements that are relevant to me on a personal level. I create my own patterns, graphics, tribal markings as if it's part of a universal community influenced by multiple cultures from African, Asian, Native, Mexican etc. I try not to put myself in a box but it's important to maintain consistency. "I AM NEO INDIGENOUS" I recognize my heritage, my past, my ancestral blood and the master artists that came before me. The "Neo" is what I create now and moving forward never backward.
Where do the faces in your art come from? Real life or artistic muse?
I've worked with close friends who are photographers like Moses Mitchell, Gabriel Ortiz, who photographed people I know, my kids, family for specific murals or paintings. I also collect relevant photos and manipulate them.
Paint or pixel — what’s your preference? Pixel in the winter and paint every chance I get. I prefer a hands-on approach but have over twenty years of experience designing products and working with digital mediums. I appreciate how you can use both pixel and paint mediums to create something new and unique. Pixel wins hands down when collaborating with brands or working on marketing campaigns.
If the streets could talk, what would they say?
BLACK AND BROWN LIVES MATTER!!
How do you decide which cartoon characters to include in certain pieces?
I work with cartoons I grew up watching and also choose cartoons my kids are into. I also like working with cartoons that create racial stigmas and re-define the influence these seemingly innocent images have on us socially. It's important we control our narratives as people of color.
How long have you been growing the braid?
Almost eleven years. It's not for fashion but a way to stay connected to my roots. Braids go back thousands of years in Africa and are a part of many indigenous cultures. Many Natives were forced to cut off their braids while being colonized. I keep my braid as a sense of pride. You will see braids or braided patterns in a lot of my paintings.
Your murals are so detailed — how long does it take to finish one of those big walls?
Every mural is different. I once painted an 80ft tall by 25ft wide mural in six days. These are 14 hour days and sometimes painting till the sun rises the next day. I'm looking for opportunities that allow me to take more time and create work that has the sufficient time and resources that would allow me to produce at a high level without stressing over logistics and constraints.
What’s been your favorite project so far, and why?
It's been a privilege working with STREET THEORY on "Murals for The Movement" . These are murals that help spread awareness on racial and social injustice.
We have a project coming up in Brooklyn that I'm really excited for. Anytime there's a project that allows creative freedom and is meant to uplift, inspire, and empower the community it serves I'm able to produce work at my best level.