“I’m hungry…everyday I’m hustlin’. I have to hustle a job, then do it. Go hustle another one, then do it….it’s a constant grind.”
Estevan Oriol has made a name for himself due to sheer perseverance. After his role as Cypress Hill’s and House of Pain’s tour manager for a combined 13 years, he’s successfully established himself at the forefront of urban LA photography. Oriol is half of the creative vision behind Joker Brand in conjunction with his homey Mr. Cartoon, and has done well to solidify his stake as one of the keynote names on Upper Playground’s roster of clothing and accessories.
In September, he released his “LA Women,” photography book which has gotten great reviews, and has further etched out Oriol’s place as the guy who can best capture images of people you rarely see images of. Whether homey’s in East LA, or a Xzibit posing for a magazine cover, Estevan preserves the pride of his subjects, despite the fact that mainstream media hasn’t. Some people just see gang members covered in tats, but I don’t tend to give a shit about those people in the first place. (Why else could it be that Oriol is one of the only guys taking these types of pics? Hmmm). Despite his success, Estevan’s still hungry. He understands his role as historian via film, and sees no reason to stop capturing the world from angles less-traveled.
EL: Recently I was talking to a friend of mine, another photographer, about how I view your work from the scope of history. As if you’re cataloging a fairly specific group of people from a particular time and place…You ever think of it that way?
Oriol: Sometimes when I look at my photos, I do. But because I didn’t set out to do that, I only think about that when I see all the photos I’ve done.
EL: What was the first photo you got paid for?
Oriol: It was either a lowriding story for Fine Mag in Japan or a Sucker Clothing catalog.
EL: Your “LA Women” book is a hot topic these days…you pleased with the finished product? The subjects are perfect, you seem to have done your thing…
Oriol: Yes, I must say, I’m very pleased with the finished product. I was talking to my bro Muggs yesterday, it’s very similar to a record. You have to work at it if you want it to move, otherwise it’ll just sit on the shelf.
EL: Do you really care if fools other than your clients like your work? I guess I’m asking, do you care about the “art world,” or are you solely focused on the client?
Oriol: I’m pretty sure everyone cares if you like what they do, it’s human. But if someone doesn’t like it, I don’t get hurt. You can’t make everyone happy.
EL: While I was writing these questions, I thought about how dope it would be if you took pictures of urban settings all over this country…..
Oriol: Yeah, I was the tour manager for Cypress Hill for 10 years, and House of Pain for 3, so I did a lot of traveling. We went to 44 countries and every state in the US. Some places I have a lot of photos of…
EL: As far as international destinations, which was your favorite to photograph, and why?
Oriol: Japan, Brasil, Mexico, France, China, Cuba, Jamaica and Panama…because of the culture there, and they’re the places I took some of my best photos.
EL: What camera do you use most?
Oriol: My Canon AE-1 is always close to my side.
EL: You’ve got a line of products with UP, but don’t have you have a few other entrepreneurial projects goin’ on?
Oriol: Yeah, I did a collabo before with Famous Stars and Straps, Suru, Tits, Stussy, Neighborhood, Adidas, and Diamond Supply.
EL: I heard you say in your interview in “The Run Up,” that you’re “unemployed” until you actually shoot someone’s photos. Do you think it’s the fact that you run your whole operation that keeps you hungry?
Oriol: Oh yeah, I’m hungry…everyday I’m hustlin’. I have to hustle a job, then do it. Go hustle another one, then do it…its a constant grind.
EL: Where do you hope to be in 20 years?
Oriol: Doing some films with about 20 more books out, and still taking photos, goin’ around the world.