At first glance you might look at one of Ian Cinco’s wacky & surreal drawings and think to yourself, ‘this is incredible! What the heck is this guy smoking?’ For me, it brought to mind the famous quote from Oscar Levant; “There is a fine line between genius and insanity.” Cinco’s creative talents stretch far beyond his eccentric, funny and detailed sketches, as the artist has proven himself versatile in a variety of mediums.
Born and raised in Smithtown, Long Island the multimedia artist, writer, producer, and director Ian Cinco became obsessed with comics at a very early age. He was inspired by the comics and the Sunday funnies section in his local newspaper, (Fun fact, Calvin and Hobbes is still Cinco’s favorite comic!) as well as superhero sagas by Marvel & DC. Cinco felt destined to become a cartoonist.
Cinco recalled a time when his elementary school teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. “My dad had a lot of cartoons and books around, but it was the Jim Lee era of X-Men that really got me into comics.” He explained, “I didn’t think I was great at drawing when I was kid, but other people considered me to be so I took art classes.”
While attending middle school he made and sold necklaces by working out deals with his teachers where he would have five minutes before class to sell them. Cinco used his side money to buy comic books. “I worked lots of jobs just to buy comic books… I went to my local comic book store so often that I ended up working there.” He told me, “that was my only real dream job as a kid. Now, there’s no such thing as a dream job anymore because I’m living it.”
“I worked lots of jobs just to buy comic books… I went to my local comic book store so often that I ended up working there.” He told me, “that was my only real dream job as a kid. Now, there’s no such thing as a dream job anymore because I’m living it.”
My first introduction to Cinco was in August of 2021 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where he and a few other artists were painting for the Brooklyn Comic Con. Six long wooden boards were lined up against the brick wall of an old factory building located across the street from the main area where all of the vendors and tents were set up. Each artist was provided with a playboard to paint. I felt like a child in a candy store as I photographed the artists working simultaneously.
I watched Cinco freestyle sketch a female comic character called ZUZU, a character he created for his comic book series, Neon Spring. I was in awe. Her hair was black and purple. She was beautiful and sexy. Her stance was bold and powerful. An enamored crowd of spectators stopped to admire his work and take photos.