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Artist uses talent to make a living (w/video)

By JR Ortega
Feb. 17, 2014 at 6:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 16, 2014 at 8:17 p.m.

Amador Molina, 22, draws in a room at Primal Instinct Tattoos in Victoria. Molina is studying to be a tattoo artist while also producing his own creations on shoes and prints for his customers. Molina often replicates popular characters from animation and TV shows for the orders from fans of his work. His Instagram, NoahsArtCustoms, has gained him a steady stream of requests from 20,000 followers.

Like his art?

You can follow Amador Molina's artwork via his Instagram at NoahsArtCustoms. To place an order, visit noahsartcustoms.webs.com.

When Amador Molina's marker hits the drawing pad, magic happens.

Cartoon creations only seen on television come to life with every stroke - every hue - as he loses himself in his projects.

The 22-year-old Victoria resident has already made a name for himself online and in the community. With hopes of going to art school one day to further his talent, he sees himself doing nothing else for the rest of his life.

"I don't do anything else but my artwork," said Molina from his office space at Primal Instinct Tattoo. "This is about enjoying yourself. If you're not relaxed, art can be very hard, and your emotions can completely take over."

What started as a curiosity at the age of 8 has become a daily routine, a way of life and a large social media presence.

Amador has more than 20,000 followers on his personal Instagram account and more than 29,000 followers on a second account, which he uses to promote the artwork of others who draw.

His online identity has garnered him attention and sales to celebrities like the New York Jets' Antonio Cromartie, as well as a voice actor from the animated series "Adventure Time" on Cartoon Network.

But the celebrities are a dime a dozen, he said. He makes most of his money from everyday followers who send in requests for anything from drawings to custom drawings on shoes. Drawings on Vans are his most popular product - including the pairs he sold to Cromartie and the voice actor.

On any given day, he's working on more than seven projects. Depending on the project, he can finish most in a day, he said.

These days, he survives solely on these sales, many of which he sells for anywhere between $100 to $200, depending on the request. But it was not too long ago that he was the true definition of a starving artist.

In 2012, he worked for Dow Chemical but was let go. At the same time, his older brother drowned in San Antonio, and a day before that, his son, Noah, was born.

His brother, he said, was his biggest fan.

"He was always pushing me to draw," Molina said, holding onto the graduation ring his brother left him. Molina now wears it as a necklace.

When Molina first started pursuing his interest in drawing as a career, his brother fully supported him.

That's why another one of his mementos - his brother's wallet - is valuable to him.

"My brother would pull out this wallet and pay for me. It was a really bad feeling at the time - shameful," he said. "Now that I can pay for my own stuff, it's cool to use the same wallet."

With his last check from Dow, Molina spent $1,400 on markers and other art supplies and threw himself into his art.

The markers he uses, Copic, are different from acrylics, which he feels set him apart, he said. Copic markers are alcohol-based.

Riley Rivera, a friend who has known Molina since the 10th grade, has never purchased anything from Molina but finds his work amazing.

A student in her business management class owns a pair of Molina's shoes.

"I think it's awesome. He puts a lot of hard work and dedication into what he does. It is not only a business to him but a passion," she said. "Each and every thing he creates is different and unique in its own way.

That passion is clear in his work as he flips through one of his many drawing albums. Molina said he can see his growth, from drawings of Deftones' Chino Moreno to cartoon characters.

"This is something that will always be a part of me," he said.

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