June 29 2016 10:10 AM

Paul Vetne draws on nostalgia, Mexican heritage

Paul "MexOne" Vetne works in a variety of mediums, including tattoo, painting and illustrations like those shown here.
Photo by Paul Vetne

Paul “MexOne” Vetne, this week’s Summer of Art artist, doesn’t remember exactly when he decided to become an artist, but he’s been drawing for as long as he can remember.

“I don’t think that at a young age I showed any special ability to draw, but it has always been something that I have done,” he said.

Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, the 38-yearold artist works in a variety of mediums, including painting, drawing and mixed media. He has been a professional tattoo artist in the Greater Lansing area for over 10 years, currently based out of the Tattoo Shop on Michigan Avenue.

Vetne, who earned a degree in fine art painting from Andrews University, credits his parents for fostering his creative efforts.

“My father is a ceramic potter and my mother is a musician,” he said. “From a young age, they found it important to expose me to new cultures and places and the art in those regions.”


Vetne believes that the best visual art comes from a combination of education, skill, influences, creativity and life experience. In his art, Vetne draws inspiration largely from his childhood and his heritage.

“I often draw from the imagery of the comic books and cartoons I read and watched as a child,” he said. “I also find inspiration from my heritage in the Mexican muralist of the early 1900s.”

Vetne believes that living in the moment is essential to being an artist, as well as appreciating art.

“My hope is that when viewers walk away, they’ve had a unique experience with the materials I have provided, aesthetically, regardless of my intention,” he said.

In 2014, Vetne co-founded JiveOne5even — pronounced “jive one seven,” a play on Lansing’s area code — with Lansing native Marcus Cottom. The company focuses on shirts and apparel featuring Michigan and Lansing themes. A Danzig-inspired shirt hides Lansing landmarks in the band’s signature skull logo, while another shirt borrows the title font from “Dirty Dancing” and turns it into “Dirty Lansing.” The duo started the company as a way to give back to the community.

“We work with Lansing’s nonprofits as we create public artwork, host benefits and raise awareness of the importance of art education in Lansing’s public elementary schools,” Vetne said.

His goal is to help others, especially children, understand the importance of art.

“Creativity is essential to life; it’s good for you,” Vetne said. “Whether you are doing the creating or viewing it, it is a mutually beneficial activity.”

The power of art, Vetne explained, lies in its ability to disrupt our usual ways of thinking.

“Taking the time to stop and think about something differently than how we are often programmed to think may just be the necessary pause we need to help create a world full of mindfulness and compassion,” he said.

Vetne has a simple message for aspiring artists: Don’t quit.

“If you keep on, you will discover your art is uniquely important,” he said. “We, as artists, have an obligation to this planet. It’s our job to interpret the world.”

To submit your work for the Summer of Art, please go to lansingarts.org. Please read the rules carefully. Pay particular attention to these:

1. If selected, the original art must be given to the Arts Council of Greater Lansing to be auctioned. The artist receives 30 percent of the sale price.

2. Published art will be used horizontally. City Pulse reserves the right to crop or rotate art.

3. Photographs of art that is not intended to be donated (e.g. large sculptures) will not be accepted. Artistic photographs, including photographs of art, will be considered. Please be clear if you are offering the art piece or the photograph for auction.

Questions? Email publisher@lansingcitypulse.com or call (517) 999-5061.