syracuse side hustles

E4: Monster Maker

Graffiti artist and muralist Tino Lopez works as a cook, but even as he chops and stirs, he’s painting in his mind.
Tino Lopez

People can express themselves with words and I can express myself with drawing or painting or building something. If I'm feeling something, I'm going to make something, put it down. It's my own personal therapy.


Tino Lopez



Side Hustle:




Who is your hustle hero?

My friend Tony Thompson, he’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. He is about promoting everybody. He wants everyone to get a piece of the pie. And he’s just down to hang out, collaborate and create all the time. I would say we have a bromance. He’s definitely my brother from another mother, and it’s not just about the art that he creates, he’s there for you when you need to just talk.

Where do you get your materials?

A lot of times I order from Bombing Science because the spray cans available in the area really aren’t the best quality, and it’s cheaper to buy in bulk online. But a lot of times I do pick up different tubes of paint from the local stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby. Wherever I’m at, if I see paint, and it’s a good price or if I got a coupon, I’m down for that.

Where have you found support in Syracuse for your side hustle?

On Facebook there are different art communities, and they’ll have open calls for artists in different things, and if it’s “calling all artists,” anybody can submit. It’s not just like, ‘Oh, I don’t know how I’m gonna get there.’ You can make a portfolio, bring it to your local galleries and get your name out there. It takes a while. You’ve just gotta keep going, keep perfecting your craft. I learn something new all the time.

One Syracuse area event not to miss?

I really love the Downtown Getdown in Utica. It’s a lot of my local artist friends. At Handshake City, an area, in Utica, vendors sell products they make. It’s really just growing. They have different things, events like Barks and Brews, where you can bring your animals. It’s really great for our community to have such great opportunities for people.

Tino Lopez
The tattoo on Tino Lopez’s neck, a quote from Shakespeare, reminds him to stay true to himself, an idea his grandmother also shared often. “There was no one like you,” she told him. He turns to those words when he feels down. Photo by Ellie Coggins.

Quote you live by?

A few years ago, I got a tattoo around my neck, it says “To thine own self be true,” and I always liked that quote. It’s Shakespeare. I got it so that every time I look in the mirror, I could see it. I spent a very long time not being who I was supposed to be, and I realized that life isn’t always about everybody else. You have to think of your own happiness because it’s your life — nobody else’s.

Connect with Lopez

On Instagram