After becoming paralyzed, Edgar Irineo used his artistic and entrepreneurial spirit to start a business in wood burning art. As his business is gaining momentum locally in Chicago he looks forward to growing and expanding. Get to know his story and some fun details about Edgar below!
AGE: 33 YRS
OCCUPATION: Owner of QUEMADERA. I am an entrepreneur focusing on pyrography wood burning art.
CAUSE OF INJURY: It all started when I was 23 yrs old. I noticed having a lot of headaches. About a week after the headaches came I started losing strength in my legs. Vomiting blood caused me to go to the hospital where tests were ran. About a week after getting these symptoms, I was in the hospital and fell into a coma for 2 months. I woke up paralyzed from the neck down. The doctors came back with my diagnosis being meningitis. I spent 2 years paralyzed and with time and physical therapy I started gaining movement at Schwabb Rehab. After going to therapy for 2 years I began to gain movement in my waist going up. I am currently paralyzed from the waist down with daily spasms on my legs. The spasms increase when I am feeling ill. I can feel hot, cold, pain on legs, and the painful spasms.
SIBLINGS: There are currently 4 of us. I had an older brother, Ivan, but he passed away when he was 4 months old due to an illness. I am now the oldest of the 4 of us. I have one sister, Anel, and two brothers, Lalo and D’Carlo.
CHILDREN: No children. “Single and ready to mingle!”
HOMETOWN: Michoacan, Mexico.
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Cicero, IL
EDUCATION/DEGREES: I am a High school drop-out.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS YOU’RE PROUD OF? Even though school wasn’t for me, I was able to teach myself certain life and work skills. I taught myself how to cut hair and became a barber. I was into remodeling and decided to start my own construction company, E.I. Construction. I have always tried starting my own business and running it. No matter the obstacle I always found a way to make sure that I was financially stable.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ART AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED: After my injury, I got depressed and felt that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I always enjoyed drawing, and was good at it. My brother used to work at a lumber yard and brought me some wood and a soldering iron knife, a wood burning kit. He encouraged me to use the tools and draw on the piece of wood. My first piece was an ED HARDY art piece. My sister ended up buying it from me. As I started doing more drawings and designs for my family, my brother showed his boss one day and his boss wanted to meet me. After meeting with him, he decided to give me a room at the lumber yard to work on my projects and also any projects that he had in mind. My brother’s boss gave me the opportunity to work independently because he saw the potential in me and in my art.
WHERE CAN WE PURCHASE YOUR WORK? Currently you can purchase my work through Facebook and Instagram @Quemadera. People can send me a direct message through social media, they can call me or e-mail me as well. Another form of purchasing my work is through the different festivals that I sign up for. I’ve been participating in art festivals, local festivals, and music festivals to sell my art pieces. At first I was doing all handmade artwork but then I wanted to expand myself by creating cell phone accessories (cell phone cases, pop sockets), jewelry (earrings, necklaces), and also home décor accessories (customized plaques for the home or office). My main focus is the handmade customized artwork.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? WHO? WHY? I don’t have a mentor, but I look up to people who have struggled in their lives physically, mentally, and emotionally and have redeemed themselves into a successful person despite the obstacles.
FAVORITE BAND/KIND OF MUSIC/MUSICIAN? I don’t have a favorite band/kind of music. I enjoy all types of music both in Spanish and English: Rock, Rap, Hip-Hop, Pop. Some of these artists include: Tupac, Biggie Smalls, The Beatles, Aerosmith, The Animals, Los Tigres Del Norte, Calle 13 currently known as Residente.
FAVORITE FILMS: I’m a fan of Chicano style movies, documentaries, gangster style films and films based on true stories such as: Stand and Deliver, Goodfellas, Boulevard Nights, Mi Familia, American Me, Scarface, The Godfather, and La Bamba. Scary movies, count me out!
FAVORITE RESTAURANT/FOOD: I enjoy Mexican food a lot and seafood. Tacos al pastor, langostinos (squat lobsters) and shrimp cocktails.
FAVORITE BEVERAGE: When I want to be healthy, I prefer water or mango juice. When I’m out having a good time with family and friends I prefer tequila or Modelo (favorite beer).
DO YOU OWN A CAR? DRIVE? WHAT’S YOUR SET-UP? I don’t drive, I’m looking forward to learning. I get rides from a family members, I use ADA ParaTransit for my transportation needs and sometimes public transportation.
WHERE DID YOU GO ON YOUR LAST VACATION? I’ve never been out of Chicago. I haven’t had the chance to travel a lot after my accident.
DO YOU HAVE A PET? WHAT? Yes, a Siberian Husky. His name is Bandido.
DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN WEBSITE? That is a work in progress.
WHAT’S YOUR DREAM JOB? Owning my own business and being successful at it.
DO YOU WORK OUT OR PLAY ANY SPORTS? I started working out about a year ago, I go to my local YMCA. I don’t play any sports but I am trying to participate in the local 5k runs. Before my accident I did play soccer and was a great dancer.
ACTIVITIES/HOBBIES?? Teaching myself how to do graphic design on the computer, so that it can help me grow my business when using the machines that I have. I want to start creating my own designs for the accessories that I plan on selling.
HIDDEN TALENTS? I’ve got some magic tricks up my sleeve.
WHAT IRRITATES YOU? Disrespectful people
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER AWESOME? People. Despite their struggle they still manage to rise.
WHERE WOULD YOU LOVE TO LIVE? Anywhere near the beach, in a shack on the beach. With a hammock hanging from the palm trees.
WHAT TAKES UP THE MAJORITY OF YOUR TIME? Finding new ways to expand my business. Creating different designs.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? Listen to music, spend time with my dog and hang out with family/friends.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD MORE TIME FOR? Traveling
HOW ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH BACKBONES? I have not had the time to help organize events. I’ve participated in events such as their yoga classes, and 5k runs.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BACKBONES MEMORY? My first Chicago Fire event with BACKBONES. I met good people, and had a great time.
FAVORITE WHEELCHAIR ACCESSORY OR DEVICE? I have been using a manual wheelchair since I first got it and haven’t had the chance to see what devices could be helpful for my needs.
IF I TAKE A LOOK INSIDE YOUR REFRIGERATOR WHAT WOULD I FIND? You’ll find that I need groceries! LOL I guess what you’ll find would be the basics: eggs, meat, chicken, yogurt, milk, MANGO JUICE, waters, veggies, and dog food. Can’t forget the tortillas!
DINNER WITH ANYONE, DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM? With both of my grandfathers since I never met maternal grandfather and since I moved to the USA at a young age I would have liked to spend more time with my paternal grandfather. I would ask them for guidance in life.
DURING YOUR CHILDHOOD WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CARTOON? Animaniacs and Looney Tunes
FAVORITE VIDEOGAME? FIFA and Call of Duty
KARAOKE SONG: I would start off with some Aerosmith followed by LOS TIGRES DEL NORTE.
A LONG TERM GOAL: Having my own art studio where I can work and also have events to show off my artwork.
A SHORT TERM GOAL: Have a store front for the wooden accessories and home décor that I have created.
A QUOTE YOU LIKE: “El respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.” – Benito Juarez translation in English: “Respect for the rights of others is peace.”
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO TELL US? I would like to thank Reveca from BACKBONES. She gave me the opportunity and encouragement to meet others and network with others. I hope to soon participate more in the planning committee and be in attendance to future events. I would like to express my gratitude towards BACKBONES and would like to help someone just like BACKBONES did for me. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their support I couldn’t have done it without them, and a big thank you to my boss Matt Joyce for the opportunity he has given me of working again and helping me expand my business.
FOLLOW EDGAR ON INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK