You can barely get around Downtown LA these days without seeing something new from Reef Kills Pop brightening up a wall with his signature sarcastic charm. Reef is a prolific Los Angeles-based artist who has overcome some incredible challenges and hardship to get to the place where he is today – taking the city by storm with an impressive array of colorful work. I’ve been lucky enough to check out some of his original canvases in person too. He’s definitely an interesting character and I’m stoked that you’ll get the chance to learn a bit more about him here. You can also follow him on Instagram and check out his website for his online store and gallery. Thanks to RKP for taking the time.
Where are you today? Peace! I’m up in Pasadena CA.
What are you doing/working on? Couple of graphics for Tees and a painting.
What was your introduction to art? Keith Haring and those T&C designs in the mid ’80s…Later on, all the stuff from HIT + RUN through Abcnt.
Are you self-taught or formally educated? Self taught..not much formal education at all. I’m pretty much learning as I’m going along and have always leaned on learning from direct experience. I hate school and I’m actually proud that I dropped out of high school early. I know it sounds crazy and ignorant, but I fully believe in being self-taught and not relying on any school systems or institutions. Direct experience all the way.
When did you decide to go all out and make a life of this? I was at my lowest point about 3 years ago going through a heroin addiction which lasted about 13 years off and on. I got sentenced to 4 years in state prison and was fighting my case in county jail and started drawing to pass the time doing tat designs for gangs, I think about 6 tats. It was pretty fun and got the ball rolling. By the time I got out I was interested but slipped back into my old habits and ended up on the streets homeless and really fucked up. I had a failed suicide attempt that got me into a psych ward and rehab. That’s when it clicked and I took it serious. Ever since then its been on non-stop. Straight addiction replacement and art therapy.
What are some of the ideas you’re exploring or playing with in your work? It depends on what I’m doing at the moment. But for the most part it’s how I can annoy people. Some work has a degree of awareness. I’d like to think I’m putting up a mirror and showing people what’s going on. Other stuff has subtle sarcasm. I’m currently working on Middle Eastern-themed art…Just curious to see how people react to it.
Where do you find inspiration? No inspiration needed really.
You’re up all over the place in LA – how important is getting out and getting up to you?
I like the idea of getting different shit out and not sitting around..it’s important to keep things moving.
Got any future plans or projects coming up? Working on a book, show next year, product and a new series..and new ways to annoy people haha!