Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Graffiti Characters Unite! NYC's Chris RWK and P.O. B.O.Y What Makes Them Both Tick!

Next up on the Graffiti Characters blog is a well known, worldwide favorite who's been in the game for over a dozen years, from New York City's Staten Island - I mean NEW YRWK.  I present to you Chris RWK (Robots Will Kill.)   He has been a highlight and favorite at everything from New York's Comic Con and similar events nationwide to work on the streets and galleries in NYC, nationally and worldwide.  Collectors of all levels are thrilled to add his work to their portfolios.

Chris has developed a most recognizable character and collaborates with a variety of other artists expanding his characters many endeavours.  First, who is Chris?  He says; take some cartoons and add graffiti, throw in some fine art and one line jokes, add music, family and friends and you have ChrisRWK!
At Secret Walls, NYC, July 2016
Chris has been a great friend for years and I'm proud to "formally" introduce you to him (for those who may know know) and his "graffiti character."

When did you first begin perusing art?
Like all kids I drew a lot but when other kids started doing spots I kept drawing. Around 11 I got into graffiti and through high school started taking it more serious.  Senior year my art teacher asked me where I was going for college and I said "community college probably". She said "ohhh no your going to art school". Once I was in college I learned all kinds of new mediums, artists etc.

What is your characters official name if he has one?
P.O. B.O.Y. (Pronounced Po Boy) - which stands for "Prosthetic Organic Bot Of Youth."  

Your art collective RWK has been in existence for a while, how did it begin and how did your character come to be?
I always loved characters. Went from cartoons and comics to skateboard graphics to graffiti, etc. it was mostly the characters that drew me in. But as far as the "robot" it took some time to evolve. The origins go back to the mid 90's. I was really interested in the cube shapes that everyone was taught in school. It really interested me the fact that anyone and everyone drew it. And when you would see it it would bring back memories or emotions of when you drew it. So the cubes then turned into a television in the mid-late 90's. The interest was the connection that most people had with television. The love, hate, the emotions that it brought on. Then it turned into a box head robot around 1999. The interest was also the connection and emotion people had with it. The fascination of technology, robotic emotions etc. I was doing the boy and girl characters that whole time so I wanted to make the robot more human, more relatable. I wanted him to convey emotion but still not be human. 

So around 2000 when kev and I were talking about launching a website I had mentioned "Robots Will Kill". It was a thing I came up with in 1999 while I was doing an art residency in Vermont. So the name and robot became linked together in 2001 when the site launched. So the robots existed beforehand. The name comes from a few things but the main one I've always left was when someone does something so much it becomes robotic and can kill your drive of doing other things or that thing your doing so much.

What do you want people to know about your art character?
He's not always sad.
He's not always happy.
He's someone you walk by everyday.
He might not get recognized.
But he'll always be there.

Your character says a lot of things many are thinking or afraid to say, like me, (puns at street art etc.), which people love. What makes him tick?
He's fueled by many things. I like to make tongue in check observations. Using the characters as a vehicle for what most people think but won't say.  Especially nowadays. People don't wanna insult anyone or fear getting left out if they say something that could offend someone.  It's kinda like the everyone gets a trophy idea.  All art is great, well sometimes that's not true.... a lot of times it's not. I come from the mind set of you can't get better or know what you did wrong if everyone is smiling and saying how great it is. That's not saying people are not good artists, it's just reality. I've done a lot of work I'm not happy with. Not every piece can be great.

You have him on all kinds of medium; stickers, dollar bills, canvases to giant walls – which is your favorite to paint on?
Stickers are always a favorite but changing it up is always fun. Murals are fun. I love seeing the robot small and huge. 

Dumbo/Brooklyn, Sept 14, 2013
Who were your favorite or most influential artists? Or, who is your favorite or most influential artist(s) of all time?
I'll just list a few in no order:  Gary Larson, Jim Davis, Herb Smith, Walt disney and his 9 old men, Sugar Fueled, NoseGo, kaNO, Lou Pimentel, Basquiat, Daniel sprick, Vers718, big daddy Ed Roth, Gaze, Scribe, Jive, East, Cycle, Tuke, all the DF guys really, twist, Nite owl, Flying Fortress, Peeta, Mike giant, Biafra, MCA/Evil design, Kem, Mike Egan, Monty Montgomery, Zimad, Weirdeyeone, Chad Pierce....I'll stop cause I can go on. There's so many artists I like to look at. 

What do you want people to understand or take away from your character?
He's like you in a lot of ways. 

You collaborate often with other artists, who has your character had the most fun with? Anyone special you’d like to collaborate with?
I'll just list a few because each one has a reason why they are fun to collab with:  Veng, Peeta, Jos-L, Mike die, Flying Fortress, JesseR, bob will reign, el toro, Josh?, underwater pirates, simple, Duel, Royce, Matt siren, MQ, Skam Dust, Zero productivity, Nite owl, k-nor, Downtimer, Evoker, air rat, Abe Lincoln JR, Sugar Fueled(Michael banks), Nosego, Vin Rega... I've been lucky and have had the chance to collaborate with a ton of great artists/people.  Sorry to whoever I forgot at the moment. 

With friend and collaborator, Herb Smith also of Robots Will Kill Collective
Tell us anything you’d like about your future plans, goals for 2017 for your character and collective:
Hopefully to continue doing what I do. Maybe travel more.

What music do you listen to while creating, if any?

A lot of the time I have the television on in the background. I don't watch it but just listen. I like radio shows.  Music I like to shuffle stuff. From hardcore to punk to hip hop to Disney soundtracks to ska to old school reggae to old country to old school rock n roll. Pretty much everything except disco and techno. 

Where do you find inspiration?
Lots of places. Family, friends, strangers, society, comics, books, music etc. I like to look around a lot and try to see what's going on. Whether it's a couple fighting and that inspires a sappy piece or it's a few friends busting each others chops and that inspires a funny piece.   I can see someone mopping and it'll trigger an idea for a piece about working etc.

If you could have dinner with one or two people, dead or alive who would they be and why?
Hmmmmmm. If it's people that I don't regularly get to see then I'd probably say Walt disney.  Mainly to try and understand where his mind would come up with such amazing ideas.  And, he's one I've always wanted to talk to.
The other, well right now would be Gary Larson. Mainly because I've been rediscovering his work. I grew up reading it all but hadn't looked at it for a bit. I'd love to see if his regular everyday conversations are as witty as his work. 

On to many more recent photos from Chris and a few going back a some years, see all of his contact info at the bottom of the post and be sure to follow him along the journey!
Above / below at Welling Court, Queens, July 2016
Friend and long time collaborator, Herb Smith
Houston St., East Village, collaboration with Jos-L, March 2015
Instant Art Exposure shot (book in progress)
For all the latest and greatest follow Chris here:
Instagram: @chrisrwk @robotswillkill @forthemassespodcast

All photos taken either by myself or by Chris of his his latest works.  

Please don't steal them or else!