In The Studio with RISK
RISK’s pieces are a palpable record of his life and career as an artist. We spent some time in his studio as he talks us through the materials, process, and meanings behind his pieces. Find out what makes RISK’s signature street art legendary.
RISK’s pieces are formed out of colorful, patchwork panels he calls “metallic tissue.” The artist describes this as “his imprint on society.” He takes spray paint cans previously used to graffiti billboards and freeways in downtown Los Angeles and repurposes them into new works of art. He starts of by removing the tops and bottoms from each of the spray cans, then flattens them out with a hydraulic press. From there, he molds the cans by hand to create works like Keep On Keepin On. RISK adds license plates to the spray cans to symbolize “universal love” – regardless of where we are from, what we believe, or what our creed is, we are all united as one. As a Southern Californian artist, RISK believes it’s important to incorporate elements of surf and car culture that is synonymous with the area. He covers each of his works with surfboard resin and car Kandy paint tints.
RISK says the butterfly motifs in his work are a nod to his personal journey from “anarch to monarch.” The butterflies show his transition from the Venice Beach punk rock days of his youth to his life now as a father.
Though RISK does not claim to be a Buddhist in practice, he uses Buddha as a powerful symbol within his work to show the aspects of the religion he is naturally drawn to. He likes to bring out juxtapositions or opposing forces in his work, such as good luck/bad luck, positive/negative and good/evil. He achieves this using contrasting colors and combining hard and soft details. RISK uses neon in place of traditional paints to highlight certain elements of his work. Neon supplies a mood to any environment, whether seedy, sexy, or glamorous.
RISK’s studio is decorated with a trio of baskets filled with spray paint cans and hanging from the ceiling. RISK explains how he comes from a long line of fishermen. Growing up, he learned the phrase “crabs in a basket” – crab cages do not need tops to keep them trapped because they’ll pull each other down. He related this to his rise as an artist. When he began experimenting with different art forms, other graffiti artists took offense to it. RISK keeps the spray paint cages as an ode to his past and a reminder to never let critics pull him down.
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