Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I think being able to hear the history and personal triumphs of artists helps a lot of people navigate themselves to a career in that they would be happy in. So can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your experience in the world of graffiti? How long have you been doing this professionally?
I am a graffiti artist from west palm beach, Florida. I am 27 years old and started painting in 2010 (I guess a spoiled fancy paint can generation kid ?) I go By the name RIPES. I push two crews:
LMA (Lynn Mass Appeal, a Boston based crew ran by my very close friend VENOM, he is one of the first “established” writers to ever show me the ropes and accept me as I tried to get my foot in the door) and MSG (Miami Style Gods, a Miami based graffiti crew, the first graffiti I ever remember seeing in my area was these guys, I remember wishing to myself I could be as good as some of these guys, somehow managed to catch their attention over the years and was adopted, still a lot of catching up to do to be on that level but I’m not stopping any time soon). As far as graffiti (real graffiti) goes, I’ve had my fair share of experiences and debauchery, and more charges than I’d like to admit on my record ? but it is part of the culture as a wholePainting (for money) is something I do as often as possible, I work a normal full time job at an office when I’m not painting and my hope is to one day not need that job anymore and completely support myself off of painting. I think the first time I was ever paid to paint professionally was for a restaurant in coconut creek, Florida called Burger Stop. Me and Venom smashed it out in a few sleepless nights and walked away with a few grand each and from that second we knew we had to push for as many of these jobs as possible.
Was there any time when the prospect of doing art as a job seemed to be daunting, any time you thought “well this might just end up being a side gig” or anything like that? What is the most difficult part of what you do that people don’t expect to hear from a professional?
Yes, every single job is daunting and full Of “Im tight on cash but I can pay you with exposure” or “I’ll get back to you when I have the money” or as soon as you finish painting 6 days in a row (all while the client watches) you get a “I love it omg!!! BUT can you change this this and this”
The most difficult part is not snapping on clients who don’t know what they want or not fighting with Venom when we clash on design ideas.
How did you transition from doing this just as a hobby to as an actual career, what were the first steps that an artist who has a good skill level should take? Should they offer their mural painting services for free? How did you get started?
Well I just slowly started receiving messages wanting walls painted and at first it was exciting and I jumped at any wall no matter what not even asking for money sometimes not even materials just so I can get some practice in painting stuff I was uncomfortable painting, but just as time went on and you realize your worth and get tired of feeling like a puppet when the person pulling the strings isn’t paying for the paint or the one In the blazing hot Florida sun actually sweating and painting. It was time to set prices.
I see you like to make music as well is there somewhere where people can listen to your music? Do you do live events or is this something he do as a hobby?
I love making music almost as much as I love painting, I have sold my beats before and even won local beat battles in my area, but it is definitely just a hobby. Nothing like digging through boxes and boxes of records looking for samples to flip, kind of like looking at old graff pictures looking for inspiration and letter-shape ideas.
The mad scientist has become like your logo character was there any particular inspiration for this character? I see a bunch of 90s cartoon and game influenced designs so I’m curious what the actual inspiration is.
There is no real reasoning behind my mad scientist, or any characters I do, usually we just plan on painting burners then whatever colors are left over I’ll try and think of a character I can make with them. But it first came about because I just was tired of doing the same 5 letters over and over…. and over and over… and over…. so I stepped away from it and tried something new and the scientist just happened to be the first one I tried, he’s funner to experiment with since he’s basically memorized at this point.
There is a couple of pieces on your instagram where you mention that you dedicate yourself entirely to your craft, is this something you do by choice or do you do this because in order to make a living doing what you are doing it requires you to be on 24/7? Do you ever think you will ever look back and regret connecting more with a social circle? Or do you feel like the community graffiti gives you is enough?
No, it doesn’t require me 24/7. But I require it 24/7. I always think about what it would be like to be 40 years old and not have reached the level of skill I’ve set out to reach. I feel like friends and family will be there regardless if they are your real friends and family. The circle will grow as I meet people trying to achieve the same thing I am. As long as I end up reaching the level I want to reach I don’t mind if every single person I know is a part of the graffiti community. I will be happy with my achievements.
You also have acouple of shots of you teaching kids how to spray paint. How did you get involved in teaching and how often do you get the chance to teach?
It just came about very randomly a youth group for troubled kids and teens messaged me asking if I could demonstrate how something that seems wrong and bad can be a used in a positive way as well. So I messaged a local art district and they let me go over an older piece I had to let the kids have some fun and learn.
My involvement is just teaching them spray paint is just another medium like any other. Whether it’s letters or cartoons or realistic portraits just make sure you’re having fun with whatever you’re doing. And I will always tell kids who ask me for advice one thing: you can wake up any day of your life whenever you decide and you can go outside with a can of paint and bomb and tag and this and that, but you can’t just wake up one day go outside with a can and decide to drop a burner or a character, that takes years of practice, so get some practice in before you go showing the world. Oh and stay out of Trouble ?
What kind of movies, books, music or art is inspiring you right now? What do you listen to when you paint these days?
As far as movies and television go I don’t really use any of that for inspiration, it’s more just ambient noise in the background when I’m at home painting a piece so I don’t go crazy from the silence. And tons of art inspire me, endless artists with the style and skill I’m trying to reach inspire me everyday. Every time I see a sick Character or burner it gets me super anxious to get to another wall. I listen to mostly classic boombap hiphop or classical/funk/soul (the stuff they sample to make boombap hiphop). I can’t get into the newer music of today, call me
A hater or what have you if u must.
Any shout outs or last words? Where can people follow you and do you have anything coming up that you would like to mention?
I’d like to shout out my crews LMA and MSG, my brother @Venomlma, @GaleraCollective anybody who has ever supported me in any way what so ever. My parents for not killing me everytime I called after getting arrested in the early years. Anyone who has ever lent a piece of advice or shown me any tricks with a can. (Honorable mention: @bulk_styles)
You can follow RIPES on instagram.
Interview by Wesley Edwards