Scratching the Surface: ChrisRWK

December 9, 2014 | Aymann Ismail

ANIMAL showcases a different street artist regularly in our feature, Scratching the Surface. This week, we profile ChrisRWK. Hailing from Staten Island, Chris started doing graffiti at a young age and then developed his skills into a more evolved, fine art style and created a whole cast of signature, white-eyed characters. He later founded RWK (Robots Will Kill), an artist collective and website dedicated to promoting urban art.


Decade you were born in:

City you currently live:
Staten Island, NY

Drugs or natural highs?
Natural. Been straight edge a long time.

How did you get your name?
When I was younger (around 11) I picked a tag out of the dictionary, Vex, and then changed it when I got into high school, ND (new deal, no drugs, never dull). It had more of a personal meaning. So I used that from about 13 until Robotswillkill.com launched in 2001. Everyone would say, “What’s up, Chris from Robots Will Kill?” “Hey Robots Will Kill,” etc. So I figured to just go by Chris RWK for stuff. But on stickers and walls it’s mostly RWK or Robots Will Kill because over the past 13 years I think people recognize my style and characters.


Why do what you do?
It’s like my father always says: “I’ll be dead a long time.”

How does your mother feel about your art?
She likes it. She wears RWK shirts and has been asking me for a painting for her house for a long time.

Are you making a living off your art? How’s that working out so far?
No. I have a union job. I sell a lot of work but I don’t want art to be come a “job” and loose my love for doing it.

Fuck the art world or embrace the art world?
A balance.

Do you bring your smart phone into the bathroom with you? Why?
Yeah. No clue. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night I check it on my way to the bathroom and then get distracted and 20 minutes goes by and I realize, “hey didn’t I get up for some reason?” Maybe subconsciously I’m worried I’m gonna pull an Elvis and at least I’ll have my phone with me if I need help.


Do you ever feel like giving up?
Yeah, but I’m too stubborn to give up now.

Suggest an artist to follow.
Can’t narrow it down. Vers, Lou Pimentel, Sugar Fueled, Peeta, and Jos-L.