I haven’t always liked stretching canvas and never thought I
would be doing it on a regular basis but these days, it has become more of an
adventure than a chore. It is the sponge that soaks up all the thoughts going
on in my head. Having an overactive imagination since a very young age, it has always
made sense to me that any artwork I develop should be composed of these vivid
thoughts. What used to take form in
crayons and pencil, evolved into pen and ink drawings, spray painted murals and
computer graphics, and has further morphed into the acrylic paintings I create
these days. My childhood obsessions with Disney cartoons, Lorne Greens’ New Wilderness and
books such as Watership Down and The
Phantom Tollbooth have become fodder for my work as it
I have become increasingly interested in the rabbit holes we
fall down when daydreaming. So many have created worlds in their art in which
to escape and inhabit, and for others to enjoy. We have seen glimpses of them
in Narnia, Wonderland, Middle Earth, Neverland, and Hanalee. As homage to these
types and shadows of other lands, I have attached the all-encompassing title, “The
Outside”. As our imagination takes over, we tend to leave what is ordinary and
go outside of ourselves to visit these places. This is why I paint and what has
inspired me over the years to grow as an artist. It is the constant search for
what else is on the outside.
After a family trip to Hawaii, I was struck by the beauty everywhere
- from the flowers and the trees, sunsets and clouds - to the incredible colors
of the fish and wildlife in the reefs just out front and buried in the ocean. I
swam where fish and sea turtles where everywhere and I couldn’t feel more blessed
to be interacting with such beautiful creatures. Upon watching a documentary
shortly after on Yellowstone National Park, I was amazed at the number of
different elements in nature that are so familiar to me but will never be
realized by each other. We will never see snow covered coral reefs inhabited by
butterflies alongside moray eels. Deer will not gallop beside killer whales and
birds will never share their nests with a family of jellyfish. Of course, it is
now my job to make some introductions and see where they go. These are some of
the symbiotic relationships that are going on peripherally in the world I paint
into. They are what make up the eco-structure of “The Outside”. My characters that live there find nothing
foreign or strange about their surroundings and introduce them to newcomers as
one would to their backyard garden. “The Outside” just…is.
At the end of the day, when the paint is hardening on the
palette and the final coat of varnish has been applied, I sit back and lace my
fingers behind my neck and escape into what was once trapped in my head. It is
no longer the blank canvas that I cut my fingers assembling. A mass of wood,
staples, linen and gesso the acrylic brush strokes are barely noticeable. The
long journey from blank slate to finished piece is now finished and I now get
to enjoy a glimpse of what is going on inside “The Outside”. To have your own
viewfinder into this world, I invite you to explore my artwork at IMSCARED.com.
-Greg “Craola” Simkins
16-1/2 x 12-1/2 in.
60 x 48 in.
Flotsam & Jetsam
20 x 20 in.
Acrylic on Canvas
Little Dreaming Knight
60 x 36
Acrylic on Canvas
36 x 72 in.
& Spraypaint on Canvas
36 x 36 in.
Greg “Craola” Simkins was born in 1975 in Torrance California, just south of Los Angeles. He
grew up with a menagerie of animals including a number of rabbits, which often emerge in his
paintings. He began drawing at the early age of three and was inspired by various cartoons and
books. Some standout books that still find their way into his art are Watership Down by Richard
Adams, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
Simkins’ art continued to progress to the age of 18, when he started doing graffiti under the
name “CRAOLA”. Graffiti art became his impetus for creating and gave him the confidence to
paint large works. In addition it taught him perspective, color theory and further developed
artistic skills, which later translated into his work with acrylics.
After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from California State University of Long
Beach in 1999, Simkins worked as an Illustrator for various clothing companies and bands. He
later moved on to Treyarch/Activision where he worked on video games including Tony Hawk
2X, Spiderman 2 and Ultimate Spiderman while attempting to paint with every free moment he
In 2005, Simkins pursued his desire to paint as a full time artist. Since then, he has been featured
in numerous group exhibitions and has had successfully sold out solo exhibitions. The growing
popularity and demand for Simkins’ artwork has gained the recognition of many and can be
found in the collections of Nick Cassavetes (Film Director, My Sister’s Keeper, The Notebook,
Alpha Dog), Robin Williams (Oscar award winning Actor and Comedian), Everlast (Grammy
award winning singer-songwriter), Mark Parker (CEO of Nike), Jason Biggs & Jenny Biggs-
Mollen (Actor & Actress), Joseph "Joe" Hahn (DJ for Linkin Park), Mike Shinoda (Rapper,
Musician for Linkin Park and Fort Minor), Mark Hoppus (Musician, Record Producer and
Television Host), Joel Madden (Lead Singer of Good Charlotte), and many more. His art also
can be found in a wide variety of industries from clothing to video games and has also come to
life in the form of toys. His commercial client/collaboration list includes Disney, Mattel, Upper
Playground, Juxtapoz, To Die For Clothing, Clandestine, Vans, Converse, AFI, Saosin, Gym
Class Heroes, Pennywise, STRANGEco, Ningyoushi, Kid Robot, Zero Friends, Epitaph, Dark
Horse, Iron Fist and Pulse International. In 2009, Simkins developed “IMSCARED”, his own
brand of clothing, merchandise and accessories to further expand his art into more everyday
mediums that can be worn and enjoyed by his diverse fan base.
It is his careful weaving of pop culture, the old masters, nature, carnival kitsch, and (most
importantly) his warped imagination, that makes Greg Simkins a sought-after surrealist painter
today. Simkins’ artwork currently appears in galleries throughout the world and can be explored
further at IMSCARED.com.