Greg "Craola" Simkins is a man who has no limits. His graffiti art has graced the streets of southern California for well over a decade. Over the last few years he has made a seamless transition into the world of pop surrealism. He is one of the few graffiti artist who has made such a clean break into fine art by reflecting a whole new style of illustration ability not seen in his street work. Every piece is it's own classic fable and has a story to be told. Greg Simkins is getting it done with one sold out show after another. We are proud to bring you the words and art of the one and only Greg "Craola" Simkins. When did you first realize that your creations could become a possible career path for yourself? I think it clicked when I was hit up by Gallery 1988 to possibly show with them and be part of the I am 8-bit show. After that show things just began to snowball and I am completely grateful for the supporters of my work and the encouragement of my friends and galleries to pursue my passion for painting. Would you say that as a christian, sometimes your religious views and beliefs spill into your art work as a means of conveying a message or influencing the birth of a new character? MY views have spilled over I guess, mainly in a couple paintings, "Here Stands Matt Riddle" and "The Shepherd", but I generally just paint what's in my head. If what is in my head is my views about God and life, than I hope it is reflected in my work. God is the greatest creator ever and he gifted us with the ability to create, so I try to do the best job possible in each painting in response to that gift. Wow that was a long sentence. I can imagine that meeting the legendary Stan Lee, was something of a boyhood dream come true for you. Was it a surreal experience? Yes, it definitely was. The show was a tribute to him and he generously showed up and talked to each one of the artists that participated. He is a very nice man and I was quite star struck. He got a kick out of the hidden picture of him looking out of the window in the painting I did. Which leads me onto my next question. Have you ever considered doing your own comic book or working as a comic book illustrator? I have never thought about doing a full comic book, frame for frame, but have always dreamed about doing a cover. You've also worked with video games company Activision where you worked on games such as Tony Hawk 2 and Ultimate Spiderman. How was did that come about and how did they use your artistic direction? My friends Mike Wikan And Diego got me the job at Treyarch/Activision after I quite working at JNCO jeans so many years ago. They had a spot for a texture artist on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2X and got teh job. That game and the team I worked was one of the greatest projects I have ever worked on. As far as them taking my artistic direction, not so much, I just did what my art directors told me to do and tried to learn the processes quickly. In Tony Hawk 2X i redid the textures (basicly the scenic work, any surface you see)on most levels, not all, my friend Brian Jameson did the superb newer levels like the club. I also put a lot of my friends graffiti alll over the levels so that was fun. If you have never played that version of the game, I would pick it up, it is only an Xbox title though. There is some secret graf in all levels. Of course workin on Kelly Slater and a defunct Shawn Palmer 2 game and the Spiderman games was rad too, but nothing beats that first project. How did you get into writing graffiti? In 1993, I was a senior in High School, and a guy in my history class saw that I was always drawing and showed me a Can Control magazine and I was hooked. I of course had seen graffiti before, but in my neighborhood, it was never done as well as in that magazine. I immediately went out and Bought a Subway art book, and started trying to do letters. I came up with the name Craola, but also wrote Crum because it was shorter, but went back to Craola pretty fast. I made friends with some local skater/writers who had the same interests and we started some crews, got noticed by some others and I ended up in two crews that I have always looked up to and respected, CBS and WAI. My graffiti work has died out over the last few years with starting my family and persuing my main artistic yearnings of creating fantasy landscapes and wild characters on canvas and panel. I still love painting pieces, but I don't deserve any accolade for my graffiti when there are writers out there who risk there lives to get their art up. I am a has been in that regard and just have my memories of running and hiding and spraining ankles and getting cut on barbed wire for my art. I am lucky to get out to paint a wall these days, but am definitely not willing to stop 100%. I love a good piece and hope to contribute in at least a small way as much as I can. What is your favorite medium to work with when creating a new piece, paint, pencil, spray paint etc? Acrylic paints. Mainly Nova Color. I live pen and ink also, but acrylics do it for me. Who or What influences you into creating a new piece? It used to be cartoons and landscape paintings, but has dipped into classic 15th and 16th century painters such as Caravaggio and Davinci. I have held onto certain elements that have been with me since The Cat in the Hat and later Beetlejuice came out like the striped tentacles (thanks Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton). I enjoy looking at still lives and wondering how I can twist them from something natural to unnatural. Passages in songs and books sometimes stick and create an image that needs to be painted. Congratulations on becoming a father! How is this affecting your creative time? Are you hoping for another little Greg Simkins in the making? I don't think that having a kid has changed my work, I am just in awe on the range of emotions I have encountered. I love this little kid so much and find a certain richness in life and in my relationship with my wife and son that wasn't there before. My family is a blessing from God that I absolutely don't deserve. Finally, do you have any plans in the near future to hold an exhibit of your work over here in the United Kingdom? I have always wanted to make it out across the pond. Hopefully one day I'll get out that way, but nothing is in the books as of yet. Check out the rest of Greg's awsesome work by visiting his official website here and his MySpace here