Stink is both the alter-ego of artist Evan Rossell, and Evan’s flagship creation. The ring-lead of the Hairy Fools, Evan’s illustrated crew of troublemakers, Stink’s appeared on everything from skateboards to paintings to the broken chair outside the CONVICTS office.
Despite the Southern California, pastel hues that Evan works, a hard-to-place spookiness lurks in his creations. CONVICTS caught up with Evan before his recent trip to New York. We got his word on street art, the importance of travel, and of course, the Hairy Fools’ origin story.
Hey mate. To start can you tell us where you’re from?
I’m from California, Southern California. Right now I live in Newport.
What was your childhood like?
Childhood was like skateboarding, riding my bike. Very outdoorsy.
Who did you hang out with growing up?
Growing up my mom and dad just took me and my brother to skateparks and the BMX track. So it was like meeting different kids at the skateparks.
When did you get into art?
I didn’t get into art ’til like high school…and that’s when I learned how to surf.
Where else have you lived?
I used to live in Colorado. We would go mountain biking and whitewater rafting and rock climbing, that was like a normal weekly routine. When we moved here I wanted to learn how to surf and kids at school were doing art so I wanted to start doing some art. I was super inspired by skateboarding and surfing so I started making my own little doodles.
Can you remember those first little doodles? What were they about?
They were just like a little cartoon. Like a half-guy with a lil’ smiley face. It was super basic but at the time I was so stoked just to have a little guy doodled on my binder and stuff.
What was the progression? As in, how did you get from doodling on homework to where you are now?
I had the raddest art teacher my senior year and he opened up my mind to screen printing. Turning a doodle into a t-shirt or a skateboard deck or a sculpture. It was rad to see your art progress.
Talk about the Hairy Fools.
Ahh, the Hairy Fools. So I’d do a bunch of little hairy colorful monsters and me, Stink. They’re the crew I never had. The surf crew, skate crew, graffiti crew that I wish I had…so these are just a bunch of little Hairy Fools. Then from there I was like ‘Everybody can be a part of it.’ Everybody’s colorful and hairy in their own way, you know?
Do you try to keep that childlike sense of wonder that kids have when they start to draw and name their crews? Or are you thinking specifically and down the line?
Specifically. I think of it as making something that everyone can be a part of. So it’s Stink and Hairy Fools. Stink is the main Hairy Fool.
Is that how you see graffiti? Or street art? As something that everyone can be a part of?
Where do you think street art is now? In relation to where it came from and what it’s doing?
You see it a lot more now and it’s a lot more open. Communities are more open to it. In the 80’s it was more to get your name on a wall and be seen by hundreds of people a day, whereas now you can actually make a living doing murals all over the world and create a name for yourself. If nobody saw my art I would still make it because it’s just what I like to do, but it’s nice to get hired by cities and countries to go paint and experience things that you probably wouldn’t have experienced. It’s super positive and fun.
How does experiencing new places and things influence your work?
Well, looking up to an artist for so long then eventually meeting them and being able to paint a mural with them in their country is so awesome. It’s just rad to see their culture and how they live and it makes me wanna put that into my art. So like traveling to places like Brazil and South America and got me started doing all these little houses. Just because when you’re going through the city you see a lot of these houses stacked on top of each other so I started stacking houses around my characters. Bringing those different cultures that into my art is very special. I don’t say it’s inspired by this, I just put it out there because it’s special to me.
But you said you’ve never been to New York City before?
What do you think it’s gonna be like when you get there?
A playground. I’ve heard you don’t drive a car, you take people movers everywhere, and there’s just art all over the street. I’ve see pictures from back in the day to now, and it just looks like a big playground of fun.
Does art run in your family?
It does. My mom is a really good artist. Growing up she was always doing crafts. Very DIY. My brother would say he wanted a mural on his wall and she would paint a mural on his wall. Looking over his portfolio inspires me to keep making work and using my name, and hopefully one day put him on a platform because it’s just insane to see all his work. It’s almost like he wasn’t noticed for it but it’s super legendary and makes me wanna live the lifestyle and keep doing my art for the family.
Where was your grandpa from?
He’s from Peru, actually. My grandpa and his four children from Peru were just like “We’re gonna go live in America.” That’s pretty special.
What role does California play in your life?
In my life? Everything.
What do skating and surfing do for you? Is it therapeutic?
Yeah they’re totally therapeutic.
Do you ever have moments where you’re not inspired? Where you need to re-ignite the artistic spark?
I change up by doing things outside of the norm. What’s really inspired within the last year has been creating clothes for myself and painting on different mediums, it just helps me kinda think more outside the box and generate new ideas. Travelling also helps. And surrounding myself around different groups of people. I get inspired by people.
Alright, last question. Any words of advice for the aspiring kids out there?
The message I try to promote is just to be creative. You can do it yourself, you don’t gotta go hire somebody to do it.
Thanks, man. Best of luck with everything.