HUMANS OF ŌTAUTAHI: RICHARD / POPS
“I got into graffiti art as a teenager after seeing what the kids were doing on the subway trains in New York. I’m 48 now and I’ve officially been self-employed for about 15 years. I’ve worked with young people in Youth Justice, and I’ve been painting commissioned murals here in Christchurch for almost a decade since I’ve been living here.
“The first shift away from criminality back then happened when I was around 22 years old after I had a few spiritual experiences. The biggest trigger, however, was my concern for the hole in the ozone layer. Spray cans were not ozone friendly at that point and that motivated me to stop using them. That was
a giant lifestyle change for me because at the time most of my friends and I were graffiti artists. We were also smoking marijuana every day and drinking alcohol on a regular basis too. So, I quit everything in one go and for a while, I was just kind of doing nothing except eating and sleeping. That led me to meditation. I figured I may as well try and feel peaceful if I’m just going to sit there most of the time. As time went by, more spiritual experiences occurred. Eventually, I started painting again, little by little, but with brushes. These days, I also paint with rollers for the big ones. I eventually just learned to face my fears, that meant really embracing love and the idea that behind everything is a motivation towards love, toward our true self.”