December 9, 2015.
What do you write? Are you in a crew?
Renda Writer. I'm not a traditional graffiti artist, so I don't really have a traditional style graffiti name or tag. I don't belong to a crew, but my name as an artist is Renda Writer. I typically just sign my work as Renda Writer, whether on a canvas or on a wall. Most public work that I do is is legal and commissioned. Sometimes I get down in the street too. I do "Handwritten Murals" which is a term I created to label my specific brand of street art. It is a combination of influences from graffiti, typography, poetry, and inspirational art. I'm not in a crew, but I do love to collaborate with other artists.
In what city did you start painting in the streets? Do you feel your work has influenced the community in return? If so, how? Is there a relationship between the artist and the community in which they work?
I have done and like to do stuff everywhere. But, I guess you could say that Wynwood is where I started, and where I tend to be the most active. The first mural that I did in Wynwood, which was at N'Namdi Contemporary Art, located at 177 NW 23rd St, was the one where I wrote "Love is a risk. Do it anyway." 500,000 times on a 40ft x 40ft blue wall. This mural greatly influenced the community. It became a viral sensation and a go-to spot for taking selfies and couples wanting their picture together. I've gotten countless emails from people who have told me how the mural affected them and/or related to them. The mural isn't even fully there anymore, although I still get messages from people telling me about how the mural affected them. I am beyond grateful for Wynwood and Miami in general. I love my relationship with the place. I think there is always a relationship between the artist and the community in which they work whether the artist is aware of that or not. Energy is always being exchanged between artists and their environments. I love the energy in Wynwood and I'm happy to take from it and add to it.
Did you go to school or are you self taught?
Self taught. I went to school, but not for art. I graduated from University of Florida with my Bachelors of Science degree in Finance.
How did you get started in the arts and why?
I have often said that, "I started making art when everything else stopped making sense," as a way to describe how I got started in doing visual art. This was around 2011 or so. I had just gotten out of a relationship and just left a very successful arts magazine that I founded and ran for 4 years. I was living out of a Ford Explorer, I had no friends, I was working various low paying restaurant industry jobs. I literally didn't know what to do. I just had nothing to do. I didn't know how to spend my time. I didn't know what to work on. Everything just stopped making sense. I was still by nature a workaholic and a very passionate person. I just didn't have anything to work on. I didn't know where to inject that passion. I had no focus. I was exploring all of South Florida (in my Explorer, LOL) and just kinda sleeping everywhere. Taking it all in, absorbing the experience, trying to stay busy, even if I was busy doing nothing. Trying to figure out how to reinvent myself. I've always been a dumpster diver, always a person to "find things." Soon I began making art out of the various things that I was finding. Then I started spending more time in Miami after I got a job in Miami Beach. During that time I started finding all kinds of stuff in the back alleys of the beach. Then I just kinda connected with the magic of the Magic City. Somehow I aligned with the Miami energy and a greater purpose. Then I held on tight as everything started to move me forward with a new sense of purpose. I focused more on The Law of Attraction and the power of intention. Things started making sense again. I was now an artist. I had always been involved in the arts since 2000, but as other things. A poet, an actor, a freelance writer, an art & music host/promoter, an art magazine publisher. Now, I am also a visual artist. I haven't looked back since.
How long have you been working in the streets?
Since about 2013 or so. I had done little things before that too, but maybe 2013 is a good answer. In 2014 though, that's when I did my first big legal mural ("Love is a risk. Do it anyway."), so maybe that's when I "officially" started. Time is not linear anyway. I seriously believe that past, present, and future are all the same, and all happening right now.
Who or What inspires you the most?
Everything. Literally, everthing. Inspiration, contrary to popular belife, is a choice, I think. I think that I can choose to be inspired by just about anything, and that includes everything! It even includes the word "everything," which is one of my favorite words, and that's why you see it in a lot of my work. Everything is happening... and knowing that, for me, is enough inspiration.
What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?
I don't hate on anything. I don't even use the word hate, ever in describing my feelings toward something. So, I can't really answer that part of the question. I guess people should just know that art is art, and everything is art, and that's it. Go and see for yourself. I don't really believe in "should" either. I just believe in "be." Be an artist. Be a street artist. Be an art appreciator. Be whatever it is you are going to be.
Are you a full time artist? Do you have a day job? Is it best to be full time artist or not worry about it and make your $$$ elsewhere, that way you can paint what and how you want, which one offers a more creative outlook?
Full time!! I do odd jobs, and some non-art related hustles here and there to get money. But, overall art is my income. I'm an actor too. I act in short films and commercials. I also do extra work for feature films. I'm a poet and sometimes I get paid for poetry performances. Other times it's for free. As I was saying earlier I'm an event host and producer. I dable in freelance writing too. Writing bios, press releases, things like that. So those are all "jobs" but they're all in the arts and as for a day job? Right now I don't have one. My last day job was here in Miami. It was a menial restaurant job that I had for a little over a year. One day I went on break and never went back. My boss texted me and asked if I was coming back. I replied simply, "I can't." From that moment on I committed even harder to being a full time artist. That was about a year and a half ago. I can't really say what the best approach is, but I can say what works for me, and right now, the "full time artist" thing seems to be working. I once read a quote from Banksy that literally changed my entire life, especially my view on the answer to this kind of question. Here it is: "If you want to be successful as an artist, it's not that hard. All you have to do is devote your entire life to it." Boom. That's all I needed to hear. If you're devoting your whole life to your art, I guess there isn't really much time or energy left for a job, now is there? I don't know? It's an approach that works for me right now, but I'm never opposed to working. I love making money in any way I can. Money is a form of energy, and I enjoy manifesting it, whether through my art, odd jobs or even through a regular job. What I'm really getting into now is the idea of getting investors to fund me. I just received $1,000 from two private investors, for my line clothing line, "Word Wear by Renda Writer," where I create T-shirts and skirts that look like my Handwritten Murals. I think going forward I want to get much deeper into the concept. I find that when people believe in you, they like to support you.
What are you working on now?
As a tribute to Luther Campbell (formerly known as Luke Skywalker of 2 Live Crew) (also known as Uncle Luke), I wrote "Don't stop. Get it. Get it." over and over on a STOP sign. I got him to sign it too, so that was cool. Other than that, I am currently looking for my next project and have tentative plans to do a handwritten mural at a kava bar and yoga studio in Asheville, North Carolina. Really, that's my whole goal. To do murals and to travel. Which reminds me of another project that I just completed. I did a handwritten mural in Detroit, where I wrote "Black Lives Matter" over 2,000 times on a 40ft x 30ft wall. It made the national news via the Associated Press and also landed me an interview on the 5 O'clock Fox News. That was BIG for me.
What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the street?
I am always looking to accomplish the next level. Wherever I am at, I am always aspiring to reach the next level, just one step ahead. I am also always gratful for where I am too. I like to get people thinking. I like to give creative reminders of the things we already know deep in our souls, but maybe forget as we get wrapped up in life.
Thanks, catch up with Renda on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/rendawriter