Greg Simkins was born in Torrance, California, slightly south of Los Angeles. His artistic ambitions bloomed as early as age three with drawings inspired by cartoons and books. Some of these works, such as The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and Watership Down by Richard Adams, still find reference in his art. He grew up with a variety of animals, including a number of rabbits, which often appear in his paintings to this day.
Simkins earned his B.A. in Studio Art from California State University, Long Beach in 1999.
After graduating, Simkins went to work as an illustrator for several clothing firms before moving on to the video game industry, where he worked on games for Treyarch/Activision such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, [[Spider-Man 2 (video game) |Spider-Man 2]], and Ultimate Spider-Man. With blessings from his former bosses at Activision, he made the leap to full-time artist in 2005. Since then his studio work has met with resounding acclaim and allowed him to branch out with his successful 2013 Kickstarter project, "'I'm Scared' A Stop-Motion Film from Greg 'Craola' Simkins", which is still in development.
At the age of 18, Simkins began doing graffiti under the name “CRAOLA”. Graffiti drove his inspiration to create and gave him the confidence and experience to paint large scale works. It also taught him color theory and perspective while further developing his artistic skills, as later demonstrated in his masterful work with acrylics.
Out of his love for the animal world he seeks to bring together unlikely camaraderies and conflicts from the landscape of his mind to the confines of canvas, paper, and walls. It is common to see deer with killer whales, puppies with crustacean pals, and birds sharing the air with rodents in his playfully ominous to ominously playful acrylic compositions informed by smooth, graffiti gradients and superbly balanced layouts that draw the eye deftly through complex story lines and rich little vignettes.
Simkins' paintings have been featured in various narrative art exhibitions including the group shows Suggestivism at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, Family Guy! at the Los Angeles Museum of TV & Radio, Street Cred at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Visionary Art at Mondo Bizarro Gallery in Rome, Art from the New World at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in Bristol, England, Sons of Baby Tattooville at the Riverside Art Museum, and MasterWorks: Defining A New Narrative at the Long Beach Museum of Art.
Simkins' solo shows include: Good Knight, Stop Haunting Me, and Cloud Theory at Merry Karnowsky Gallery in Los Angeles; Inside the Outside at Joshua Liner Gallery in New York; a two-person exhibit with Lola at Galerie d'Art Yves Laroche in Montreal; The Pearl Thief at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight in Los Angeles; Seeing Things at FIFTY24/SF Gallery in San Francisco; It Wanders West at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight; It Wanders East at Joshua Liner Gallery; The Well at m modern Gallery in Palm Springs, CA; I’m Scared at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight; Don’t Sleep at FIFTY24/SF Gallery; and Ima Monsta at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight.
Simkins had his curatorial debut with INLE at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight in 2011, a show in which he also participated. The exhibit included art inspired by the book Watership Down by over 100 artists.
Other artists Simkins has exhibited with include Todd Schorr, Mark Ryden, Shephard Fairey, Glenn Barr, Shag, Mike Shinoda Seen, Nathan Spoor, Eric White, Josh Keyes, Alex Gross, James Jean, and Esao Andrews.
"I'm Scared" is a stop-motion short film based on the artist's work. In collaboration with director Pete Levin, whose credits include IFC's Comedy Bang Bang and Cartoon Network's MAD, the team will be bringing Greg's world into the third dimension. There is no official release date at this stage, but a glimpse of the story has been revealed: "8-year-old insomniac Ralf describes to his little brother all of the dangers that lurk in the shadows, waiting to devour the two of them." The film was funded by a substantial Kickstarter project.
By the artist:Books
Simkins, Greg. (2013) The Outside. Presto Art. ISBN No. 978-0985063801
Simkins, Greg. (2011) Drawn From the Well. Presto Art. ISBN No. 978-0982404737
Spoor, Nathan. (2011) Suggestivism: A Comprehensive Survey of Contemporary Artists. Gingko Press. ISBN No. 978-1584234470
Ziegler, Tina. (2010) Hunt & Gather. Mark Batty Publisher. ISBN No. 978-0981960036
Beinart, Jon. (2007) Metamorphosis 2: 50 Contemporary Surreal, Fantastic, and Visionary Artists. BeinART Publishing. ISBN No. 978-0980323115
Gibson, Jon M. and Klosterman, Chuck (2006) i am 8-bit: Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80s. Chronicle Books. ISBN No. 978-0811853194
Ganz, Nicholas & Manco, Tristan. (2004) Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN No. 978-0810949799
Smith, Kevin & Gallery 1988. (2011) Crazy 4 Cult: Cult Movie Art. Titan Books ISBN No. 978-0857681034
Weber, Diana. (2009) Juxtapoz Dark Arts. Gingko Press ISBN No. 978-1584233619
Owens, Annie. (2009) Hi-fructose Collected Edition. Last Gasp of San Francisco ISBN No. 978-0867197136
Eaton, Tristan, and McCormick, Carlo. (2011) The 3D Art Book. Prestel USA ISBN No. 978-3791345499