Those who say graffiti doesn’t accomplish much haven’t seen the work of Skid Robot, an anonymous street artist in Los Angeles who uses his medium to draw attention to the homeless — a population he laments is so often overlooked.
Skid Robot humanizes the homeless by incorporating them into his art, creating scenes in which the subjects aren’t just a faceless person, down on their luck. Instead, he highlights their struggle by juxtaposing them with spray painted versions of their needs, wants and dreams.
skidrobot wrote: “The last time #birdman had #lobster was over 25 years ago at a #sizzler. The #joy he had when we showed up with one along with a #baked#potato was #grand. It’s not much but it’s somethin”
skidrobot wrote: “It is tragic that people who return from serving their country make up a large percentage of those who are#homeless and abandoned without proper care for #ptsd and other #disorders”
One man, recently released from the hospital and in a wheelchair, is depicted sitting in a throne atop a castle wall — not shoeless and in a wheelchair.
In a caption accompanying the photo, Skid Robot explains the man’s backstory, painting a portrait of a man named “Ben.”
“Ben was released from the hospital with no shoes,” writes Robot. “He was unable to walk as a result of being shot in the back and eventually the hospital booted him on the street like so many others.”
“I offered him a meal but he declined, instead he asked for paper, pencils [and] pens so that he can write and draw. He said he really liked the art and [used] to draw himself …”
Robot adds he gave Ben a sketchbook, a few pens and money for a meal.
skidrobot wrote: “When I met Michael he was in a bit of a #drunken #stupor, he was very chummy and welcoming upon my introduction. We had a brief conversation about random things and as we were talking 2 truck loads of police in riot gear were passing by on route to the #ferguson#solidarity#justiceformikebrown#protest in #dtla. He had no idea about the #mikebrown case and I shared the story. I began to heckle the riot police by booing them and this made Michael a bit uneasy so I stopped. I asked where he would be spending Thanksgiving and he replied “tomorrow’s thanksgivin?!” It’s unfortunate that someone so genuinely friendly as he is suffers from severe alcoholism and has no one to spend the #holiday with. I asked what we could get him to eat and he asked for a cheeseburger, we kicked him down a Lil #money#snacks and #smokes along with it. He was excited to know it was #thanksgiving and must of had on his mind what a lot of #Americans are thinking of…#turkey”
Another man, identified as “Tony,” rests on the sidewalk, his unrolled sleeping pad transformed — via Skid Robot’s paint — into a regal bed, complete with a headboard and matching side tables.
“They desperately needed water more than anything,” Robot writes, “so we delivered 10 gallons.”
skidrobot wrote: “Had a chance to catch up to Sarah and give her the #vitamins she asked for…she was surprised and very thankful for us coming “
In an email to The Huffington Post, Skid Robot was adamant he’s not trying to make light of his subject’s situation or use them as a prop, even though his work may be seen as humorous at times.
“I’m drawing attention to a human being who more often than not is looked at as nonexistent,” he said of his jarring art. “I hardly think that is using them to my benefit.”
“I offer whatever help that I can, I try to get to know some of these people and give them an open ear and heart,” he continued. “My message is one of compassion, to look out for those who are less fortunate and to do for others.”
skidrobot wrote: “Richard was born in #Illinois and given up for adoption. He said it wasn’t all so bad, the family that took him in would #travel to #europe often. He even had a chance to live in #Germany for a few years and attend school . he said that the #IRS and the #government are at fault for the situation that he is in. I asked what he needed in order to get his life back on track and he replied by saying #friendship. Good friends are hard to come by, appreciate those who are #true and #loyal. Real #friends will never let you down and help you up if you are down on your #luck. I wished him the best and gave him some #money for #groceries and was on my way..”
skidrobot wrote: “Andre is originally from Georgia. He’s been living on Skid Row for about 14 years now. He told me a story about his wife dying of stomach cancer which in his words said “broke” him.
They had planned a future together and after her death he said f*** it and dealt with the pain like many others do that are living on the streets.
Andre was a very nice person and it is unfortunate that there was no one there to support him during his loss.
Being human is such an emotionally fragile experience , life can sometimes break us. If we don’t have anyone giving us support and compassion we can completely fall apart. In 2015 may we all practice more compassion because at times it can make all the difference in the world.
Andre would like to wish everyone a #HappyNewYear. He said it feels it’s time to take his life back and get off the streets, may he be blessed and cared for in his struggle. He didn’t have a phone to keep in contact with but I’m sure I’ll see him around. I left him with some money and wished him luck.”
Sources: Youtube, HuffPost, Instagram