Bridging pop surrealism and graffiti art with the skill of a fine art painter, his art is unique and recognizable, blending a wealth of early influences with contemporary pop culture references.
Greg “Craola” Simkins was born in 1975 in Torrance California, just south of Los Angeles. He grew up with a menagerie of animals including a number of rabbits, which often emerge in his paintings. He began drawing at the early age of three and was inspired by various cartoons and books. Some standout books that still find their way into his art are Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
Simkins’ art continued to progress to the age of 18 when he started doing graffiti under the name “CRAOLA”. Graffiti art became his impetus for creating and gave him the confidence to paint large works. In addition, it taught him perspective, color theory and further developed his artistic skills, which later translated into his work with acrylics.
After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art from California State University of Long Beach in 1999, Simkins worked as an illustrator for various clothing companies and bands. He later moved on to Treyarch/Activision where he worked on video games including Tony Hawk 2X, Spiderman 2 and Ultimate Spiderman while attempting to paint with every free moment he had.
In 2005, Simkins pursued his desire to paint as a full-time artist. Since then, he has been featured in numerous group exhibitions and had successfully sold out solo exhibitions. The growing popularity and demand for Simkins’ artwork has gained the recognition of many and can be found in the collections of Nick Cassavetes (Film Director, My Sister’s Keeper, The Notebook, Alpha Dog), Robin Williams (Oscar award winning Actor and Comedian), Everlast (Grammy award winning singer-songwriter), Mark Parker (CEO of Nike), Jason Biggs & Jenny Biggs-Mollen (Actor & Actress), Stefan Lessard (Bassist for the Dave Matthews Band), Stacy Ferguson “Fergie” (Singer) & Josh Duhamel (Actor), Joseph "Joe" Hahn (DJ for Linkin Park), Mike Shinoda (Rapper, Musician for Linkin Park and Fort Minor), Mark Hoppus (Musician, Record Producer and Television Host), Joel Madden (Lead Singer of Good Charlotte), and many more. His art also can be found in a wide variety of industries from clothing to video games and has also come to life in the form of toys. His commercial client/collaboration list includes Disney, Mattel, Logitech, Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder, Blink 182, Linkin Park, Upper Playground, Juxtapoz, To Die For Clothing, Clandestine, Vans, Converse, AFI, Saosin, Gym Class Heroes, Pennywise, Ningyoushi, Kid Robot, Zero Friends, Epitaph, Dark Horse, Iron Fist and Pulse International. In 2009, Simkins developed “IMSCARED”, his own brand of clothing, merchandise and accessories to further expand his art into more everyday mediums that can be worn and enjoyed by his diverse fan base. He’s recently finished working with C4Toons on his own stop motion short based on his art called, I’m Scared: The Movie!
It is his careful weaving of pop culture, the old masters, nature, carnival kitsch, and (most importantly) his warped imagination, that makes Greg Simkins a sought-after surrealist painter today. Simkins’ artwork has appeared in museums and galleries throughout the world.