“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.”

– Richard/Pops

Charity registration number: CC57701