We had the good fortune of connecting with Reinhart Selvik and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Reinhart, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
If it’s not risky, it’s not worth it. Growing up in America, our system is designed to produce mediocrity. We have programs in place that model complacency in exchange for security. Rights to healthcare/retirement/education are held at ransom and used as leverage to keep so many people from taking risks and pursuing their dreams. Fear becomes a handicap and keeps so many isolated from their dreams because we are tempted by careers that offer stability and an ensured outcome. Tom Bilyeu of Impact Theory often uses the phrase “Exit the Matrix” to speak on how we must avoid getting trapped into an accepted reality—and that to exit the Matrix, you have to shift your mindset and be willing to do the hard work; taking necessary risks if you are to pursue your dream and exit the system. Risk implies a moment of vulnerability, where a decision will be made that has potentially negative implications for a future you—a risk of either psychical or biological hardship (like a wounded ego or not being able to eat). While it is important to consider decisions before making them, I’ve been weary of the paralysis that comes with the fear of failure. Personal development has been really important in countering this tendency and I’ve absorbed philosophies that champion failure and the innate human ability to adapt to any circumstance. I’ve been building the confidence to go for bigger projects and things that seem impossible. The willingness to be vulnerable about my past has brought me life-changing opportunities, including a full ride scholarship (Jack Kent Cooke Foundation) to attend graduate school and a massive upcoming mural project at the University of California, San Diego (slated for Summer 2021). It has been my experience that opportunities will present themselves if you are willing to take on the risk of venturing into the unknown, to a place that is uncomfortable but necessary to grow. As an adult, I’ve never experienced life without a criminal record, and while it limits me in terms of the ways I can navigate the system, it likewise solidifies my path towards my artistic goals. At times, I get distracted and fear overwhelms me. I ask myself “what will I do if I lose this job, will I find another?” or proclaim to myself that “If I don’t make it in x amount of years I’ll pursue a different path”. Still, the truth is that my only good outcome will come from the art that I make and I will never have a place in ‘regular’ society; meaning that my path can only be unconventional. My future relies on what I do, but at the same time I have nothing to lose.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In Summer 2021 I will be painting a large collaborative mural at the University of California, San Diego. Working with the artists Carmen Linares, Oscar Magallanes, Myron Reyes, and Rafael Reyes (+ other artists to be determined), we will paint a massive 30,000 square foot mural. This mural will engage the diverse identities in the community and will have high visibility as people exit the Trolley Station and walk onto campus. In mid-July of this year, I am working with Kim Garcia, Amy MacKay, Elizabeth Stringer and a bunch of artists on a collaborative mural series (15th Spectrum) in Down Town LA near the Butte Street Junction. My crew and I also recently created the Nothing But Creativity coloring book which is free and can be printed out at home (do it for the kids!). My current body of studio work centers on tracing points of movement in the city, where populations shift (and not by chance)—where one footstep overlaps another. My recent sculptures have been centered on the constantly shifting metropolis; the push and pull of the city as it is developed and reconstructed, but for who? During this coronavirus lockdown, I’ve had more time to reflect and develop new skills that will find their way into my work once I’m able to get back into the studio again. Not having access to my studio has sparked new approaches that I can’t wait to play with. What I’ve learned so far is that the key to surviving as an artist is to find a community of people to share your work, so as to continue a dialogue regardless of what lies on the immediate horizon. People who are honest and that you trust will challenge you, and carry you when things are dry and there isn’t anything to look forward to. Honestly, there have been times when I thought I’d quit for lack of inspiration, but then I’d see a friend plotting forward, or I’d read a book and get an idea and get curious about the world around me. Reading and gaining wisdom from what others have learned has been vital and makes me feel invigorated and driven to engage in the larger discourse. It’s been a long road, but what has really kept me going is envision 5-10 years ahead, take concrete steps every day in order to get there, and to think big instead of thinking about what is currently attainable; to be bold in my actions whenever I can. As artists, we don’t have to wait for opportunity, we can use our imagination to make things happen. Having like-minded artists to collaborate, grow and share with is powerful.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I were to live the fantasy of an unlimited budget and time: Day 1: Anza Borrego, Salton Sea, and Julian day drive. Finish the day with authentic Spanish cuisine at Costa Brava in Pacific Beach Day 2: See local art shows at Best Practice, Bread + Salt, Quint Projects, or MCASD. Dinner and booze at Dumpling Inn off Convoy St. Day 3: Tijuana. Mariscos in Las Playas de Tijuana at Arcas Las Playas for an amazing view, music and seafood. El Vergel for some crazy water slides. Pockets for a game of pool and tower beers late night. Day 4: A stop at Mankind Cooperative. Sushi at Zen 5 in PB. Dinner at Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro in Hillcrest. Day 5: The Balboa for burgers and beer + Balboa Park/Museums. Day 6: OB Noodle for lunch. Live music at The Casbah, Bellyup Tavern, or the Observatory or any of the many other venues. Day 7: A stop at a local brewery like Mikkeller, or a local ‘speakeasy’ like Nobel Experiment.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shout out to everyone who ever believed in me and continues to push me. My graffiti crews, you know who you are, we grew up in the game and 20 years later we are rising up and making it happen. My mentors who I worked with closely, they supported me throughout my years in Art School and beyond: Colleen Sterritt, Amy Adler, Anya Gallaccio, Jennifer Pastor, Simon Leung, Monica Majoli, and Kevin Appel. Shout out to Tom Bilyeu, your content is profound. Shout out to The Cold Read–we push each other and I’ve learned so much from everybody. I can go on and on, I never forget those meaningful moments I’ve had with so many people.

Website: www.reinhartselvik.com
Instagram: @reinhartselvik

Image Credits
Yubo Dong (Capacity)