Dead End: RX Skulls on 10 Years in the Street Art Community

Written by Moira Hampson

Rx Skulls, a Portland-based artist is celebrating ten years in the street art community with his first ever solo show, Dead End. Hosted this Saturday, September 14, 2019 at Remedy Gallery in Portland Oregon from 5-9pm, the show features an assemblage of works Rx has spent the past year working on. Rx Skulls, known in the Pacific Northwest and across the globe for his skull image, is using the event to showcase the evolution of his style.


Art by @rxskulls // Photo by @wisdomher


While studying graphic design abroad in London he took photos of miscellaneous things to use for his designs. His “stalk photography,” as he likes to call it, was a catalogue he build off of. One day at the Natural History Museum, Rx took a photo of a skull.

“I started using it in college for random things here and there – just some personal art projects. And this one skull image just kinda stuck around.“


Art by @citykittystreet and @rxskulls // Photo by @zurbaran1


During a trip to Europe, Rx started noticing how much graffiti was around.

“I just could not get enough of the street art there. Street art is something that I went my whole life in America as just white noise. You go without noticing or seeing, often it’s hidden away… But in Europe you can’t ignore it, even if you tried.”


Upon arriving back in Portland, he became more aware of the local street art scene.

“It was like my eye had been trained to look places that I wouldn’t normally look. I was looking at the back of street signs, I was looking at the sides of electrical boxes, bike racks, everywhere.”


Art by @rxskulls // Photo by @zurbaran1


After a little research, RX put together that there were around five active street artists getting up at the time, (ten years ago.) Rx recalled the artists being, “Mr. Say, Scam, Winston The Whale, Johnny Tragedy, Nasty Nate, and Magical.”


Rx noticed that this set of Portland artists all used screen printing techniques. Since he was already screen printing for fun, the next step was figuring out what he wanted to print to post up. His trusty skull image he had used throughout college seemed a good candidate.


Ten years later and a decade older, the skull is still Rx’s primary image.


”It was my start image, my practice image, a challenge of ‘how do I keep using this skull in different ways, while I maintain the original photo.’ I decided ‘this will be my branding’ and I never looked back. I never intended in the beginning for it to be my main image. It was like a school project I had given myself.”

Ten years later and a decade older, the skull is still Rx’s primary image.


Rx calls it a “domino effect,” because when new artists enters the scene, like Rx, they notice the commonalities.


The Skull can be recognized by its specific lino block carving and screen printing technique. (In the Portland scene, screen printed stickers are a popular medium.) These colorful and diverse collection of stickers have brought these Portland street artists together, and it has kept them coming. Rx calls it a “domino effect,” because when new artists enters the scene, like Rx, they notice the commonalities.


“What people in Portland thought was, ‘well this is how you do it, this is how we do it here. There was no other choice. Of course we are going to DIY or Die, of course we are going to do this on our own.”


“These new artists don’t even question it. it just blew up and that’s how a city of 30-50 active street artists look like 1000 people, because we have the ability to make so much variety.”


Art by @rxskulls // Photo by @wisdomher


To Rx and the rest of the Portland street art community, it all comes down to having fun and being a “team.” Rx wanted to incorporate this mentality into his show by having a collaborations wall, where he will be showcasing his partnerships with about 25-30 collaborators.


Rx described his work ethic as “going overboard with details.” He aims to create new and innovative uses of the skull and present it in his work. In addition to Rx Skulls and his collaborations, you can catch a live performance piece and more in ‘Dead End’ this Saturday at Remedy Gallery.


Art by @rxskulls // Photo by @wisdomher


When asked what he’s most excited for in the show, Rx responded, “everyone who markets themselves on social media, and who does street art in general, a huge part of the enjoyment is sharing with people. That’s what we do. We make stuff and we put it out there for people to see. Over the past year, all the pieces I’ve been working on, not showing anyone has been painful. But it’s almost time.”

After countless hours of printing, packaging, creating, framing, writing, carving and much more, Rx is ready to get this art out there, and excited to share his year of creation alongside, the ten year culmination of the Rx Skull project.