Whenever I see Peat's many fresh social media posts, showing new art, videos, NFTS, merch, talks, call-ins, and family bits, I am once again reminded that he is the irrepressible example of what it takes to be a 2020s artist that can make a living off of their work. Back in 2002, Peat had this spark when we first made contact.
He appeared to be a step ahead of the crowd with memorable stencils, hilarious videos, direct inspiration from late Pop Art and "Low Brow" artists, encouraging and supportive board posts, early adoption using social sites, topped off with massive online hustle and self promotion. Getting to know him, and hang out and make art with him over the years, I usually barely keep up with him when we visit.
Back in the early 2000s, Peat already had a style that stood out, and the fact that he now focuses on the eyez (his spelling) makes sense. Looking through his Stencil Archive submissions, dating back to around 2002, this style - and the eyez - shine through the years. He hooked me with his "Dead Fat Comedians" stencils, but his hilarious Mountain Dew Bill Hilly stencil, and the video of Peat as Bill Hilly himself painting the hillbilly stencil in his hometown of St. Louis, was the moment that I got totally hooked.
I still watch that video when I need a laugh, and still have the bottle with Peat's character on the label (I wore out the t-shirt he gave me).
For the Stencil Archive 20th, I had reached out to Peat to ask him to send me an update on his life and art. A week or two later, voagestl.com released a quick interview asking Peat similar questions. I snapped that photo that the site used of Peat standing in front of a wall I helped him get with the Clarion Alley Mural Project here in San Francisco. Here's the full interview, and here's to our looking forward to Peat's upcoming works in the next two-plus decades.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Peat Eyez.
Peat, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Eye am an American Stencil Graffiti/Street artist who has been cutting and spraying stencils for 20 years, known internationally for my signature @EYEZ to wake up the world! My background is graphic design and created works for Camel cigarettes, Coca-Cola, Anheuser Busch, and some lesser evils. This background in guerrilla marketing inspired me to create my own identity that is @EYEZ and to use it for good and as way to spread 3rd Eye Consciousness and to connect people from St. Louis and beyond. For my a deeper dive in to my art journey watch my TedTalk https://youtu.be/7GweUW6CFWY
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
As a father of three sons, it has been very challenging to provide as a full-time artist. When my oldest was very young we moved from Chicago to St. Louis to be closer to family and a find place that I could afford to buy a house to raise my family.
This was around 2002, and trying to do art in a city that has its main focus on sports was a challenge. I started doing stencils around this time while holding a day job at STLtoday.com as a web designer. It was an escape from the design world and also freedom to take back space from advertising and put up my art in Public. Some of my early subjects were paintings of my Son Sam. One of the first public art pieces was an electrical box on kingshighway that featured my son as a screaming baby.
Around this time in the early days of Web 1.0 a website from Melbourne Australia called StencilRevoultion.com was launched, and for the first time I could post images of my stencils, and people from all around the globe could comment on my posts. This also connected me with artists like Logan Hicks, Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and more. These artists especially Logan started to connect me with galleries across the USA and even in Melbourne Australia. In 2007 Logan invited me to come down to Miami for the first mural project in Wynwood. Little did I know that this would become a yearly trip for me to connect with a global art audience and become one of the most “Muralized” neighborhoods in the World.
In 2010 I was still working a 9/5 job this time at NBC (Chanel 5) even tho I had become well known in the street art community, had my own mountain dew bottle, and shows around the globe, I still had the day job. That year I went to Art Basel in Wynwood again and when I came home, I had a pink slip waiting for me and was laid off from my job. This was a blessing in disguise tho as it motivated me to final go full time as an artist. Since then, the struggle is real, especially having 3 sons and trying to provide for them.
At this point, I decided to launch EYEZbrand.com and offer my art in fashion. I also opened my first Pop Shop at 2222 South Jefferson in Saint Louis. This was not only my studio; I also had a gallery featuring many of the Street artists that I had met over the years and a platform to show this type of art to the St. Louis community. The storefront also featured t-shirts, leggings, one of kind original art, and more. This was a struggle tho as it was very expensive to produce these items, I had to always work so hard to make new products, ship them out, and pay people to run the shop. I also looked into selling these on a global market and set up shop at Magic Trade show in Las Vegas. I also looked into licensing my design and set up at Surtex Trade Show in NYC. Companies were very interested in carrying my work and was very well received. The struggle tho was that as soon as I got back from these trade shows I would then need to switch hats to paint murals or run my shop and would be so busy that I would neglect the follow-up.
During Covid was a big challenge, I had closed down my pop shop, and decided to purchase a 1958 vintage camper. This camper allowed me to still do murals in others cities as I would literally roll up to the wall, come out with my respirator on, paint the murals, and then Camp in the city. It also allowed my to offer some of my Merch and art as a mobile pop shop. So far, I have camped in KC, DC, Jersey City, Chicago, and St. Louis.
Also, during Covid, I got into NFTS as another source of income and am now exploring Augmented Reality as another “Canvas” for my Art!
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Just like Andy Warhol (Campbells Soup Can) Keith Haring (Radiant Baby) or KAWS (Skull Companion) Eye am grateful to have found my icon as an artist!
The EYE that I designed is uniquely my own and if you look close you can actually see a hidden smiley face winking. This as has become very well known, and fans tell me that once they discovered the eye, they saw it everywhere. We live in a world of Logos, and modern audiences relate to icons to help them brand the things around us. Eye always recommend to my interns or young artists to find their own EyeCon!
What matters most to you? Why?
My Goal as an artist is to try to make a unique series of work or something that has not been done before. Series like the Dead Fat comedians, Lucha-dor Collabomask, Eyez on Trains, and even incorporating my Eyez on inanimate objects is a form of making a unique piece of work. But ultimately what matters the most to me is to use my art as a catalyst for awakening and to enhance a life experience to the viewers of my art.