Inside the Mind of Angry Woebots: Panda Murals and More

by | Oct 11, 2013 | ART, DOWNTOWN RVA, POP CULTURE, STREET ART, STREETWEAR & SNEAKERS

Angry Woebots sure gets around. Hailing from Hawaii, this globe-trotting muralist spent the summer of 2013 jetting between LA, Hawaii, Singapore, and Richmond, VA. Returning for the Richmond Mural Project’s second year, he brought a sense of continuity from the 2012 G40 Mural Project. Known for his striking murals, Woes also paints on canvas and sculpts toys, always featuring his signature stressed and angry panda characters that symbolize the struggles we all face.

Despite his busy travel schedule, Angry Woebots was thrilled to be back in Richmond, collaborating with an amazing crew of international muralists. If you follow him on social, you’ll see he often showcases others’ work over his own. A true supporter of the art community, Woes and I chatted about his travels and even sculpting Chewbacca statues during our interview.

R. Anthony Harris: It’s been more than a year since we’ve seen you. What have you been up to since then?

Angry Woebots: It’s been pretty non-stop. Hardly at home in LA, but I’ve been going to Hawaii a lot, which is my home base. I had an installment show in Hawaii, so recently, I’ve been pretty much on the road for maybe the last three or four months.

RAH: Where were you before this?

Angry Woebots: Well, I had my show in Hawaii at this gallery called 39 Hotel, and then since I was home, I took on a bunch of commissions. I wound down a little bit, then headed back to the mainland and was home for two days. And then I headed to Singapore. I was in Singapore for the Singapore Toy Convention that’s happening in September, so I ended up painting a bunch of walls. I also did this other pop-con event in Indonesia, so I hopped over to Indonesia and painted with some local vandals there, which was pretty cool. Then I went home for two days, packed, and now I’m here in Richmond. It’s been non-stop. The time frame has become a total blur.

RAH: Are you still doing toys a lot?

Angry Woebots: Yeah. In Singapore, I dropped a little resin sculpture collectible called ‘Chewballer,’ based on one of my drawings of Chewbacca, where I put a New Era hat on him. It was the first I dropped out of four different ones. It’s cast in cement. It came out cool and we sold a bunch of them. I actually brought two one-offs for the show, so I have a cement one I painted, and a resin one I painted. They’ll be in my show, the two Chewbaccas. I’m just gearing up for my next drops, which will be at the Singapore Toy Con.

RAH: I was talking to Shane—I didn’t know if you were coming this year.

Angry Woebots: Yeah, it was kind of last minute. Shane told me they were doing the Richmond event, and even though my schedule was really packed, I was like, “I love that event!” So I told Shane I’d love to come out and paint. He was like, “I thought you were too busy to do it,” but I said, “Nah, I’m down to come out.” Like, the day or two before I had to come, I vented to my girl that I wish I wasn’t doing it, but the moment I landed here and met with all the artists, I got hyped again.

RAH: It’s a good crew here and you’re kind of the veteran. You were here last year and now you’re here again. I think everything’s running a lot smoother; we’ve worked out the kinks.

Angry Woebots: Yeah. You know, there’s that event in Hawaii called “Powwow Hawaii” that’s similar to this, with murals by international artists. I love meeting other artists. Like the Etam Cru, like holy shit, man. I really look up to those cats, those cats go big and beautiful. They do dope work.

RAH: I just talked to them and they said it was their first time in the States.

Angry Woebots: I had to be here because I wanted to check it out. Their work is insane.

RAH: You’ve got this wall at Selba; how many more are you putting up this year?

Angry Woebots: I’m for sure doing two, but if I can do three, that would be cool. I have a main wall that’s really tall that I want to do, that I need a lift for. I guess we’re having the party here. I’m just going to put one character here and then hopefully, during the party, people can add on to it however they can.

RAH: You mentioned Andrew Hem; did you know him before you got here?

Angry Woebots: We have so many mutual friends—tons of mutual friends. But I’ve never met him. Like I said, I moved to LA in 2008, but I’ve kind of been traveling a lot to Asia, Europe, and the South Pacific, so I never really ran into him. It was kind of cool to come to this, and he’s gone big, but I think this year he’s going bigger. I would love to see one of his pieces gigantic. When I was up this morning, I was researching and looking at everyone’s work. I knew everyone’s work, but I like to watch everyone’s work to get hyped, kind of like a skater watching skate videos. But then I’m looking at everyone working and questioning my skills. It’s inspiring at the same time, though.

Q: I think everybody’s thinking the same thing. Everybody I’ve talked to is saying the same thing about looking at everyone’s work here. There are a lot of different ones this year.

Angry Woebots: There’s so many cool styles. It’s an honor to come out and paint again with a whole new roster.

RAH: Where are you going after this?

Angry Woebots: I’m doing this Richmond event then going back to Hawaii to finish some commission work. And then I get back from Hawaii for two days, then I’m off to Singapore. I’m painting a whole army tank out there.

Check out Angry Woebots’ contributions to the 2013 Richmond Mural Project at:

2416 W. Cary St
807 Oliver Hill Way
825 W. Cary St

And see his murals for the 2012 G40 Mural Project at:

110 N. 18th St
311 W. Broad St

Connect with Angry Woebots:

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




more in art

Dispatch From Cuba 2015

I wanted to give a bit of context for this piece. I was introduced to Bill one afternoon at the local watering hole by a mutual friend. Bill, a talented and experienced writer, shared some of his work with me, and I was interested to read more. When I asked if he had...

Richmond Named No. 1 ‘America’s Best Town To Visit’

CNN just crowned Richmond as the No. 1 best town to visit in the U.S. this year. CNN travel editors explored the country, searching for cities full of things to do, loads of personality, and not typically swarming with tourists. Richmond topped the list for several...

Milk River Arts: A Sanctuary of Creativity for Disabled Artists

After the death of his father and his retirement from the military, Aly Costanzo felt lost. That changed when his sister found Milk River Arts. “It gave me a purpose,” Costanzo said. “I really had no purpose. My sister found (founder Sally Kemp) for me, and Sally...

‘VASK8R’ | Starting Over at the Local Roller Rink

The rules are simple: don't get in anyone’s way and try to look good while doing it. The warehouse off Williamsburg Blvd mimics many of the same buildings near the Richmond International Airport. But on Wednesday night, when many of the local businesses have locked...