Royyal Dog is his name and murals are his game. Whether rocking a solid mural of one of his favorite hip-hop artists or collaborating on a piece with one of his homies from the crew, Royyal Dog always rises to the challenge and brings his A-game. Big or small, he crushes them ALL. Royyal Dog is no stranger to large-scale murals and can tackle just about any size wall with ease. But what sets Royyal Dog above the rest isn't his skill/talent, it is his passion and his character. The peeps here at Spray Planet have been fortunate enough to meet Royyal Dog (AND watch him paint) on several occasions and it is 100 percent inspiring. Read below to find out more about his story.
Just wanted to start out by saying THANK YOU for taking the time to rock this interview with us over here at Spray Planet by Montana Colors. Let’s start with the absolute basics: What do you write, What crews do you rep (if any), and Where are you from?
I write Royyal Dog. I am from Seoul, Korea. I represent Rivers Crew and The World Famous Seventh Letter Crew.
How old were you when you first picked up a spray can? Describe the experience you had in detail.
The year was 2006, and I was a 17-year-old high school student studying art. I was so into the hip-hop music and culture as far back as early 2000, and it all happened in a short time. People around talked to me about graffiti many times in a few days, and I felt like God was telling me to do this. I was studying to go to art college at the time, but I picked up a spray can instead. I was super excited that I was going to be part of this culture.
It’s crazy how things fall together sometimes, right? So, give us a little insight on the name Royyal Dog (origin/meaning). How and when did you start writing it? Where does it come from?
I came up with the name Royyal Dog in 2013, when I was in Australia. A lot of things happened in my life around that time. After serving in the Army, I went to a seminary in the Philippines to become a missionary. I moved to Australia after 2 years because I really wanted to paint again. I wanted to go to one of the following 4 countries to start a career as a full-time artist: USA, Spain, Germany, Australia. Australia became the easiest choice to get visa because of Working Holiday.
At the time I had no money and no job, and I couldn’t even see what was coming tomorrow, but God was my hope and I have faith. Though I was like a stray dog, my Father in Heaven is Royal. Even if my life was messed up, I couldn’t change where I came from. I named myself Royal Dog. Later in 2016, I traveled to the USA for the first time in my life and I started making good money through art. I added an extra “Y” in the name as meaning of reason why, or purpose why (Y) I was a royal dog. So, I became Royyal Dog (two Y's).
Absolutely inspiring. Let’s get into your head a little bit. When you’re working on a wall or project, which part of the creative process do you typically enjoy the most? (Sketch? Fill? Outline? Background? Detail? Shading?) Explain.
I don’t know if others feel the same way as I do about the creative process, but my favorite part is the first rough shading after the sketch. That’s when you know if you’re going right or not. And it finally seems like 3D. It looks cool when its roughly sketched. Everything is just about how hard and how long you work on the wall after that point.
You and I have spoken on many different occasions and you’ve told me before that MTN 94 is your all-time FAVORITE aerosol spray paint. What do you like most about the MTN 94 paint line by Montana Colors?
Like you just said, I always tell everyone it’s my favorite and it is my ALL-TIME favorite. What I like the most about it is originality. I started from graffiti letters and character style and I keep telling myself that I need to stay in the street. In my personal opinion, Montana Colors is the only major brand that is making products for graffiti artists.
After I finished serving in the Army in 2011, I bought 2 black cans of MTN94 for the first time. Before then we only could get local spray paints. It was my dream to paint with those 94 cans. I had always envisioned that I could paint better with MTN94.
In August of 2016 when I visited LA for the first time, I had an opportunity to paint at The Container Yard (TCY). I bought about 30 cans of 94. Montana Colors USA (Spray Planet) posted my finished piece at TCY. Since then, Montana Color has always helped me with many things. And I will support them too when I can. I have had support from many brands and people throughout my career, but I don’t forget the people who helped me when I had no name. Now I’m one of the people who is proving that Montana Colors is making the best products in the game. It may not be the best for every artist, but I’m showing that it’s not about the product but the artist.
I’ve noticed you sign your work with the name JOHN0329. What is the significance or meaning of this exactly?
Well, it’s not my name by the way LOL People email me sometimes like “Hey John,” but my friends call me Chris or Chan (Or Chrischan). John0329 refers to a passage in the Bible; The Book of John, Chapter 3, Verse 29. It says, “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegrooms voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.” I paint to glorify God and people shall see God through this. I’m happy only with that and I’m not taking the glory for God.
In your opinion, what impact does your art have on the community/society at large?
I don’t really know and don’t really care, but what I know is how the communities generally think about it based on their reaction. The reason why I say I don’t care is because it’s not my intention to do this for others.
I always tell people to love what you do and do what you love. I just wanted to paint for fun, and for more fun I wanted to be proud of myself. I wished to paint something unique and something really good. I didn’t mean to paint something deep with a lot of messages behind it. And people have read what I didn’t hide in it, it makes me paint for the messages.
I try to be responsible for the community, but also try not to be fake myself.
What is the biggest mural/wall you have painted to date? Where is it located?
So it was in Guam at PowWow Guam 2019. I painted little Bella alongside Korean letters saying "Hafa Adi." It took me a full 7 days to finish.
We've included a photo of that wall so our readers can actually visualize the scale of that thing. It's insane! How long have you been doing portraits? Have you ever painted traditional graffiti lettering during your art career?
As I remember it’s been about 8 years of painting portraits. I started with letters and characters in 2006. I still like to do characters when I paint with my homies. People don’t really care when I paint letters and characters, so I don’t post them that often but it’s always more fun with no stress. Painting portraits is a different way of fun, but there is always a right answer for portraits, so it was kind of stressful before I was able to figure it all out.
What is the most memorable place in the world where your artwork has taken you?
I’ve been to more than 20 countries and the most memorable, for me, is the USA. I had always wanted to travel the USA and I feel like I was painting and studying for it before I had even set foot here. This is partially why I was able to move here. Where I am is the biggest stage of this game in the world, in this era. I want to see what I can produce while still going up.
As much as I love the USA though, I would like to move to Guam when I’m much older.
What kind of projects (without giving away too much) can your followers and fans expect to see from you in the very near future?
There are a few gigs coming up before the summer. A few murals that people have been expecting. And there is a special project that is one of my life goals, and one of the main reasons I came to the states. You guys can definitely expect to see that soon!
(final photo courtesy of Landon Taylor TCY)
Royyal Dog’s work can be found here:
Interviewed by: Eight (On Instagram: @eightxlucy)