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A Collective Embrace: Punk Rock & Paintbrushes - The Insides Of Artists Written By Outsiders

Dissecting the heart driven art book that serves as a testament to the intersectionality of art.

punk rock and paintbrushes Sara Rose Wright
Photograph by Sara Rose Wright

Words by Luis (@luis.hoa):


Community is at the core of punk rock. For decades, the genre has brought together millions for a common purpose, playing a significant role as a conduit for justice at a time where righteousness is challenged. Regardless of the issue at hand or the interpersonal dynamics at play, punk acts a beacon for camaraderie and the energetic atmosphere within a live show speak for it. A big component of the punk rock impact is rooted in the arts, whether that be through the striking album covers, t-shirt messaging, or the on-stage presence. Here's where the dynamic duo of Warren Fitzgerald (The Vandals) and Emily T. Nielsen (Punk Rock & Paintbrushes) come in.

Last month on April 15th, Fitzgerald and Nielsen gave way to Punk Rock & Paintbrushes: The Insides of Artists Written By Outsiders, a 200 page hardcover book that compiles the works and stories of 26 unique creatives. Featuring intricately designed prints like the Cheating and Solitaire 20th Anniversary by Mad Twins below, Punk Rock & Paintbrushes compiles a great amount of visual treats that span all ends of the artistic spectrum.

mad twins
"Cheating and Solitaire 20th Anniversary" by Mad Twins

The Punk Rock & Paintbrushes platform was born out of Nielsen's victory over cancer in 2007. To celebrate the occasion, Nielsen asked Tim McIlrath (Rise Against) to paint an artwork with the lyrics to the band's song Survive as a reminder of her strength. Since then, Punk Rock & Paintbrushes has thrived as a community that allows for artists to showcase their illustrative prowess at gallery exhibits and music festivals across the world. Today's subject, The Insides Of Artists Written By Outsiders, is the culmination of it all.

Punk Rock is not just about music and paintbrushes are not just tethered to the idea of art, but instead the two together are the perfect combination of life in a radical way,” says Nielsen. As Nielsen explains, there's a symbiotic relationship between the two elements and Punk Rock & Paintbrushes captures that excellence. The imagery and bravado of it all are what completes the overall punk experience. You just can't have one without the other and throughout the 26 different chapters that each focus particular artists, there's an in-depth story about what sparked their need to put their thoughts onto a canvas. Among those is Paul Krobiger and several of his fascinating interpretations of rock icons, including the below art piece that fuses the Iggy Pop of young and old with charcoal and ballpoint pen.

paul kobriger
"Iggy Pop" by Paul Kobriger

Kobriger joins a stacked list of featured artists, the likes of which include Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), Steve Caballero, Carla Harvey (Butcher Babies), Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Tim Armstrong (Rancid), Jim Lindberg (Pennywise), Matt Hensley (Flogging Molly), Shawn Foley, Tokyo Hiro, and so much more. Each of the individuals involved comes from a band of a different genre, different professions, and different art styles, yet they coalesce as one unified being that tell human stories as organic as the process they stem from.

One notable chapter from the book is centered around the works of Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 fame, who describes himself as "a painter who can rap". There's no question that he can rap, but if you've yet to see his ability to use art as a conduit for activism, you'll want to tune in. The below art piece, Barcode Kids, is a commentary on the striking occurrence of armed children across the world.

chali 2na barcode kids
"Barcode Kids" by Chali 2na

Like the lyricism of punk across time, Chali's work challenges the status quo and provokes thought, as art should. There's an eclectic selection of works throughout The Insides Of Artists Written By Outsiders that do just that, adding an additional element of analysis and insight. Whether it be the ongoing pandemic or the sociopolitical unrest, much has passed in contemporary times and it's through the music and arts that we retain a sense of sanity while remaining informed of the issues that be. Needless to say, The Insides Of Artists Written By Outsiders gives an inside look at how the times have shaped the lives and times of each of the artists as they set forth to craft art pieces that result from their own experiences.

In scanning the detailed pages of the book itself, there's no way a good cover like Motörhead's Rockaway Beach gets past us. Illustrated by Tokyo Hiro for the Record Store Day 2019 release, Rockaway Beach depicts the sunnier side of Lemmy and co. with Snaggletooth illuminating the trio as the center of the sun.

tokyo hiro Motörhead
Cover art by Tokyo Hiro

This isn't the only time that Hiro has worked with the Motörhead estate as he illustrated the album cover for their Louder Than Noise...Live in Berlin (2021) release as well. The tattoo artist has a wide range of abilities and has worked with the likes of Blink-182, Flogging Molly, Foo Fighters, Dokken and more. Hiro's chapter in the book details his artistic upbringing and ongoing success in the realm, making it a chapter you'll want to indulge in.

The beauty of art is that it's open to interpretation and it connects with viewers in more ways than one. Jason Cruz' (Strung Out) Jesus Freak below is one of those pieces that welcomes a deeper look for the meaning behind it extends beyond the simple view of a woman holding a semi-hollow body guitar. Nielsen and Fitzgerald include it among the plethora of other works that encourage multiple visits.

jason cruz
"Jesus Freak" by Jason Cruz

With a vibrant cover by LA's own RISK (Kelly Graval) and a brilliant layout by Belle McClain, The Insides Of Artists Written By Outsiders presents itself as the byproduct of passionate, like-minded individuals coming together for the spirit of punk rock, making it a worthwhile addition to living rooms, book shelves, and collections across the world. It's an accessible composition that thrives on variety, encouraging multiple reads way past its release date. With an eclectic selection of featured artists, behind the scenes pictures, and motives, Punk Rock & Paintbrushes welcome all to an enthusiastic read that excites as much as it does inform. We'd be remiss not to make this highly recommended.


Punk Rock & Paintbrushes: The Insides Of Artists Written By Outsiders is available now and you can order your copy HERE.

punk rock and paintbrushes
Cover art by Kelly Graval (RISK)


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