September 30, 2013
A mix of Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton, Dr. Seuss and the depressed girl in your English class, artist Rob Reger has created a unique style all his own.
Reger, a Southern California native, grew up during the rebellious punk rock and skateboarding eras. He painted an image of a punk rock girl on the back of his skateboard – one of the first artists to infuse skating and artwork – which quickly launched the world of Emily the Strange. Reger still mixes this punk rock attitude with his fine art through his character Emily the Strange.
Emily is a punk rock chick with black cats and an attitude. She is a troublemaker with a cause, a girl with a stiff back bone, a role model for girls who aren’t the typical So-Cal blondies, someone who encourages young girls to be strong and independent and to think for themselves. Reger took the responsibility of influencing young women and never brought drugs, sex, or violence into the character. Reger is able to relate Emily to himself; not fitting in at high school, being torn between concerned and not concerned with what others thought, and the way he dressed. Punk rock taught him to express himself, accept himself as a weirdo, and let his freak flag fly.
When Reger teamed up with business partner Matt Reed in 1995, Reed focused on business and sales while Reger took on the creative director role of creating Emily’s persona. Together they formed the company, Cosmic Debris. The brand Emily the Strange quickly took off with clothing boutiques carrying the brand all over the world including books published in 20-plus languages, eventually opening stores in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Thailand and Greece. Emily has branched from her comic books to an animated band which will be produced by John King, producer of Beck, Beastie Boys and Tenacious D. The video premiered at Comic Con in San Diego.
In his earlier days, Reger worked on the Emily the Strange brand so he could work on his fine art; not for the money, but to spark curiosity, to invade people’s minds and to spark of creativity within them. Ranging from surrealist paintings to intricate collage work, Reger does it all. His last show, held at 111 Minna Gallery, showcased his interpretation of world history beginning with abstract paintings, watercolor pieces, surrealist life form collages and ending with post-apocalyptic artwork and transition to spirit and nature. He infused all the pieces by making things 3D, bringing in live plants and animation and making the pieces movable and interactive for viewers. He worked with other artists including Buzz Parker’s paintings on wood, Steve Ferrera’s blown glass and sculpture expertise, Jared Roths driftwood designs, Jim Dirschberger for animation, making the collages come to life, and Katie Harbaugh for all the plant installations. Reger’s timeline theme was created to encourage people to wonder what sort of creatures we are and how we take care of planet Earth.
“We are all natural and part of nature,” Reger said. “As much man made junk and trash we create, its all lifestyle choices and nature is always in control.”
Reger has a love for San Francisco that began as a young boy. “San Francisco is a pocket of all cultures, all versions of art and humanity with an easy escape to the natural world,” he said.