We had the good fortune of connecting with Keith P. Rein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keith P., have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work/Life Balance: what’s that again? I think the balance between work & life is about being mindful of your needs & understanding the balance will always be in motion.
When I was younger and just starting my careers in illustration & graphic design, my balance was full tilt, work heavy. In order to promote my work, I was taking on every job that came across my desk – even if it meant learning something new to complete the task at hand. I did this all while opening and working at a bakery with my partner at the time.
It was a lot more difficult for me to feel comfortable taking time off when I was first starting out. Nowadays, I’ve learned to slow down when needed and say no to jobs when I’m completely booked, or needing a break. As a creative, we’ll always face some sort of artists’ block, and I take that as a sign to step away and put some energy into other aspects of my life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m an artist & graphic designer currently based in Athens, GA where I studied photography, illustration, & design, culminating in an illustration style that touches upon photorealism, pop art, and comic art. Primarily working in mixed media, I blend the analogue techniques of watercolor with the modern teachings of digital painting, producing a unique aesthetic that has been described as being simultaneously whimsical and titillating.
I’m often described as a low-brow neo pin up artist, and my personal, art brand, Keith P. Rein: The P is for Penis is my creative outlet for exploring humor, aesthetics, pop culture, & the pleasurable where one can find my artwork on bottle openers, stickers, paintings, shirts, skateboards, limited edition giclee prints, & much more.
My brand is full of many themes, but I’m most known (and pigeon-holed) for my work that touches upon sexuality & humor, exploration, acceptance, and sex positivity. Many of my clients hire me for empowered portraits of themselves or partners to share and embrace that side of them, as gifts, or totems of their own greatness. haha, I also do pet & family portraits too.
The P is for Penis began in 2008 when I needed a moniker to help separate my personal work from my commercial freelance work, and the name was born over a conversation and a bottle of wine. A reminder that it’s okay to be cheeky.
It’s success is maintained by traveling the country vending at comic, tattoo, design, & art conventions, while maintaining an online market place, submitting my work to galleries and boutiques, and curating my own art shows connecting & lifting up other artists while we work for a collective goal.
Unlike the quote “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” (Twain), it is a lot of work AND you will work everyday of your life. However, one doesn’t mind the work as much when it’s your own making.
In 2005 I started a bespoke wedding invitation business called Paper Thin, that quickly evolved into a full freelance graphic design business. With it’s growth and gaining a long list of clients in the service & beverage industries, I shifted the name to Salt & Paper House. I’m still working with many new and recurring businesses & creatives consulting and designing their needs for brand identity and marketing peripherals such as logo design, product design, & online/print media.
In 2018, my label design for Second Self Beer Company’s Manic Pixie Dream No.1 received second place in USA Today’s Best Beer Labels of the year. The limited release 4 pack of beer contained a unique illustration and pattern showcasing the 4 main flavors making the beer unique; coffee, maple, bourbon, & oatmeal.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It’s pretty apparent in my work and the companies I work with, that food is a big part of my life. If you came to Athens, expect to eat and drink, quite a lot. When experiencing a new city, I like to taste a little bit of everything, and that’s how I host as well.
Come up and we’d start with some light plates to share and probably one or two cocktails too many at The National – the bar, or outside seating, is the perfect atmosphere to catch up and loosen up over their cocktail program. Athens is a small town and it’s easy to walk through the entire downtown area – so we’d mosey through, stopping at some local shops to peruse.
I always suggest Dynamite Clothing for vintage & lightly used clothing. It’s got a fun atmosphere with a lot to look at. Lori, the owner, has a good eye for maintaining rare and accessible finds. It’s hard to leave without finding something. You may even be able to spot a picture of me hanging up from my Highschool homecoming?!
Up the street is another good spot called, Community which stocks a slew of local made items & clothing. KA Artist Shop & Archer Paper Goods are must stops for anyone into creating or cute desk accessories and paper goods.
For dinner, let’s head to 5 Points and restaurant hop so we can share a little bit of every restaurant together. Starting with Ex Pat, I suggest the Bufala Negra to drink, the chicken liver mouse with pickled strawberry crostini, and share the squid ink pasta main – remember, the plan is to share everything so you can have more!
Next, hit up Dinner Party two doors down. You have to get the crab rangoon and the bouncy peanut noodles, maybe something else to share. End with a Hard Start.
If you’ve got room for more food, checkout Butcher & Vine, El Barrio, The Pine, or The Root for other noms.
Maybe there’s a dance party happening outside of Little Kings, a local bar where you can spot many of Athens’ creatives & musicians hanging out. If you’ve danced the night away and are hungry once again, grab some late night bar fare from The World Famous just a few doors down.
Honarable mentions: Sea Bear Oyster Bar (get the frozen Negroni), Old Pal cocktail bar, Hi-Wire bar and food, Cali-N-Titos outdoor BYOB Peruvian & more.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This is difficult, because how does one show proper credit to everyone that’s made an impact or supported them along their creative path. It’s not just one person or act, it’s the continued support from friends, fans, & artists – from family, patrons, & businesses, that continue to encourage me when they come to my events, purchase my work, hire me for their businesses, help each other loading in to conventions, or even unwinding and sharing stories and advice to one another. It’s the community built around sharing, support, and creativity and I’ve found that’s something people can cultivate in various ways.
Jesse, Kimberly, Scooter, Lydia, Luke, Sam, Roeh, Poopbird, Studio Pen Pen, Sugar Fueled, Olga, Bryan, Second Self, Corey, Dave, Benito – thank you for the support, inspiration & friendships.
Other: Support me through Patreon for monthly content: behind the scenes, wallpapers, postcards, prints, https://patreon.com/thepisforpenis