To most Americans, homeless people can seem… invisible. That sentence might be tough to swallow, but it’s painfully true. They live in a world we’d rather not know about. One we willfully ignore. One we wish didn’t exist.
Enter Skid Robot. The L.A.-based graffiti artist is trying to make a difference on Skid Row — the epicenter of Los Angeles’s homeless community — by creating awareness around a very real problem. He uses spray paint, social media, and provocative artwork to shine a light on the 44,000 homeless sleeping in L.A. County on any given night. He is adding color to a gloomy forecast; a ray of sunlight in a sea of despair. He’s putting a face on a problem.
Which is ironic, because he wears a mask.
“Who I am is irrelevant to the message that I’m delivering,” says the late-20s-ish Skid Robot as we drive around Downtown L.A. for our interview.
Skid Row is the most impoverished and despair-ridden square mile in the country, which only fuels the man behind the mirrored mask and his plan to elevate L.A.’s homelessness crisis to the forefront of people’s brains. His Living Art Project aims to raise funds to purchase vacant lots zoned for housing so they can “construct temporary, emergency and permanent shelter using alternative housing methods.” Think colorful tiny houses like this.
“What people don’t understand is that there’s a severe lack of humanity when it comes to approaching this situation. It’s viewed as more a statistical problem than a human one.” This he tells me as we drive around the part of L.A. known as “the last house on the block.” He’s searching for the right spot to do a custom art installation, bringing 2D to 3D, his signature style.
We’re in the one neighborhood where L.A.’s homeless problem is impossible to ignore. Encampments, tents, lost souls and broken dreams line these sidewalks.