Royal Ralph Hazy IPA is the newest beer in our Shades of Haze series, a beer series that focuses on local artists who create the artwork for our cans. Recently we connected with R. Piper, the artist behind the third can in our series to find out more about his life as an artist, the inspiration for the artwork used for the can as well as the Mission Hills art scene as a whole. The image for the Royal Ralph can is actually a mural that R. Piper painted on the wall of our Missions Hills tasting room last year. We loved it so much that we used it as the base for our newest can design.

1. Tell us a little bit about how you got your start as an artist:

I was born into a family of artists, so creative self-expression and art was always encouraged and nourished in our household. Legend has it that from the age of 2 I already identified as an artist. By age 8 I had my first public painting displayed in a bank gallery in Mission Hills, by 16 I was commissioned to do a large outdoor mural on a business in Mission Hills and have been selling my art in local shops, cafes, and galleries ever since.

I remember getting my first taste of art classes at Grant Elementary, devouring any art medium I could get my paint-covered hands on. Constantly adding more to my artistic plate, working all the way up to getting multiple degrees from San Diego State University for graphic design, fine art, and psychology. As I continue to learn new forms of art I enjoy mixing and blending them together into my different jobs as an art therapist, circus artist, fine artist, branding graphic designer, art director, stage designer, and live art… etc. 

Ironically when I first stepped out of the comfort of my own home studio and into the wild world of live art performance it was in the back of the first Thorn Street Brewery just as they were just starting out too. So it feels really special to come back around full circle for this debut event! 

2. Tell us about the style of art that you create:

I like to tell stories with my art, incorporating philosophy, comedy, activism, and playful metaphors. Visually I tend to lean towards surrealism, adding my own symbolic embellishments to the real world! The mediums I like best are watercolor, spray paint, and ink, because I enjoy working with the fluid unpredictability of these mediums so that I stay present and surrender to the perfectly imperfect flow of creating.  

3. What or who has been your biggest influence, artistically?

My grandfather has been my biggest influence to become an artist. He too was a professional artist and always encouraged me to follow my passion in life, which is why I still wear his paintbrush around my neck as a reminder to keep going!

4. Tell us about the Mission Hills/San Diego art scene:

Having been raised in San Diego, I have seen the scene ebb and flow and watched my pieces come and go. Starting with that first Mission Hills exhibit at age 8 and moving on to a large Mission Hills mural at 16 which sadly has since been painted over. Live art and filling shops with my prints and now another mural so it feels good that I’ve been doing my pART to give back to the community that raised me. The art scene in Mission Hills feels a little more reserved and conservative compared to its bright and liberated neighboor of Hillcrest which was always a nice juxtaposition for me to source inspiration from. But that’s just how this city’s art community is; full of micro pockets of different styles and esthetics all collectively contributing to the full spectrum of the art scene.

5. Can you explain how you came up with the piece that you created for the Thorn beer can?

Well, I’ve always been a huge fan of raccoons, aka trash pandas, ever since they used to ransack our garbage cans in my childhood home in Mission Hills. Something about their mischievous mannerisms and delightfully dubious dexterity feels charming and almost regal. So when I got the chance to put my art up at Thorn, I proactively decided to do a new piece to honor Ralph the Royal trash panda adorning him with a newspaper crown that I actually collected and cut out real articles from the local mission hills newspapers and pasted them onto the mural itself! 

6. Where can people find your artwork available? 

There are tons of shops all over town that I cycle through but you can always see my most recent pieces and projects on my instagram @piperdesigns.

We are holding a release party for Royal Ralph on July 29th at Thorn Mission Hills from 5-8 pm so come on down and meet R. Piper in the flesh, grab a limited edition tee shirt inspired by the Royal Ralph mural and we will also have BBQ from Phil’s BBQ there too.

a photo of the beer can next to the beer in the glass a hazy ipa. The beer can is purple with a raccoon on the front in a crown.