With a last name like Meatyard, Rhys was destined for something unusual.
But Meatyard, who is non-binary, trans-masculine, didn’t get the chance to dive into their funky pop-culture centric work until the age of 40.
“I kind of did my life backwards: Got married when I was 17, had three little kids,” Meatyard said. “Doing art wasn’t the responsible choice.”
But “doing art” is Meatyard’s new reality; the creator is “full-time, halftime” working as a freelance artist, graphic designer and art director for Friend Club Records.
Before they touched the graphic design world, Meatyard was working on tombstones and spending more than your average amount of time in St. Petersburg cemeteries.
Meatyard’s mother worked as a stone carver for a cemetery, and naturally, Meatyard picked up the knack of designing the marble and granite tombstones themselves.
“I didn’t have an ideal childhood; I left home at 15, I had kids really young,” Meatyard said. “But I do remember going to cemeteries and watching my mom stencil the stones. I always liked the typography on them…I was fascinated with the letter forms. It’s a big part of who I am.”
After their long journey back to art, Meatyard studied fine art at St. Petersburg’s Eckerd College, and holds a portfolio of wildly different work and mediums, usually with a meta twist.
“I live paycheck to paycheck. I’m not killing it on the money front, but I’ve arrived,” the artist said. “After a lifetime of chasing the carrot of financial security.”
Meatyard came out as non-binary a little over two years ago, prompting a transition from their previous oil portraits and “dry” work to the layered graphic design images seen today.
“Until I had my s**t figured out, it felt like a gigantic joke that I had talent,” Meatyard said. “I could reproduce an image, paint portraits, but there was no soul in it.”
Meatyard creates digital images like the wildly popular Post Malone Cartoon, “Always Hungry,” a play on the rapper’s face tattoo that famously reads “Always Tired.”
They came out with a line of soap art with scents like “Smelly Pits” and “Smoky Air” to pay homage to the time of music festivals before COVID-19.
Meatyard’s icon is a thick flank of t-bone steak. It all pokes fun at instantly recognizable images, and often adds a dark twist to light concepts.
About the soap:
“They smell good, I swear,” Meatyard said. “I just like to come at art with a sense of humor; there’s so much horror in the world, why not laugh a little?”