The best artists are invisible. You don’t know their face, but you know their work. You don’t see their names until you dive deeper and do a little bit of research. Sometimes, artists fall into all sorts of obscurity, with their only identity being their work. Luckily, Alex Rhek isn’t as reclusive and shows his face to the community (but oddly, not to the cameras). In the last couple decades, he has evolved from graffiti and rap to art, visual design, product design, DJing, running his own businesses and more.

Originally hailing from Canada’s eastern most province – Nova Scotia, Rhek has lived in various spots including Boston and Montreal before moving west to Vancouver, British Columbia. As a youth, graffiti made a big impact on his life. To him, it was unabashedly vandalism, embodying an undercurrent of unrest. It was taking space and making it your own. It was a secret society. It was unruly, and it was a real fun time.

His biggest take away from graffiti was that it was the ultimate in Do It Yourself (DIY) hustle.

“You go out and do your own thing, there are no rules and you don’t have to listen to anyone. You make your own name for yourself and put it out into the world with pride. You get dirty and you’re only as good as your hard work and that sort of punk, do-for-self attitude – I try to carry it everywhere I go.”

Carrying that ethos forward, Rhek’s current work is not just confined to his where he lives. Instead, his work can be seen across many cities and in many different forms.

“One of the beautiful things about being a graphic designer is that you are not necessarily location based. I get to travel. All I need is Wi-Fi and a pantone book and I‘m good to go. Plus, different cities and countries and cultures can really influence and broaden your design perspective, ‘cause solid design is universal”

Still, Rhek has been a staple in his own community in Vancouver. He brands local businesses, he DJs and he’s had brick and mortar businesses including Sharks & Hammers clothing store, Sea Monstr Sushi, plus an art gallery and a ramen shop. If you’re from there, you would have seen his posters and his artwork all over and, at the very least, you would have seen stickers of RHEK in big bold lettering dotted around all the cities he’s visited.

As a freelancer, his primary income is working on other people’s projects. Still, he always manages to make time for personal work and passion projects. Whether it’s a zine, a painting, helping out a friend, his own “jankytown” drawings, or a brick and mortar store, Rhek thinks these side projects are very important for a creative. Cold World Frozen Goods is a good example of this.

“I do a lot of client work for a lot of businesses. A lot of times, my best ideas get ruined or molested by client input and taste. That’s the nature of the beast and I don’t take it personal. I do my best to steer them in the right direction but in the end, they’re paying for it, they need to be satisfied and I can wipe my tears away with their payment. Don’t’ get me wrong – my client work is great but it’s also important to get your own ideas out in your own way too.”

“Cold World Frozen Goods is a way for me to put out designs the way I want them to be and how I think they should be. It is my presentation of aesthetics and mainly, it’s just fun to do. I really like making stuff. Like taking a joke to the highest level and making it physical.”

As a man of many talents and interests, the tagline on his website encapsulates him well. Art & creative direction. Graphic design. Million-dollar ideas. Make waves & eat everything.

Learn more and follow Rhek @rhek