Man Behind the Can: Meet The Artist Putting The “Fantasy” In Ultra Fantasy Ruby Red

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Monster Energy Ultra gave Mark “Pinky” Taylor a blank “can-vas” to create the unique look for its latest flavor.

Art 
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10 years ago, Mark “Pinky” Taylor sketched a simple doodle that caught an eye at a Monster Energy event. Today, he is about to become one of the most prolific artists in the world, as his playful artwork scurries, skips and scampers across literally millions of cans of Monster Ultra Fantasy Ruby Red, sold all over the US. Pinky’s graffiti put him on the map, coining his signature artistic style. Teaming up with Monster Ultra, Pinky has put his mark on the brand’s new flavor: Ultra Fantasy Ruby Red.

Hypebeast chatted with Pinky to discuss his artistic inspiration, the process behind these collaborative cans, and how he connects on a personal level with Monster Energy.

Hypebeast: Tell us about how you have used graffiti as a form of self-expression throughout your life.

Pinky: Starting when I was eight years old, I got into art and after school, I was in a higher-level art program. My first cross-cultural exhibition was in Japan. I came across somebody that did graffiti and the fun characters blew my mind. I couldn’t imagine you could add in such a fun, animated element at that age. So then I started playing with that and developing it, and then that’s how my art pinkypop123 came about. Graffiti is always a great medium for self-expression because you can send messages, play on people’s emotions, and just uplift their day.

As your interest in art began at a young age, how have you evolved and flourished in your craft since then?

I was lucky to leave high school early on a college art program when I was 16. That was a fine art program so I practiced a lot of mediums. I’ve always been taught all these correct ways to do art from such a young age. And what’s funny is I would rebel against that and go back to the vibe and emotions I created when I was a kid — when there were no rules. So everything I’ve learned I’ve tried not to use, which is kind of ironic. There have been a lot of happy mistakes that happen along the way and a lot of trial and error. Sometimes things don’t work out, but it’s all a learning process. I like to color outside the lines. Over the years, it’s developed into a more refined version of my craft.

What inspires you daily?

I would say just people in general. Nature is another big inspiration for me. I surf and skating was a big part of my life as well. Being outside and just connecting with random people and nature, the energy you get from it is so inspiring. I mean, it’s cliche, but if you just look at the sky, it’s like a new airbrush every day. That’s another reason I like traveling a lot too — getting to meet different people from different cultures and mindsets.

What spurred your passion for graffiti and why is this a medium you are drawn to?

The art in this collaboration with Monster Energy became a staple style for me over the years. I developed it from graffiti I created when I was young. It has now become its own living thing: pinkypop123. The texture is a huge element for me in my work and specifically for this collab. In my past work, spray paint would be the go-to texture and I would work off of those vibrant colors. It has now evolved from that to digital and canvas versions. Even the smells, when working with spray paint, bring me back to the smell of art class when I was super young, and then I can tap into that emotion again.

“If you look at the action sports athletes Monster partners with and any collabs they do, what I love about Monster Energy is that they tap into who the person is. They don’t put any limits on collabs and they let you be you, which I think is amazing. Especially nowadays, it’s really cool to collaborate without art restrictions.”

Walk us through what your creative process usually looks like when starting a new piece or project.

I just have fun with it and tap into my inner child. I first set the foundation of the mood with the colors, and I’ll create that texture and just be wild with it. And then as I’m working, I’ll start bringing some more structure to it. At the end, I’ll add the black outlines to create distinct shapes and finish it off. Over the years, I started creating characters, and people started relating to them. I kept them vague so people could add their own backstory to the characters. I also evoke a lot of emotion through color, so sometimes I’ll use dark colors to convey ‘evil’ and brighter colors to symbolize ‘good.’

You have collaborated with various other brands in the lifestyle and fashion spaces — how do you intentionally choose partnerships that align with your craft?

I’ve gotten to travel and meet a lot of people through amazing collaborations. I think it’s fun for people to come into contact with my work and to see how they interact with it. Even if it’s not really for you, it always does evoke a reaction. I’m really lucky that my work has become its own thing now because it lives on. With this Monster Energy collaboration, I’m bringing some of my characters back to life again. I was at an event with Monster some time back and I drew a doodle there that really resonated. And that became the starting point for this can art, now over 10 years later.

While Monster Energy is all dirt bikes, race cars and MMA, Monster Ultra leans into a slightly different space; they support tastemakers, disruptive art and street fashion. How did you strike creative synergy between your artistic outlook and that of Monster Ultra? And what was your approach to designing the new Fantasy Ruby Red cans?

Monster has always been amazing with me. And not only me. If you look at the action sports athletes they partner with and any collabs they do, what I love about Monster Energy is that they tap into who the person is. They don’t put any limits on collabs and they let you be you, which I think is amazing. Especially nowadays, it’s really cool to collaborate without art restrictions. The backstory of the cans I created for Monster, very loosely, is a story of good and evil. I included a lot of fun characters on the can — a bunny, a cat, a bear — and the colors are opposing colors of cool and warm to portray that story.

This latest Monster Energy Ultra flavor, Fantasy Ruby Red is all about embracing fantasy. How does this concept play out in your art?

It’s a huge part of my work. The fantasy element allows you to have no rules. You can just be creative without boundaries. Even in my other work, I play on the idea of good energy and bad energy. So that aligns super well with Monster Energy as well. The fact that I’m from South Africa, and have been creating this work and building these characters since I was a child — it’s a really full-circle moment for me.

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