Artist of the Week: Rodney King

Rodney King is a Puyallup-based artist who focuses on depicting Black culture and cityscapes.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?
Rodney King: I am most comfortable with acrylic for my paintings, with permanent and acrylic-based paint markers for detail. I also love working with colored pencils when I create my drawings.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
My process is about the vibe I’m feeling at the particular moment. I tend to get inspired by what I’m reading at the time or what I may be watching on television or on the internet. Music also has a huge influence on my art, and a combination of the three (books, television and music), leads to scribbling my ideas in my head before they reach the canvas. For instance, my latest piece came to mind as I was reading the book “Unseen Unpublished Black History from the New York Times Photo Archives.” I came upon a picture taken by an unidentified Times staffer covering Zora Neale Hurston in 1946, displaying young African American girls jumping rope in Harlem. The picture took me back to elementary school when my sister and the other little girls would jump rope at Leschi Elementary. I used the picture as my inspiration to create “Leschi 1988”.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
My inspiration comes from the Black experience. I try to display all that is beautiful when it comes to African Americans. Jazz, athletics, hip hop, R&B, politics, royalty and love. I am inspired by what I love and what I see, and what I feel. Black is beautiful!

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
As I think back to all of my paintings over the past couple years, my “beat” tends to revolve around music. I listen to a lot of soulful music as I create, rather it is Earth Wind and Fire, Aretha Franklin, Jay Z, Nas or Lauryn Hill. The soulfulness of the vocals churning from my speakers enhances what I bring to my pieces, and you can almost hear the melody in what I create with the rhythm of my strokes.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
I am in love with my latest piece. My mindset is my latest is the greatest. However, if I had to choose, I would have to say the Basquiat-inspired piece that adorns my dining room is extremely special to me. I put a lot of effort in the piece, and it serves as a double entender. It pays homage to Jay Z and Jean Michelle and the city of Brooklyn. It is based on Basquiat’s highest-selling art piece, and I just never seem to be able to part with it because I love it so much. Oh, and my wife claimed it as soon as she saw it, lol.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
COVID really affected my art the most. I had never painted before COVID, and the pandemic slowed the world down in 2020. When the pandemic first refocused my family and me, I didn’t know what to do with my free time. I started reading the Bible every day for a year, and then I eventually started drawing again. Drawing started taking its toll on my hands, and my wife suggested I try painting. Once I got the hang of it, the rest is history. I have been churning out paintings on a weekly basis for over two years.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
I am currently on display and available for purchase at Arte Noire on 23rd and Union. I will be featured at Fresh Flours on South Lake Union in mid-January for about two months, and you can see my latest work @_kingspen on Instagram as well under Rodney H King on

What’s next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I am excited about different art shows coming up in the summer and being featured at more venues in partnership with In the future, I plan on working with more local artists and creating a Harlem Renaissance-type art scene locally.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
Haha. Well, nowadays, I take my coffee from my Keurig, which my wife purchased in order to save on all the money I was spending at Starbucks. My preferred cup of Joe is Tully’s Hawaiian Blend with some Italian Sweet Crème.

About ‘Artist of the Week’: This city is packed with artists we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at [email protected]. And if you’re wondering just what constitutes art, that’s the beauty of it; it’s up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.