Proud To Be Punk: An Interview with Photographer Kris Kirk

Written & Curated by Lilly Ball


Kris Kirk doesn’t keep secrets. In the spirit of Gary Leonard’s gritty underground punk photography and Richard Bellingham’s unflinching family portraits, California native Kirk’s photographs play out like a diary—rough, frantic—an uncalculated sum of events filled with meaning or nothing at all. His work, as seen on, regards the world with a callous and careful eye, offering moments privatized and impulsive to their keeper. Kirk’s life, narrated here through a series of snapshots, seems deviant, free-spirited, and even bloody—but this is a life lived fully, to its limits, shown here at its most intimate. Enjoy these harsh, car-crash realities. But, really, Kris Kirk couldn’t care less what you think.


What are your tools for creating?
Well, if we are talking technically about tools I use to create, I’d say that I use a variety of different mediums to create. They range from cameras and Xerox machines to newspapers, ink and musical instruments. If you want to discuss other tools for creating, I’d say a tool I use is the tool of self-progression and fulfillment. It’s essentially very selfish, but the work I create is purely for myself. If people like it and appreciate it, that’s great. If not, who cares. I feel like you should pursue creativity from a personal level and create things that make you happy.


When did you start to identify yourself with punk culture?
I can safely say I started to identify with punk music at the end of 7th grade. I remember very clearly how it happened: My friend Bradley gave me two CDs in the driveway of our other friend Andrew’s house. They were the Misfits’ Static Age and the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bullocks. I didn’t actually get involved in punk culture until about 9th grade. That’s when I started playing music and attending shows. It all went downhill from there, let’s be real.


Do you think people who identify themselves with punk culture share similar histories?
Everyone has their own reasons for getting involved in it. There’s [the] social aspect, the community or even just feeling like you fit in somewhere as an awkward teenager. For me, it was a personal decision to get involved in the subculture and everything that has come from that. It has taught me a lot about myself as a person and how to have self-motivation and drive. You can’t just sit around and wait for someone else to extend their hand and help you, shit doesn’t work like that.


There seems to be a sense of arrested development that is universally accepted in the punk world. For example, it’s hard to imagine Sid Vicious paying his gas bill or calculating the tip at a restaurant. How do you balance the delicate nature of anti-society and anti-government with day-to-day living?
I like punk music and I’m involved in a music scene. I still have to pay my rent and get to work. Of course I’d like to not work and just run amuck because, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t? Yeah, the world is an awful place and humans are the worst beings to exist, but what can I do about that? You just deal with it and do what you want to do and hopefully that works for you. The whole anarchist approach to punk has always seemed dumb to me and I never connected with it. It’s just not for me.

“It all went downhill from there, let’s be real.”

It seems the meaning of being punk has moved away from its political origins. It’s interesting to see the fashion aspect of being punk surpass its primary motive—to rage against the machine. Does this concept still exist to you and your friends? What is the attraction to being punk in this age?
The political aspect of punk has never appealed to me at all. Neither has the dress-up game of being punk. Oh right, I have boots and a leather jacket: I’m a punk. Both of those are meaningless in the greater aspect of what punk is to me. Initially, it has always been about music for me. Maybe the attraction for me is being part of a community where people have the same mindset and possibly a similar outlook. It’s nice to go somewhere where mostly everyone is a friend and there are no qualms with one another, for the most part.


Who are your influences?
My friends are my main influence. Being surrounded by people who are creative and doing things is very important. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off one another or discuss certain motivations.


What are you going to do after this interview?
As of right now, I am going to go DJ a radio show, go to dinner, get a tattoo and work on some projects I have going on at the moment.






















Kris Kirk was born and raised in California and has resided there his entire life (as of now). It has taken him 6 years to complete community college. You can find more of his work at www.human— and follow him on Intragram @kristopherkirk.


Art curated by FORTH art editors.

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