Reggie Williams is a mixed media artist in Phoenix, AZ. He's originally from Miami and was a former construction worker, but lost everything in a hurricane in 2011. He's been living under a freeway for the last 5 years here. He used to hate showing his artwork to people but now spends all day painting. It keeps him off drugs, it allows him to express himself. He's created over 1,500 paintings to date. A month ago, he lost everything again in a good old dirty Arizona monsoon. He's used to starting with a blank canvas (you see what I did there). He likes to give his paintings away for free.

I'm just a gal who saw a news article about Reggie. I thought "hey, he probably gets donations all the time, but why don't I bring him some canvases and paint." Turns out people only bring him donations when they want something from him. He was weirded out that I drove 25 miles to bring a stranger a bag of art stuff. The Walmart cashier was weirded out when I told her I wasn't a painter. My therapist was also weirded out that I hang out with homeless people in my free time, but I digress. He made me laugh a lot so I told him I'd build him a website. I know nothing about building websites. He doesn't think anyone will buy anything. I've been looking at r/all on Reddit on my phone for the last 2 years with no account, just for entertainment. Please don't judge me. Today I finally made an account so I could tell the world about how awesome Reggie is. He deserves it.

He doesn't have Internet because, you know, homeless and all, so I am posting this AMA. Feel free to ask either of us questions about anything. Questions directed to Reggie will be asked of him via phone call and I will type his response. Beware - he can be very sarcastic.

Edit: For those asking, the art work for sale on his site is all donation based - it's name your own price! Not $5,000. :-)

Edit: Going to take a break for now! Will be back around 4 PM MST to answer more questions. Love all the discussion about values and homeless advocacy going on!

Edit: I'm taking another break! Gonna watch Castaway and eat some dinner with my husband...he's concerned at how long I've been staring at the screen today! I will definitely answer every question (and troll question), but some may be tomorrow!

Proof - https://imgur.com/a/ZwRompi

Additional video proof (a video from Reggie) - https://streamable.com/7jq61

The painting he sold for $5000 - https://imgur.com/a/aPBt8mP

Website - www.macmoons.com

Email - [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])

Comments: 452 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

red_beered662 karma

Is he currently housed? Ever thought of joining an art collective? How does he decide what to paint?

tobealiveisbeautiful790 karma

He just got into a place to live a few weeks ago! Although, he didn't mind living under the tunnel either. He likes to live freely, and no rent or job means he gets to paint all day.

He is not currently part of an art collective but is interested in it! He just got offered his first show which will happen at the end of October. I'm also working on getting his art submitted to a few studios!

His inspiration to paint mostly comes from living on the streets, cultural icons, and requests from other people. He told me he never runs out of ideas, he always has something in his head he wants to create :)

Wisgood291 karma

Reggie -- Why would you giveaway your profit from the art work you made, instead of using that money to get back on your feet first? Do you not trust yourself with that money, did you not wonder if it could've helped you more than who you gave it to? Or are you genuinely content where you are in life so to feel like you don't need money?

Your generosity sounds unwarranted, totally inspiring to give everything to others, but I hope you are taking care of yourself too!

Much love, Wisgood

tobealiveisbeautiful317 karma

Hey Wisgood! Really great and insightful question. Firstly, Reggie gave the money to the other gentleman because the other guy was older and unable to work, so he feels since he was the star of the portrait, he deserved the money.

Additionally, he doesn't always give away the money from his paintings. That's how he sustains himself (he just bought a, and I quote, 'ghetto pizza' for lunch right now with some paintings he sold last night)! It's not enough to necessarily get him off the streets, but it is enough to keep him fed and clean.

Lastly, he is pretty content with where he is in life. Being homeless wasn't entirely his choice, but he's made peace with where he is and he enjoys the freedom it gives him to paint.

Much love!

LegendOfDylan66 karma

What is a ghetto pizza?

tobealiveisbeautiful157 karma

Hahaha apparently one with bologna and leftover sausage? I don't know. Some cheap meat lover's pizza!

Vyzantinist188 karma

Hi, Kat. Have you ever considered doing more homeless advocacy? What exactly about Reggie's story drew you to his plight?

Reggie: you have great artistic skills! How do you feel about the potential exposure from all this?

I gotta say, as a homeless guy just down the road in Tucson, your friendship is certainly inspiring!

tobealiveisbeautiful317 karma

Hi! I have considered doing more homeless advocacy. I currently work for the fire department as a crisis response EMT, so I do get to interact with that population a lot. Next fall I'll start a Masters program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to become a LPC, and after that I'll be applying to medical school! I want to be a therapist before becoming a doctor because I feel that primary care medicine (and medicine in general) needs a radical shift in it's ability to treat mental health. My end goal is to work in medicine, specifically with homeless and inmate populations, to help with this.

He's happy people like his stuff. He hopes people enjoy looking at it as much as he enjoys making it! His end goal is to get a studio for himself, so exposure could potentially help with that. He was recently donated a trailer to get out from under the freeway.

And hey, I went to school in Tucson! I spent many a days having pizza parties with y'all at the park on Stone and Speedway. Take care of yourself out there! Let me know if you need anything.

Aphorism10374 karma

Yo, resident PCP with similar interests in the west coast, it sounds like you don’t need much assistance or guidance already, but feel free to shoot me any q’s regarding medical school and medicine. Keep it up! You’ll go far in medicine and help a lot of people with this background. The system certainly needs more people like you.

tobealiveisbeautiful7 karma

I will reach out to you if I think of any. Luckily my husbands in medical school so I have a bit of an inside perspective too. Thanks so much :)

bobbbbbbbbbbo22 karma

A true Tucson-an knows this exact park.

tobealiveisbeautiful14 karma

Yessss!

WigglestonTheFourth126 karma

Does he need supplies? I'm of the area and would be happy to contribute supplies.

tobealiveisbeautiful114 karma

You're awesome! He always needs supplies. You can message me or on the website under 'donate' there is an address to send donations!

MrBae109 karma

Why would a homeless person give away $5,000 to another homeless person instead of getting out of that dire situation? Why are you doing this AMA?

tobealiveisbeautiful183 karma

He told me that the man he did the portrait of was an older homeless gentleman who is unable to work. He figured he was older and since he is the direct reason he was able to make a profit (without him, the inspiration for the art wouldn't have existed), he deserved the money.

We are doing this AMA in order to post his new website, because all funds are going to support him and hopefully secure him a studio! Also, because who doesn't love to hear about a rad dude named Reggie who paints in ketchup?

t-bone_malone72 karma

First of all, you're awesome for providing a legitimately helpful and concrete service to a total fucking stranger. You should be proud of yourself. "Make tiny changes".

Secondly, Reggie is dope af and a lot of these paintings are pretty awesome. Are these all available for purchase? And if so, how much? I'd like to purchase but I dunno if I got that fine art $5000 type of money.

tobealiveisbeautiful41 karma

The one's in his portfolio are just now available as merchandise! So the originals have been sold but we can make stickers and such. As he makes new paintings, I'll post them for sale. All paintings and commissions are donations based! No need for $5000 :-)

OvumRegia59 karma

To Reggie, what brand of ketchup did you start of with?

tobealiveisbeautiful74 karma

Ketchup from Wendy's! It was free, so he used to fill up a water bottle with Wendy's ketchup every day and paint with it.

Girthking42020 karma

If it isn't the Shrek green Heinz I will be dissapointed

tobealiveisbeautiful40 karma

Shrek is love.

heyohwife39 karma

Three questions:

  1. What kind of commissions do you do, Reggie?
  2. What's your favourite Jeff Goldblum film? (That one is for both Kat and Reggie :) )
  3. Where did the name "Macmoons" come from?

tobealiveisbeautiful69 karma

  1. He'll do any commission with a Reggie spin, but he'll never paint the same thing twice!

  2. Holy Man for Reggie. Cats & Dogs for me ;-)

  3. When he was younger living in Ohio, he wanted to do graffiti. He didn't want to get involved with any gangs or anything, but there was this older group of kids (from China and Australia) who hung out and did graffiti. He used to follow them around on his bike and learn. They always told him to go home, but he loved hanging around them. They started calling him Macmoons. They taught him graffiti - that's where the vibrant colors in his art today comes from. On his first ever graffiti piece, he signed Macmoons and it just stuck.

Cerveza8729 karma

Hi Reggie from the UK!

I hope the people you deal with regularly are kind!

General question you may not get asked that often; how are you, are you alright?

tobealiveisbeautiful50 karma

Hi from AZ! He said that he hasn't been alright in the head since he was born. Hahaha.

prelon199020 karma

Great work with the website Kat!

And Reggie is definitely a great artist. What a passion. It really shows in the work.

Also, the compassion of both of you guys is amazing. Don't change that because that is precious. The world would be a better place with more people like you.

As for questions, who bought the $5000 painting? And was it donated to someone, you guys knew?

tobealiveisbeautiful27 karma

Thanks so much! Modern day technology makes me feel like a real-life web developer but really I just know how to click buttons.

I love his art because you can really see his whole story in every painting!

The $5000 painting was purchased by a stranger in Scottsdale! They hung it in their home as far as we know.

huiuiui15 karma

I would put the painting with the koala woman in my living room in a heartbeat.

Are any of the paintings for sale?

tobealiveisbeautiful25 karma

I love that one! I can make a canvas print or poster, etc. of that specific painting if you are interested and post it for sale on the site. Just message me if you are!

All of the current paintings were sold out in the last few hours on the site. We will be posting more though in the next few days and of course after that. Commissions are also always available! And we have a Society6 store with merch.

Tyler2929415 karma

What makes Reggie someone that really stood out to you? You mention you spend time with other homeless individuals, so what about Reggie, outside of the donation, told you to put this extra effort in?

tobealiveisbeautiful59 karma

Good question! If I could help every homeless person, I totally would. I think that often people who are the 'easiest' to help are the ones who are also working to help themselves. He's out there creating art in and for the community and he has a desire to make his dreams a reality. Not every person who is homeless has a desire to get off the streets or have a passion project, and that's okay. They still deserve the same support and kindness. I think what made Reggie stand out to me specifically is he has a dream and he just needs some extra support to make it possible. I have connections and resources that he doesn't, so it only makes sense to share those with him. He's talented, and sometimes you just get a gut feeling and this website was a gut feeling for me! Worst case it only cost me a few hundred and some time, and I made a new friend. Best case he gets a studio and will help more people in the future.

Evilchickennuggets12 karma

How can we be sure that these questions are actually going to him, and you're not just making up these responses? Your proof doesn't actually show us anything. This whole thing feels really shady.

tobealiveisbeautiful21 karma

Good question. I'd like to think someone wouldn't pretend to be a homeless dude, spend hours of their free time making a website, spend more hours selling the art, spend money on gas driving 30 miles each way to take pictures of the art, and then post it all on the Internet for some karma and money...BUT that sounds exactly like the thing someone might do! I am not, however if you let me know what kind of proof you're looking for, I'd be happy to provide! I could go take a picture with Reggie this evening? Or what did you have in mind?

original_greaser_bob11 karma

ketchup or catsup?

tobealiveisbeautiful27 karma

ketsup

squid50s11 karma

To Reggie - What got you interested in painting?

tobealiveisbeautiful6 karma

He always did sketches, since he was younger. When he moved to AZ and was living under the freeway, people saw his stuff and started bringing him different supplies. They brought him acrylic paint and canvases so he just started to try it out and ended up loving it!

OCD_disorder779 karma

(For Reggie) Despite losing everything twice, it sounds like you've been doing much better than most people in your situation. Why don't you try to cash in on one of your art pieces so you can have a spot to live? It would be much more beneficial to have a creative space- not to mention a bed and a roof over your head.

tobealiveisbeautiful11 karma

He would like a studio but he also doesn't want to sacrifice his freedom so it can be a tough act to juggle!

foolsmonologue9 karma

Reggie, what do you wish more people knew about what it’s like to be homeless?

Kat, I just want you to know how appreciative I am of your outreach. I know not everyone understands or is willing to try and give help. I’ve been friends with a homeless woman for about three years now and have seen her through a lot, and it breaks my heart when people are cruel about her struggles. It is so hard to pull yourself out of poverty. Not everyone is actually trying, which makes it even harder for the folks who are. Keep fighting the good fight — both of you!

tobealiveisbeautiful24 karma

He said he wish that more people knew that being homeless is fine. What he means by that is people assume it's this terrible life, but a lot of people are homeless by choice and they don't necessarily dislike it. People have this expectation of what life is supposed to look like: a car, a house, a job. It's not for everyone. He wishes more people knew that he likes what he does.

I appreciate your comment! That's awesome that you've befriended her. I always tell others, the homeless are just people without a house! Society definitely makes it difficult to get yourself out of that situation.

relddir1239 karma

Phoenix is supposed to have several monsoon storms over the next few days. Reggie, what are you doing to protect yourself and your art?

tobealiveisbeautiful17 karma

He recently was donated a trailer to at least get out of the tunnel so he is currently there with his art! Also, on the website I added a donate section where people can donate items such as waterproof tarps and bins to keep his work safe. A few people have already purchased those so that should help! The tunnel keeps a lot safe until it floods, but moving forward we're hoping he can get a studio to eliminate this problem.

Side note, as someone in AZ - yay monsoons!

KillJxys8 karma

What’s a Homo sapien ?

tobealiveisbeautiful7 karma

It's a me

KillJxys4 karma

And ...... what’s a me ? .....

tobealiveisbeautiful11 karma

A you

He11oK1tty7 karma

How often are commissioned/requested paintings able to be made? I really love his Stephen King related paintings (all of his paintings really but specifically the King ones) and would like something similar. Nothing specific just whatever he came up with.

tobealiveisbeautiful7 karma

He does all the requests he can! If you email us at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) we can talk further :)

Latest-greatest6 karma

Where did he learn to be so kind? Was it his family or surroundings?

tobealiveisbeautiful27 karma

He said he checked out a book at the library called 'How to Be Kind for Dummies.'

necro_sodomi6 karma

Does Reggie have a drug or alcohol problem? Is Reggie physically or mentally disabled?

tobealiveisbeautiful17 karma

He does not and is not!

Re-lar-Kvothe6 karma

His go fund me page is not available. Any idea why?

Plus, you are an amazing person for accepting the responsibility for all of this. You are a national treasure.

tobealiveisbeautiful12 karma

The GoFundMe was created by someone else after reading the news story. It didn't gain any money and they eventually shut it down. I like the idea of a website better than Go Fund Me, because it gives a purpose to the dollar. People can have art in their home rather than just blindly contributing to a cause. It's commerce.

Thank you. :)

Simple_Process6 karma

Why is it gone? Is there a link to the original post?

tobealiveisbeautiful2 karma

Mods deleted it for lack of proof. Here's a video from Reggie though!
https://streamable.com/7jq61

idryed3 karma

Can I buy the paintings online?

tobealiveisbeautiful4 karma

There's currently only one painting left on the site after today! We will be posting more though in the next few days and of course after that. Additionally, we have a site on Society6 to sell merchandise like stickers and posters! If you have a specific piece you like that you would want to purchase in sticker or other merchandise form, let me know and I can add it to the shop :-)

JesusWasWayCool2 karma

How does reggie get paid? Does he have an account set up somewhere (and if so, who manages it) or are people essentially giving him cash? Is his goal to become self sustainable or to give large amounts of money away to other people?

tobealiveisbeautiful8 karma

Good question! People on the streets pay for his art in cash which he automatically uses to sustain himself (food, hygiene, etc). He also has a PayPal which is the way he will be paid from the site. Again, that money is currently used to sustain himself and his art at the most basic levels: purchasing canvases, supplies, food, shelter when needed. But the idea of getting off the street is a bit more complex and more expensive than just selling some paintings here and there. He is more interested in getting a studio before a home because he really loves to paint as often as possible and enjoys the freedom he currently has! He also loves giving to others.

MiniAndretti2 karma

What do you use as a shaving lubricant?

tobealiveisbeautiful3 karma

Some yummy Ethiopian food from this place called Gojo.

Hendhogarrr2 karma

Totally off-topic question to you Kat: why is that proof picture nsfw rated? And another one: Would it be possible to buy a painting and get it send to Germany?

tobealiveisbeautiful2 karma

What do you mean by NSFW rated?

And very likely! Message me and let’s talk a little more. I need to research a bit on international customs.

The_Jeet2 karma

Do you personally know any other intelligent species besides homo sapiens?

tobealiveisbeautiful3 karma

Uhhhh...phone a friend!

fleekyclean2 karma

What made you want to say homo sapien in your opening line? Did you consult Reggie?

tobealiveisbeautiful2 karma

Hahaha to be honest, I thought it would make people give the title a second look! Looking back, I would change it to just human. Whoops :)

SpiderGoat922 karma

This is awesome, well done! Have you considered telling your therapist to fuck off? I really don’t get how he/she can judge you for being nice to a poor man.

tobealiveisbeautiful12 karma

Oops! My therapist was totally joking. Should have added a /s (am I reddit-ing right?)

But yeah, she knows me well and everyone in my life knows I hang out with homeless people and do other 'weird' things so it's not unexpected around here :-)

Smuldering1 karma

Love the Stephen King one and would love to see that on some stickers or something, like the society6 stuff you’ve got. May be purchasing some small stuff like that for my husband and his brother.

Do you have a mailing list for when you add more things to purchase, either directly on the site or on society6? I’d be totally interested in being added to it.

tobealiveisbeautiful4 karma

I can add some stickers and other products with that Stephen King artwork to Society6! Just give me a few hours and then check back :)

Also, don't have a mailing list yet but feel free to message me your email and I'll get one set up! Cheers.

zeion1 karma

does reggie have plans for the next hurricane?

tobealiveisbeautiful8 karma

Luckily we live in Arizona so no hurricanes here! Just haboobs and monsoons and endless heat.

killemslowly1 karma

How long have you had the dental fixers? Do you find your speech being affected by the homeless?

tobealiveisbeautiful4 karma

2 months! But I had them as a kid actually and this is my 2nd round because I didn't wear my retainer in college.

ajanisue1 karma

Hello and thanks for this AMA! Is there a way to get on a list notifying me of when/where his show is?

tobealiveisbeautiful2 karma

Hi! Hope you are well. :) I'm going to add an 'Events' column to the website within the next few days, as we've gotten a few offers from studios. I'm also going to create an email list! If you want, message me and I can add you.

dirkmcnizzy51501 karma

Does he ever go to first Friday's on Roosevelt? I have a few friends that are part of an art collective n have galleries. Lmk if he wants to hook up with them for Oct

tobealiveisbeautiful4 karma

He's in the Glendale area right now so I don't think he does! But that would be awesome. Let me just double check that would be something he is definitely interested in and I will message you :)

PatheticRedditMeme-18 karma

What's the deal with the dumb fuck title you wrote up?

tobealiveisbeautiful8 karma

Please help me come up with a better one! It's my first Reddit post ever.