Inspiration Everett Reynolds: Stories of People of Color Through Large Scale Art


How do his upbringing and experiences inspire a fruitful contemporary art career? What are his most popular pieces?

Join us shine the spotlight on our ZenARTist of February 2021, Everett Reynolds. Born and raised in two very different countries, Everett truly has a treasure trove full of experiences to draw art inspiration from at a young age. Let’s take a look at his personal and professional life, as well as his inspirations.

Early Life in Belize
Beginnings in the USA
Life of Art
Selected Pieces from Everett’s Body of Work

Everett Reynolds is a young self-taught Chicago-based contemporary artist whose body of work includes expressive, vivid portraits and large-scale murals. Having roots in Belize, Central America, he was immersed in different cultures and has lived a life full of resourcefulness and creativity.

Everett’s contemporary portraiture and art inspiration can be perceived as a visual representation of the stories of people of color. He often paints faces of regular people to evoke reflection and as a reminder of that genuine human connection that society is neglecting. Everett is a full-time visual artist whilst running his own tattoo art business.

“I want my work to not only be perceived as beautiful but also timeless and inspirational. I want people to see my art and smile, I want my art to evoke hope, to inspire faith in themselves and in humanity. My art may not change the entire world, but if it can start a spark in one person I’ll be very happy.”
—Everett Reynolds

A work in progress mural at the University of Belize, 2019.

Early Life in Belize

Everett was born on the 27th of January 1995 in Belize, Central America to a family of five. His mother, Adelita Rhaburn, single-handedly raised her three children—Aaron Rhaburn, Everett Reynolds and the youngest, Evarette Rhaburn. His father, Elvis Reynolds at that time had recurring substance abuse issues which prevented him from taking an active role in his children’s lives.

Everett with his father, Elvis Reynolds. Due to substance abuse and addiction, Elvis missed out on Everett’s childhood. He is now a political figure in Belize and has been sober for over a decade.

Because of the way their mother raised them, always having each other’s back and going through the same struggles, their sibling bond became strong. Growing up together not having much, taught the siblings to be resourceful and to tap art inspiration from anything. Drawing was a way to entertain themselves and they fashioned toys out of whatever materials are available—slingshots, kites, tops, treehouses and cars among many other things.

Everett with his mother, Adelita Rhaburn, sister, Evarette Rhaburn and older brother,  Aaron Rhaburn.

Beginnings in the USA

Everett’s mother, Adelita, wanted a better life and a fresh start for her three children. To search for greener pastures and to explore greater opportunities for her family, she decided to move with her children to the United States of America and settled first in Zion, Illinois. Everett was twelve years old and when everything was set, he started studying at the local school district, Zion Benton Township Highschool. 

Left: Everett’s first-ever acrylic painting, 2010, 19 x 12 inches. Right: First graphite piece, 2010

Five years later, in 2014 as soon as Everett graduated from high school, the whole family relocated to the nearby city Waukegan. This city has seen Everett’s transformational years leading towards his decision to living an artful life. In all those years, art became an escape and a way to stay sane. Inspired by his brother, Aaron, who is the first artist in the family, Everett taught himself some serious painting techniques.

Everett with his older brother,  Aaron Rhaburn and mother, Adelita Rhaburn.

There is a common notion in developing countries that their youth must make a “great” name for themselves. Often, this leads to a university major or career path selected based on the expectations of their parents, relatives and society. Everett did not study contemporary art in college, instead, he went straight to the College of Lake County and then later transferred to Loyola University to take up Chemistry for pre-med. 

ZenARTist Everett Reynolds - contemporary art - portrait of his mother
Art inspiration from his mother. Everett painted a portrait of Adelita in 2017.

University was tough for Everett. Throughout college, on top of all his coursework and classes, he worked on the side to sustain his studies. His first job was at American Eagle as a sales associate and later at the Buffalo Wild Wings as a host and bartender. In 2015, Everett worked as a photographer for the iconic John Hancock Center, a 100-story 1,128-foot skyscraper located in Chicago.

ZenARTist Everett Reynolds - contemporary art - Renoir brush set
Everett painted his Bob Marley piece using ZenART Renoir Collection brushes. 

Through all the hustle and bustle of balancing studies and work, making art became his sanctuary as the stresses of his everyday life began to overwhelm him. Everett started creating art as a subconscious form of therapy—taking photographs and painting. Mindfulness through art inspirations and art-making helped reduce his symptoms of stress and contributed to his overall well being.

A painting exhibited at the Urban Edge Gallery in Waukegan, Illinois in 2018.

Life of Art

Since he was young, Everett convinced himself that art wasn’t the path he should take despite how good it made him feel. Art has been like a tag on a shirt for him. It’s there, he felt it tickling but he ignored the weight of its existence. And so after several years of setting aside art, after years of people appreciating his talent, Everett finally decided to shift his career and pursue art full time in 2019.

ZenARTist Everett Reynolds - contemporary art - Live painting
Everett painting live for a charity fundraising auction in Chicago.

Accompanying his decision to become a full-time contemporary artist, Everett moved to one of the largest cities in the US for better networking opportunities and to further develop his contemporary art practice. Chicago proved to be the best decision as he gained more like-minded friends and supporters. He earned a following and received projects and commissions even through the pandemic. 

ZenARTist Everett Reynolds - contemporary art - Zira mural
“Find your light and spread it on to the world.”—Everett Reynolds
Zira. (2020) A mural in Waukegan. In African culture, the art inspiration Zira is a girl’s name which means moonlight and messenger.
ZenARTist Everett Reynolds - contemporary art - Dream Big mural
Art inspiration: Ray Bradbury’s. Dream Big Mural. (2018) Exterior enamel paint on wall, 20 ft x 35 ft, Waukegan, Illinois.

His notable projects to date include a massive 25 x 35 ft mural at the Miguel Juarez Middle School gymnasium in Waukegan, as well as a hugely publicized project to design and paint an inspirational mural along with the veterans at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Chicago. Everett also painted a 20 x 35 ft Ray Bradbury inspired mural called Dream Big Mural in Waukegan and a mural at the University of Belize that depicts the African and Mayan heritage of Belize.

Jungle Girl (2020) A mural named by a homeless guy who watched while Everett worked on this piece in Chicago.

“I’m still not sure what my visual style is exactly. But if I was to sum it up, I love to capture the likeness of something and evoke emotions from that likeness with colour and depth.” —Everett Reynolds

Everett became a full-time tattoo artist along with his decision to be a full-time contemporary artist and to move to Chicago.

Everett hopes to travel around the world someday while creating art and collaborating with local art communities. And as for a long term goal, he aims to open a few creative studios in Chicago that would be equipped to support art communities to do multiple creative projects from photography, painting to tattoo art.

Toddler Elodie playing with Everett’s painting.

Everett lives in Chicago and when he’s not working in his studio, he spends time with his two lovely daughters—Elodie and Mariah. Mariah, his stepdaughter is sweet and a patient big sister. Elodie, his biological daughter has a bold personality and has been Everett’s art studio assistant. Though no longer together, Everett maintains a healthy co-parenting relationship with his girls’ mom, Tasha, striving to raise both girls to be confident, independent and loving humans.

ZenARTist Everett Reynolds - contemporary art - with daughters Elodie and Mariah
Everett with daughters Elodie and Mariah.

Selected Pieces from Everett’s Body of Work

Living a life that required him to be resourceful and inventive enabled Everett to tell stories through creating beautiful contemporary art with whichever media is available at his disposal. His body of work is a visual representation of the stories of people of colour. Let’s take a look at some recent pieces from Everett Reynolds’s body of work.

ZenARTist Everett Reynolds - contemporary art - Haitian Fairy
Haitian Fairy. (2017) Oil on canvas. 20 x 24 inches
Bob Marley. (2018). Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches painted using ZenART Supplies Renoir Collection.
Woke. (2019) Oil on wood panel. 30 x 30 inches painted using ZenART Supplies Renoir Collection brushes for oil.
Sierra Leone. (2018) Oil on canvas. 20 x 24 inches
Untitled (2019) Oil on canvas, 20 x 24 inches

Untitled (2019)Ballpoint pen on paper sketch

Inspired by this article? Read about our founder Ardak Kassenova’s story.

Say hello to our ZenARTist for February 2021, Everett Reynolds! Do you have questions for Everett? Have you tried painting people of colour as your subject? Share your thoughts, your paintings in the comments section below and let’s start a conversation!


Fabrianne is the Ambassador of Art Buzz at ZenART, resident eccentric pocket-sized art curator, editor, and art world liaison. She builds and develops relationships with the arts community and makes sure that ZenART’s inspirational articles get to you “hot off the press.” She co-founded an online contemporary art gallery, worked with over 100 artists on exhibitions and performances, wears only black clothes and when she’s not creating buzz or curating and saturating in art, still daydreams of becoming a quirky Wes Anderson film character.