100 Colorado Creatives: Ratha Sok, 2Kool
#99: Ratha Sok
The 2Kool crew: Bimmer Torres, Alexandra Soto, Ratha Sok and Katrina Nguyen.
Ratha Sok just couldn't stop tagging. Growing up in the projects of Westwood, he found his young voice in a spray can. Graffiti was the only art he knew. And eventually, he got caught. Ratha spent two months in Juvie, and that's where things started, slowly, to turn around.
"I told myself I was going to quit," says Ratha quietly, though it turned out to be easier said than done. "After that, my parents didn't want me anymore, so they throw you in a foster home and take you away from your family and your community.
"It changed my whole mind around. I didn't know what I'd do -- nobody believed me, and I was still doing graffiti in the night. I was always hungry. I would do my friend's names just for something to eat." Yet, through it all, Ratha thought there must be a way to hitch that street-wise entrepreneurial spirit (he says he even remembers dealing Hot Wheels cars in the third grade) to a dream. A kindly judge took note, and gave him a second chance to show that the graffiti he loved was artform and to create a positive outlet for himself and others, beginning with his return to classes at West High School.
A 2Kool mashup with Guerilla Gardener Jolt.
"I went back to high school and started a mural club. Five students joined right away, but a couple of weeks later they left because they thought it was a trap for taggers. I was still determined and motivated to make it happen, so I decided to create a sketch and mural and see where it went from there." With permission from his principal, who even provided him with materials, Ratha spent a Saturday creating a mural on his own. "The following Monday I went back to school, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. And it was not tagging. It was the school mascot and logo done with spray paint. The students who left came back, and then more came in; eventually, we produced five successful murals inside the school."