REENO Studios is a creative studio and clothing brand based out of South Florida that's run by one of the youngest and most creative upcoming minds in the world. We spoke with the founder Sam about his experience getting the merch collab with Billie Eilish that launched his career while still working at a Pizza restaurant to now having done portraits for Playboi Carti and running his own creative studio full-time while getting recognition from some of the biggest names in the creative world. In addition, we also spoke about some of his most iconic artistic concepts, his advice for other people looking to achieve their dreams, and his plans to continue expanding and evolving his work while manifesting his vision to make REENO Studios a full-time career.
Where are you from?
Sam: I’m from South Florida.
When did you start REENO Studios?
Sam: May, 2018.
How did you come up with the idea for the name?
Sam: Mazzarino is my last name so Mazza-RINO. But I didn’t want people to say it like “Rhino”, and I also wanted it to look very childlike, like a word a child would make up.
Was art a big part of your life growing up?
Did you originally start with clothing or were you doing drawings and portraits before that?
Sam: I’ve been making portraits since middle school since I went to an art middle school, and I’ve been drawing my entire life. I started putting my drawings on clothing in 9th grade and started selling it in 10th grade.
How did you start?
Sam: I printed my designs onto transfer paper, cut them out, and ironed them onto $1.50 gildan shirts from Michael’s. I would sell them for $15-$20. The designs were horrible. The “brand” was called “FACELESS”. You know those horrible, uncreative Instagram brands? That was me. I quickly realized it sucked and and stopped creating clothes for a while, but it felt wrong just doing nothing, so I started a new brand with a lot more care and effort put in from the very beginning: REENO Studios.
Would you consider REENO Studios a clothing brand?
What made you want to start designing clothes?
Sam: The kind of art I make was made for clothing. Most of it would look dumb on a canvas but right at home on a T-shirt. Also I wanted to make money so I wouldn’t have to work a “regular” job.
What inspired you to make the Billie Eilish portrait?
Sam: I was seeing more and more of her and she looked cool to me. I also wanted to grow my account and knew I could appeal to her large, loyal fan base.
How did you end up working with her to turn it into merch?
Sam: I sent the original drawing to hundreds of her fan pages asking them to repost it in return for a shoutout. 11 of them did. Billie saw it and I got a message from her manager saying that he and Billie loved it and wanted to put it on merch. And the rest was history.
What was it like getting that early recognition?
Sam: 100% confirmation of something I already hypothesized: I was born to make art and to work for myself. I was working at a Pizza restaurant at the time and this made me realize it wouldn’t be long until I could quit that job and work for myself.
You’ve also designed merch concepts for other artists recently such as Lucki. Are there any other artists you want to design merch for?
Sam: Nope. If I did want to, I would. The way I see it, if I have a good merch idea I’ll put it out there, and do everything I can to make it happen, and then if it happens it’s meant to be, if not, not.
What was your reaction when Carti asked for a portrait?
Sam: Surprised. I knew I would work with him at some point but I never thought it would happen that fast. It seriously showed me anything and everything is possible, and any time limit we think we need to reach our goals is self-imposed. Meaning, we think it’ll take us X amount of time to go from A to B, but really X is a non-constant variable that we set for ourselves. This is often limiting, so I’ve been sure to avoid that as best I can.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Sam: Fun, Immature, and Passionate.
Has it changed since you started?
Sam: Yes, drastically.
How did you come up with the “Shed merch” concept?
Sam: The whole “Shed” story has been one of my main motivating factors. For anyone who doesn’t know about this, there is a Vice documentary in which Oobah Butler puts the shed that he lives in on TripAdvisor, and ends up bullshitting his way to the #1 restaurant in London. (Remember: there never even was a restaurant). I can’t recommend this doc enough. So a few months after seeing that video, I found out that Oobah released a book called “How to Bullshit Your Way to Number One”. I excitedly read the book in just a few days and realized this guy was a genius, and every genius needs merchandise. I thought about it and I would love to have merchandise for a fake restaurant and knew other people, especially fans of Oobah, would also love that. So I made drawings of the fictional dishes described on the website, and kind of brought them to life. Like Oobah did with the Shed, I wanted to give off the illusion that this was real merch for a real restaurant, so I imitated those kinds of t-shirts with that design on the back. Fake phone number, the whole 9 yards. The phone number actually translates to: O-R-BULLSHIT (Oobah X Reeno Bullshit).
Where do you draw inspiration from in general?
Sam: Good movies, books, cartoons, and music. Really anything good. I realize I can only watch so many movies, read so many books, and listen to so much music in my life, so I try to consume only the best of the best.
Where did you get the idea to design the Andy Warhol AF1’s?
Sam: It started with the banana swoosh, which was just a random thought that popped into my head (like most of my ideas). And then I designed the rest of the shoe around it, researching Andy’s work and color palettes.
Did those ever get produced?
What’s your favorite shoes you’ve designed so far?
Sam: The Andy Warhol shoes.
Where did you get the idea to make the A$AP Yams portrait out of yams?
Sam: I take everything very literally. When I hear words I think of the literal definition, or a visual representation of the words. When I hear ASAP Yams, despite understanding the name and the context, I still think As Soon As Possible Yams. I had already made a portrait of Imran Potato out of potatoes, so this only seemed natural.
What does your creative process look like when coming up with an idea like that?
Sam: Not much, I just get the idea. I try not to think of ideas if I can avoid it.
You seem to be willing to use almost anything as an artistic medium. Are there any other mediums, garments or accessories you want to experiment with?
Sam: Metal. Be on the lookout for that.
What’s your favorite artistic concept you’ve created to date?
Sam: It’s a tie between Shoeberry Pie, a pie in the shape of an Air Force 1 shoe that I made, and a diagram I made titled “The Basics”, which is a diagram of all the most important aspects of life and how they connect.
How did the John Cena action figure collab with Slumpykev happen?
Sam: He posted a picture of some custom jean shorts and mentioned John Cena. I remembered I had a John Cena action figure I used to play with when I was a kid so I found it and got to work. I painted and posted it within a few hours of Slumpykev posting the original shorts so it looked preplanned.
What makes you want to work with another creative?
Sam: If there’s both:
1. Something they have that I wish to have.
2. Something I have that I believe would make what they have better.
Are there any other creatives, designers or brands you want to work with in the future?
Sam: Probably Kanye at some point. I’d be thrilled to work for Cudi too. Both those guys saved my life. There’s other ones too but the urge is low at the moment because I’m working so much to build my own thing. Filling my own cup so to speak, when it’s overflowing I’ll be much more open to collabing.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to achieve their dreams?
Sam: You can do it. Notice how everyone who has ever achieved their dreams has been a human being (not including other species). If you’re reading this you’re a human being too so they don’t have some kind of special advantage. And if you’re thinking “Yeah, but-“ you’ve already lost. Stop looking for reasons why you can’t and start looking for reasons why you can. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you do not have to know how you will do it, just set a rock solid intention that you will do it. Look into law of attraction. Follow @reenostus on Instagram and watch my stories and lives. I post a lot of motivation. I could go on forever but really it comes down to just doing whatever it takes because, really, what other option is there?
What should we expect to see next from REENO Studios?
Sam: Expansion and evolution. A lot of great art and great pieces. The usual but better every day.
What do you want REENO Studios to become?
Sam: A full-time career. In my mind it already is, but the universe is in the process of manifesting that.