Artist Everett Reynolds took a hard turn – he chose an art career over performing autopsies

Everett Reynolds aspires to be a forensic pathologist – a doctor who studies the causes of death. While in college, he was a chemistry major and majored in that major.

But he has since strayed as far from that path as possible: he has become an artist creating large, colorful and dynamic murals in Chicago and the suburbs.

Reynolds, who will turn 29 in January, can appreciate the irony of such a dramatic life change.

Mural at Pullman by Everett Reynolds in 2022.

“It certainly started with me creating a life and becoming a father and all that, so it’s really cool,” he says.

Born in Belize in Central America, he moved to the Chicago area at 12 and grew up in Lake County, including Waukegan and Zion.

Art was really a late-in-life endeavor, he says.

“I was a medical student and art wasn’t necessarily my main goal. I’m not going to lie,” says Reynolds.

A mural done last summer by Everett Reynolds as part of a larger art event on Racine Avenue near 16th Street.

A mural done last summer by Everett Reynolds as part of a larger art event on Racine Avenue near 16th Street.

But then “a lot of things” started happening in 2015, including his partner getting pregnant.

“I was becoming a father. I was still in school. I had to figure out what I really wanted to do.

Now living on the north side of Chicago, Reynolds says, “I feel like everybody has that opinion; it’s like a whirlwind. And from there you really choose a destination and life really changes.”

As things seemed a little “out of control” he began to paint.

Mural done by Everett Reynolds last spring in Zion.

Mural done by Everett Reynolds last spring in Zion.

“When I first started, it was just an outlet for me to express my feelings, something to control, something to keep me calm.”

But it became much more, says Reynolds. “I thought, this is amazing, I love it.”

“At first I painted on canvas,” he says. “Then in 2017 I had an idea to paint a mural, but I didn’t get around to it until about a year and a half after that.”

This first public mural, titled “Dream Big,” was done in Waukegan and featured a boy and girl astronaut reading The Martian Chronicles by Waukegan native Ray Bradbury.

Everett Reynolds' first public mural done in Waukegan in 2018.

Everett Reynolds’ first public mural done in Waukegan in 2018.

“The theme goes hand in hand with the title,” says Reynolds. “This was a mural created to represent and reflect the Waukegan community to inspire people to follow their dream regardless of the challenges and lack of access to resources they may have.”

Art is no longer just an outlet for Reynolds, who says it’s about “me communicating” and “creating relationships” and “a legacy for me and my family.”

“The reason I still do it is because I still have that drive; it just won’t go away. I like to study. There’s always a challenge to figure out.”

New mural in Waukegan by Everett Reynolds.

New mural in Waukegan by Everett Reynolds.

Reynolds recently created a mural in Waukegan depicting a girl surrounded by flowers on the side of a market, and another viaduct mural on the edge of Pilsen depicting a young woman being lifted into the air by balloons.

Reynolds says painting isn’t the only art he’s passionate about.

“Murals are about 50% of what I do. I get tattooed, too,” says Reynolds, with his Creative Studio Zenith, 3834 W. Berteau Ave., doubling as a tattoo parlor and fine arts space, which he co-owns with his brother, Aaron Raburn.

A characteristic aspect of many of his murals is that they feature images of ordinary people, often people of color.

“I really wanted to draw ordinary people to be relatable,” he says. “I want people to look at my artwork and be able to relate to it and see themselves.”

Click on the map below for a selection of murals in the Chicago area

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