North Richland Hills

Brush With Death Helped North Texas Artist Create a New Life

The artist who goes by the name Captain Casual used to make a living in finance until a brush with death revealed his happy place

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The North Richland Hills garage at Captain Casual's home is not for cars or bikes. It's for paint cans and canvases.

"I've got a ton of colors over here," Casual said smiling as he worked on a brightly colored piece. "I can't just choose one. I really like all the colors."

The paint-splattered studio is about as far from his former life as he could get. Casual used to work in the finance world as an options trader.

"I sat in front of a wall of computers all day," Casual said. "Just uptight and stressful."

On December 5, 2015 Casual fainted. In the ambulance his life changed.

"Not a near-death experience. A death experience... for 12-seconds I flatlined, a long beeeeeeep," Casual explained. "Dying and coming back to life was the best thing that's ever happened... I woke up as Captain Casual."

Captain Casual does not use his birth name. Casual has always been a nickname. "It was my favorite adjective," Casual said pointing to casual poses of him in photos as a young boy. "Come on, that's a pretty casual stance right there!"

Casual said when his heart started again, he felt a profound sense of gratitude. It changed his career, and his entire outlook on life.

"I'm a pretty smiley person," Casual said. His studio has smiley faces everywhere. There is a tattoo in the palm of his hand that reads, 'Be nice to people.'

"So many people are going through so many things," Casual said. "It's important to spread love."

Casual said working in finance taught him that money could not buy happiness; that happiness is not something to pursue. "Because it's the pursuit that's supposed to be the happy part," he said.

"Everybody can relate to that feeling of 'oh my God, Monday, noooo,' and that's how life is. Life is even shorter than the weekend, right? It goes by like that," Casual said snapping his fingers. "You can find happiness literally anywhere, and it's not necessarily about looking. It's about finding."

Captain Casual has worked with Nike, and done murals in places like Dallas' West Village shopping district. You can follow him on Instagram here.

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