Masters of Remix: The Visual Sample in Street Art
Hebru Brantley joins a formidable line of artist’s producing art toys including Kaws, Futura, Jeff Koons and Yoshimoto Nara to name a few. Like Kaws’ Companion or Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Brantley’s marquee character is a child called Flyboy. In an interview with online magazine, Michigan Avenue, Brantley quotes his inspiration as, “Flyboy came out of characters of color within popular culture… I looked at the Tuskegee Airmen, who were fighter pilots in World War II. They flew successful missions and they never lost a person. But at that time black folks were treated far less than equal. For me, it was important to have that historical context to a character, not to just have one for the sake of needing one or wanting one.
Signature: Stamped underfoot "Hebru Brantley"
Soze Gallery Collection
Expressing his active imagination and fantasies, Hebru Brantley’s comic book-style compositions address his own experiences of African American and urban life in America. Having grown up tagging trains, walls, and other city surfaces as part of the 1990s graffiti scene, Brantley now creates mixed-media paintings and sculptures that aptly reflect the street’s energy and aesthetic. He credits the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat with sparking his realization that street art was viable and valuable. Speaking of his youth, he says: “We’d scratch-bomb on trains, tag freight cars…do throw-ups across the city. It was all about getting your name up wherever you could.” Defining himself as an Afro-futurist, Brantley draws from a range of influences—including Keith Haring, African American history, hip-hop, anime, and manga.
American, b. 1981, Chicago, Illinois, based in Chicago, Illinois