An Interview With Hebru Brantley


Written by Robert Foster
16 Wednesday 16th April 2014

Last Thursday, Mead Carney opened Hebru Brantley's international debut exhibition for . He's been making quite a stir over in the US and has some reasonably big name fans of his art work. He hit the headlines after Art Basel Miami when Jay Z purchased a piece of his work and requested the artist personally deliver the piece at the end of the day, and Recently collaborated with producer Swizz Beatz on a piece of work. This new body of work showing at MC is entitled 'Everyone's Everything'.

Because graffiti, rap and art are more or less our 'MO' here at DP, we had a word with Hebru while he was in town. Enjoy:

You started out doing graffiti, who were your favourite writers?

When I started doing graffiti I looked at guys like Dondi White, Totem, Dame, a lot of different european writers and a lot of very well known new york graffiti crews, even guys like fat five freddy, fat joe KRS1 who were fundamental founding fathers of hip hop that merged the gap between being a hip hop artist and a writer. 

What made you want to cross over into 'fine art'?

With graffiti i felt at a point where I'd hit the ceiling and it got boring to me and I wanted to continually express my artistic creativity and wasn't necessarily content with just the stylings and sort of the trappings as graffiti as it existed, I felt like you could only go and grow so far in that art form and in that style so I think it was just a natural progression. I was always more of a character based artist anyway, so, you know just furthering my style and picking up other techniques and studying contemporary as well as classical painting and wanting to adapt some of that into my repertoire and art work. So thats sort of what bought me over from graffiti into fine art. 
When did you begin to think about art?
Ive been an artist my whole life, so there has never been a moment I haven't thought about art. From early sketched in school and pre school and those colouring book days. Its been who I am, my make up since I was very very young. 
How would you describe your work? Is 'afro futurist' still applicable?
I don't know if afro-futruist is still applicable, I think that term sort of confides me in what I do and I don't want to get trapped with in that, because when you look at certain self proclaimed afro futurists their stylings when it comes to visual arts have been a bit limited and i don't want to be confined within a title, I reached for that earlier on, and I do still feel that way, but I don't think that is ALL that I am or ALL that the work is.

Jay Z has obviously been a pretty reasonable boost to your profile recently! Does music play an important role in your creative process?
Music does play an important role in the creative process. I think that is fundamental with all creatives and all genres, it can inspire and effect  the outcome of what is being created and worked on. It absolutely coexists, it symbiotic. As far as my relationship goes with creative and painting. 

Don't Panic attempt to credit photographers and content owners wherever possible, however due to the sheer size and nature of the internet this is sometimes impractical or impossible. If you see any images on our site which you believe belong to yourself or another and we have incorrectly used it please let us know at and we will respond asap.