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Graffiti legend Futura takes designs in new direction

Tiffany Probasco | 10/24/2012, 10:22 a.m.
Partygoers check out Futura’s work, specially created for his stop in Boston. (John Brewer photos) ...
Partygoers check out Futura’s work, specially created for his stop in Boston. John Brewer

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Partygoers check out Futura’s work, specially created for his stop in Boston.

photo

Partygoers check out Futura’s work, specially created for his stop in Boston.

Graffiti artist Futura is considered one of the pioneers of street art, displaying his works as early as age 15. Thirty years later, his art has expanded from subway car walls to art galleries and now a limited edition Hennessy bottle.

Though not a big drinker himself, Futura said he took on the project to connect with people, much like he does with street art. At sneaker boutique Concepts in Harvard Square last Monday, one stop on the Hennessy VS campaign, he spoke about the global access that young people have today that wasn’t available to him when he was their age.

“Being able to share things globally accelerates the understanding of what is going on around us,” he said. “The web enables self-production. Like that kid Santlov on Instagram who takes pictures of old toys and sneakers … For us, it was backpacks and walls. We were in the business of self-promotion back then, but we didn’t know it. All I wanted was recognition from my crew.”

So how did he move from spray-painting subway walls to designing bottle labels?

“I’ve never been ambitious — I’ve just taken opportunities that were ambitious,” he said.

Futura helped to promote the brand at three local events, making his final stop at the Revere Hotel’s newly-constructed Space 57. His artwork was made a focal point around the massive DJ booth while respected hip hop producer/DJ Clark Kent kept the old school vibes coming on the turntables.

While graffiti and hip hop are often linked, Futura said the relationship between the two is misunderstood.

“A lot of people say that the movement came directly from hip hop, and I disagree with that,” he said. “The need to paint in the streets isn’t limited to one musical genre. People were spray painting their skateboards while listening to punk music. Back then we didn’t have a lot of ways to express ourselves. Graffiti was more of a way of earning respect.”