Husky Brown Interview
Your work has been characterized as “activist.” What causes or ideas are important for you to convey in your work?
My cause stems from black history and my Jamaican parents who moved to England and became very strong equal rights activists in the ‘60s and ‘70s. When I was child in the early ‘80s, living in a very poor area of the Midlands with bad education systems and a playground of youths who became aggressive and frustrated with their surroundings was always a discussion at the family dinner table. The Handsworth riots, which took place on my doorstep and echoed throughout the UK, and comedy television shows such as the Young Ones and MTV Yo Raps became part of the soundtrack to a generation of hip-hop rebels.
Your breakout series was the Falling from Grace Collection in 2010. What doors did that open for you, and how did that series change the way you were able to market yourself?
People in the UK already knew my work, and my creativity when I was headhunted by Sony Music to work on many products. I’ve always believed in challenging one’s ability, and I wanted to show galleries that painting traditional styles with a spray can and be accomplished with true technical skill. You cannot stencil a Pre-Raphaelite spray painting, and that’s why the collection became a global success. Fans of street art in America pushed my work globally online and on the social media sites, in which the British public later started to take strong interest. I’ve had record labels, television shows, and modeling deal opportunities from this collection, which took me over 6 years to financially promote to the world.
You promote a lot of other artists on your blog. How important is it to have a network of artist colleagues, and what benefits does it offer you?
To be honest, I love arty things, and if it’s music or art then you talk my language. My blog is unique in that I’m selective of what I put on the portal. Artists like what I do because I’m totally honest and selective in regards to what I’m addressing to the public. When I travel around the world and meet great people from the art game and music industry or fashion shows, I’m always receiving a lot of mail and pictures. My blog is my personal online scrapbook for creative inspiration and my own retrospective of true street art and culture.
You seem very connected to hip-hop. How do the music and graphic art industries complement each other, and have you found a place where they can collaborate?
Growing up on Public Enemy, Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane, Tribe Called Quest, and Nas to name a few, my first love for music is Hip-Hop. I used to work in a record store back in the day. I’d spend all day looking at the artwork, and I knew this was my calling. Green Sleeve records, Blue Note record covers and inlays helped me with looking at typography and minimum spot colors to capture mood and character. Notorious. B.I.G’s Ready to Die album cover is another good example of how to use simplicity effectively. I have the full back catalogue including amazing artwork from Pedro Bell, and Gerald Scarfe’s work for Pink Floyd was just purely incredible. Some of today’s generation may not know Chuck D was a Graphic Designer before forming Public Enemy, whose iconic logo taught me about branding. Abdul Mati Klarwein’s artwork on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew album cover sits on my living room wall. I love working with rap artists and musicians when I’m commissioned to design graphics for clients. The freedom to express visually and sonically is the future trend of Husky Brown.
What have you learned from designing for retail that you could share with other artists (tips, cautions, encouragement)?
Don’t let anyone tell you what to do. Be an artist and make sure your marketing is totally on point. You have to have a team; it’s a 24-hour business. Personal relationships could end, and you have to take risks, but think before you go straight in. Understand your business well enough for the obstacles, and remember that your brand is your existence. Don’t be predicable.
You released an app a few months ago that allows fans to get updates on your work. What has been the response to this technology, and do you see it becoming a tool for promoting yourself to new audiences?
I’m always staying astride the latest technology, and having my own app reaches people instantly without them making too much effort. Without a doubt, it’s the way forward, especially when your name is on many platforms for art and you are consistently busy. My app keeps my fans and followers up to date instantly. A great example was on the day of Amy Winehouse’s death. I was rushed back to London for a tribute to her. Within 24 hours I received over 13,000 downloads and gave street art a minute on BBC News and the CNN News Channel that day. You have to be ready at all times, and art is no longer about a great painting, it’s about surviving for the future.
About Husky Brown:
Husky Brown is an accredited and revered Bohemian artist. His ability to use an aerosol spray can with skill and precision is incredible; it has changed the meaning of the word “graffiti” forever. “Husky is beyond our imagination and someone with eclectic magnitude. We are fortunate to witness an incredible and gifted artist,” said Art & Culture Magazine’s Sonya Devonte. A Midland resident and winner of the 2010 National Belton Signature Award, Bohemian painter and illustrator; he has been credited with transforming vandalism into something beautiful and has attracted major publicity with his “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” eccentric persona.
Visiting Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Husky developed a taste for the Pre-Raphaelite collections displayed there in all of their magnificent glory. Husky wanted his work to reflect the same irresistible flamboyancy of the eighteenth Century art; affecting the minds of passing tourists in a way that also represents his own journey. Husky understood the patience required of fine art and the English Pre-Raphaelites. Determined to continue his evolution as an artist, he felt he needed to mediate between these two extremes and point his spray cans towards artists John Everett Millais, Rossetti, Monet, and Turner’s work’s as he spent endless nights studying the Aesthetic movement.
In his effort to make a difference, Husky Brown has donated some of his previous collections to charity for the organization Invisible Children – a charity created in 2003 to campaign against children being used as weapons. Husky explained how stories of young girls abused and children captured and turned into child solders of war in Northern Uganda inspired him to do something constructive.
His contribution did not go unnoticed as his paintings were very influential and helped to raise over $1.2 million as part of the Schools for Schools innovative program. In addition to this Husky has also provided numerous Art workshops to children in suburban schools and libraries. His mission: to touch, inspire and affect a positive change upon the minds of young people.