I never wanted to be an artist. The Basquiat’s and Andy Warhol’s didn’t strike me until later. The ones who really caught my attention were the NBA stars and rappers, I wanted to be like Dwyane Wade and Kanye West.
Growing up I didn’t have much. My three siblings and I were raised by our single mother in the city. In between her two jobs my aunt would take care of us. There were very few positive influences for me to look up to. Local basketball stars captured my attention but it was unlikely they’d make it through high-school without being dead or in jail. I was forced to explore other options.
In 10th grade I got a call from my dad inviting me to come live with him. As the conditions I lived in didn’t improve, my school did. I was placed in an art class by accident which turned out to be the best thing for me. The teachers discovered that I had a natural ability for art. I had award winning drawing and painting skills but my work didn’t speak to me as I wanted it to. In search for a new medium, I deconstructed my coveted French Blue Air Jordan 7s and explored the society I was immersed in.
Currently my work deals with the issues we face in the urban and hip-hop community. We often take our love for the culture and express it through material objects such as clothes, chains, watches, and most importantly; sneakers.
My work does not offer answers it instead turns heads and piques curiosity. It addresses materialism, consumerism, and problems with identity. I never wish to shed negative light on our culture. Rather rethink it and examine it. Place more weight on the soul than the soles.
- Justin Ruby