Interview: Legendary Graffiti Artist Futura on Hennessy Vs.

Hennessy took over the city earlier this week by hosting exclusive events in support of their Hennessy Vs. campaign. The campaign features a bottle designed by world renown graffiti artist Futura and several parties to promote the bottles and of course the product inside it. Due to the marketing and PR efforts of Denyce Smith and Naomi Ramsey I got the chance to party at Space 57 with fashionistas and movers and shakers –  separate post on that. But first, earlier in the day I got the privilege of sitting down one-on-one with the artist at a private luncheon (really passed hors d’ ourves) at high-end sneaker boutique Concepts (37 Brattle St, Harvard Square).

After tasting the expertly created Hennessy cocktails and scrumptious treats by East Meets West (the mushroom dumpling – what?) Futura and I found a corner to chat about art; I’m assuming one of his favorite subjects, being one of the first graffiti artists to be shown in art galleries and to be paid for his work. He is truly a living legend and pioneer, and an inspiration for making what you love to do work for you.

BostonFab: When do you think that graffit art became a respected art form, or has it?

Futura: I’m fortunate enough to have been there from the beginning. And at the time I didn’t really think about it, but now you know, 30 years later I have a different point of view. I don’t think there was like a definite point of transition, or it wasn’t a decision, but more following the trends of the wave. I think that nowadays young people just have more of an opportunity to express themselves legally. Back then for us we didn’t have a lot of ways to express ourselves and graffiti was more of a way of earning respect, from our crew mostly. We were in the business of self-promotion and didn’t know it. I mean I’ve never been ambitious, but I’ve taken the opportunities that it has provided me with the ability to connect and express myself.

BostonFab: How did you become involved with the Hennessy Vs. campaign?

Futura: This was the 2nd time that they had done the campaign and they approached me about making some changes. And at first I was kind of apprehensive because I was like well – what do you want me to do? – because I mean it’s a label and I’m used to – you know – I could fill up this whole room , so for the bottle I was like eh’ ok – so instead of just doing the bottle, I offered to help promote the brand by doing promotional events, signings and touring.

Futura poses with OM Lounge’s Edgard Arty (right) and son Kamal (Dustin) Arty

BostonFab: What was the inspiration you had behind the design?

Futura: I got inspiration for the colors from the color of the cognac with the different reds that you can see highlighted, but I’m really more excited about the packaging and the poster board, and artwork surrounding the bottle. And, I mean, being able to have your artwork on 200,000 bottles is pretty cool. I get excited about putting my signature on the bottles because in essence that’s my logo; that’s my brand and another way that I get to interact with the bottle.

Futura and Tiffany of The Fab Empire

BostonFab: Graffiti artists Os Gêmeos recently did a piece here in Dewey Square that has caused a lot of controversy. Have you been able to see it? What is your opinion about it?

Futura: No, I haven’t been able to see the piece while I’ve been here, but Os Gêmeos – the twins as I call them – and I are familiar. We actually met in Australia and we’ve worked together before.  Actually we talked like a couple days ago, and  I recommended them to do the Hennessy campaign next year. But, I mean, they’re known for doing art that’s controversial where people are asking you know “What is this really depicting?”. I respect the critics of my own work, although not a lot of my work has really been criticized really, but I like the challenge of it. It probably won’t change me, but I respect it. So, I respect their [Os Gêmeos] perspective because it’s very different from my own, as they came from a 3rd world country. But artists aren’t to be censored. The law of the streets is that once it’s painted over it’s gone. There is no immortality in this art, and that is its evolution.

To interact with Futura, follow him on Instagram (Futuradosmil). For more info on the Hennessy Vs. campaign and how you can get your hands on the limited edition bottle click here!

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