Arts & Entertainment

Bonus: Becoming Futura


Lesson time 06:33 min

Explore Lenny’s path to becoming Futura and get a deeper understanding of the street art movement.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] - My name is Leonard. Grew up as Lenny, Futura, Futura 2000, all of them work. But I will answer to "yo" no problem. I grew up as an only child in Manhattan, with a Black mother and a white father. Interesting time to be a kid in the world. Growing up in the '60s, leaders of the era were being killed. And it was a wild time. We were at war in Vietnam. So there were body counts on television every night. '69, man on the moon. 1970, my mom came to me with a story-- baby, we're not your biological family. OK, so I was already trying to figure out who I am in this biracial story. And I had a few other biracial friends, but none my way. I had the Black mother and the white father. I had plenty of white mothers and Black fathers, but I never had found anyone that was like me. And when I finally did, I looked, and I was like, well, I don't look like you. My mother was crying. I said, Mom, please. You know, it's like-- it's not like I came at age 4. I have a photograph of me in a-- in a sink as a 3-, 4-month-old baby, being washed. You know, I know I was with these guys from the beginning. Given all that, I realized, I got an identity crisis. [FAINT EERIE MUSIC] Myself and my good friend Mark, he and I started writing graffiti, '70, '71, '72. We were real toys. You know, toy is the lowest level of that whole food chain. But we were aspiring and we were curious. And so much as it wasn't about the graffiti per se, although for me it kind of was, in my identity quest, but it was also like the exploration of the system that was suddenly available to all these kids. Like, because, at the time, in '70, '71, '72, '73, '74, the '70s, there was no security measures. There was nothing. There were no cameras-- no such thing as a video camera. OK, can you imagine? So access to all these places were simply based on your own, you know, like how much nerve do you have? If you think about it, how much ownership does a 16-, 20-year-old really have in life at that time? And I think, for us, we realized, in the strength of our numbers and how we did kind of take over the subway system-- i.e. painting on the trains, trespassing within the system, gaining access to the yards-- we felt entitled to the system, if you will, and-- and the taking over of it. Having keys to access exits. Riding on the outside of a subway car. You know, everything that was sort of crazy and very dangerous, actually, you just accept it as part of the lifestyle, I guess, if you're going to go down, underground, like that and mess around down there. [DISTANT ROAR AND SCREECH OF SUBWAY TRAINS] In 1973, Mark was badly burned. While we were painting, over the course of a few hours, there was a fire. The tracks of the subway tunnel are alive. Because it's inactive on the weekend, but there's still live tracks running through. Aerosol cloud, defective paint, spark, we-- we really don't know. But there was a like...

About the Instructor

A pioneering painter and street artist, Futura has exhibited at institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Supreme, and created album art for The Clash. Now he’s teaching you his signature, kinetic approach to abstract art. Learn how to express yourself and paint with color, dimension, and detail. All you need to create art is an idea and a can of spray paint.

Featured Masterclass Instructor


Pioneering abstract graffiti artist, Futura teaches you how to create art with a can of spray paint and an idea.

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