Arts & Entertainment

Meet Your Instructor: Futura


Lesson time 06:50 min

Pioneering painter and street artist Futura has been making groundbreaking art for more than 50 years. In his first lesson, Futura discusses his opus, the Break Train, and welcomes you to his abstract universe.

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Topics include: Futura Teaches Spray-Painting and Abstract Art


 [MUSIC SWELLING] [FILM REEL CLICKING] [SPRAY CAN SHAKING] FUTURA: I feel like I've lived many lives. Futura, Futura 2000, Futura Dos Mil, Lenny, Leonard. It's the age-old question. Who am I? The graffiti thing that was happening outside my door seemingly was an answer. Walking from station to station through the tunnels, rather than waiting for the train, was what we did, certainly in the winter. And all of that interior system activity was, for us, the height of our teenage years in a way, combined with this level of illegality. We knew we were trespassing. But by comparison, given all the crime and the real nonsense going on, we were saints. WOMAN 1: Is graffiti art, or is it vandalism? - I think it's creative vandalism. MAN 1: I despise graffiti. WOMAN 2: Just depresses me to look at it. MAN 2: Absolute fifth. MAN 3: We think that the art we do on trains has a tremendous amount of artistic validity. [MUSIC PLAYING] FUTURA: I'm part of a school of art and a culture that kind of invented itself. I think we were teaching each other how to do what we were doing and learning from each other. And, you know, some of the masters-- the Phase 2s, the Lees, the Dondis-- were imparting skills and styles down through the chain of command to all the rank and file other folks that are part of the school. It's, um, letter B. Things that were emerging in the '80s were beginning to open our eyes up beyond the subway. We had wild style. We had bubble letters. We had straight letters. We had blockbusters. But in a sense, there was no abstraction. To me, the abstraction always appeared inside the letters of all these kids' works. And what I was saying is, like, wow, what if you took the letter away? My first big attempt to express myself in this abstract way was to do what I called my opus, my great subway painting, in which I completely did abandon everything that I had been taught or had seen previously and tried to make something that I hadn't seen. It was about breaking tradition. I thought it was art. I thought I was making a painting. There's a crack-- like, a kind of a crevice on the right side of the center door that was intended to be the physical break, the fracture, right? So for me, it was breaking tradition. And now, in the physical sense of this wagon, the subway car, I'm breaking into it. You know, I had broken it apart. I will never forget the glow of the interior. It was being washed with light. It looked crazy. And it smelled. The car smelled. You know, it was still stinking from the paint. And it was such a cool feeling. I almost, like-- I-- you know, I was in there way longer than I should have been. But it was such a joy to be in my train. I must say, initially, the first few years, people didn't like it. They were slow to embrace it, because, well, what is it? Right, you don't know how to define it. What can it be? It can't be-- it...

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.

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

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