- Who makes art? Who is art made for? These two questions spark ongoing discussions in creative communities around the world.
- Now, imagine growing up with the belief that the only way to “make it” out of your neighborhood was to be a rapper, or have a wicked jump shot. For 26-year-old Marcus Beedy, these were his two options, until he picked up a paintbrush in 2013.
- Raised in a small town in Louisiana Beedy describes as, “A place you wouldn’t know unless you’re in the military,” he was exposed to art at an early age. “My father taught me how to draw, although he stopped painting after I was born to focus on work. He could look at something and start drawing freehand, whereas I rely on creating grids,” continued Beedy in his southern drawl.
- On a quest to expand his horizons and live in a bigger city, Beedy moved to Arkansas in 2013. “I had family living in Little Rock, and left to attend barber school. I wanted and needed a change,” says Beedy.
- Shortly after his move, Beedy recalls stumbling across John Born’s Instagram feed, which inspired him to start painting. “Born’s persona reminded me of myself. He was painting on Timberlands and on Roll’s Royce’s. Seeing someone who was successful as an artist, and looked like me let me know it was possible,” says Beedy.
- In 2014, Beedy began sharing his artwork on Twitter as a form of expression. Then, after three years of consistently tweeting his work, several pieces went viral, and “Hood Picasso” was born.
- In advance of Beedy’s first group art exhibition in Arkansas, we discussed his journey into painting, and why he believes in inspiring others.
- JB: What were your earliest experiences with the arts?
- HP: My father was my main inspiration in regards to drawing and painting. Apart from this, the only formal art training I received was in 11th grade for one semester. I’ve never attended university or
Before I started painting, I tried to have a music career, but it’s hard, and everybody is trying to be a rapper.
JB: Were there any artists who inspired you? And, do you remember a specific moment that pushed you to take your art more seriously?
- HP: Yes. I was scrolling through Instagram one day, and saw my friend pictured with an artist named John Born. I clicked on Born’s profile and saw he was making artwork similar to my style. I wasn’t painting at the time, but I was inspired. I related to Born, and saw myself in his work. Later, I checked out Born’s store and saw his artwork selling for between $1,000-$5,000. At that point I was thought, “I could be doing this, I’m missing out.”
I also was inspired by Marcus Prime’s work. Most of Prime’s work is done in markers, but I was drawn to the positive messages of blackness and gender equality.
- JB: How would you describe your style?
- HP: I would describe my style as “ghetto esoteric.” I like things that look somewhat “ghetto-ish,” but that I can make look classy. I often reference nostalgic images from my childhood, which people can relate to.This could be something from a movie, or a still from a classy music video from back in the day. Think the Poetic Justice scene when 2Pac (Lucky) and Janet Jackson (Justice) share a kiss.
- JB:You’re known as “Hood Picasso.” How’d you get the nickname?
- HP: Twitter blessed me with this! A few months back, I posted a series of paintings entitled: “Gangster Dinner,” “It's Lit,” and “Shoot your Shot.” The tweets went viral, and when people were quoting the posts, they started referring to me as “Hood Picasso.” Back in Louisiana, we sometimes reference “neighborhood” or “hood” before our names. So, I thought it was catchy, and decided to run with it.
- JB: You’re participating in your first group art show on November 9. What does this mean to you?
- HP: It feels as if I'm starting to finally make a name for myself. Before I was making art, my last job was at Hardee’s. It feels good to be exhibiting my work alongside people with formal art qualifications and other self-taught artists.
- JB: What’s next for “Hood Picasso”
- HP: There aren’t many young and black artists who do what I doin this space I want to continue inspiring kids to paint who might not believe it’s for them. A lot of high school kids contact me on social media and tell me I’ve inspired them to take art more seriously. I want young kids coming up like me to know there are other ways to make it than basketball and rapping. There is art,too.
- Marcus Beedy aka Hood Picasso can be found at: