Last month, we presented Whitewaller Chicago in celebration of EXPO CHICAGO, and it gave us a chance to spotlight several artists and insiders. As a follow-up, we checked in with a few still on our radar, like Hebru Brantley.
Chicago-based, with a focus on narrative-driven work, Brantley is a contemporary artist that has exhibited all over the world, coveted by collectors like the Pritzker family, Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and Jay-Z and Beyoncé. His signature style, often featuring a young character masked as a super hero, has extended to a handful of collaborations and product launches, seen on tee-shirts, hoodies, hats, stickers, pins, and figurines.
Whitewall caught up with the artist to hear more about his practice, what’s in his home, and what other Chicago-based artists he supports.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your creative practice, which addresses complex ideas with a hero or protagonist. Why is this idea important to you?
HEBRU BRANTLEY: I like to tell stories. The work is very personal for me and everything begins with the protagonist. For me it is important to have something or someone real that people can connect with.
WW: You’ve collaborated with a number of brands—like Nike, Hublot, Hennessy, Bape, and the Chicago Cubs. Tell us a bit about your most recent collaboration.
HB: The most recent collaboration was with BAPE and Medicom. I had the opportunity to create a capsule collection with BAPE. We also released a Flyboy x BAPE Medicom Be@rbrick. These are both brands that I am a fan of and have purchased from for years. I definitely appreciated the opportunity to work with both brands.
HB: We saw via Instagram that you’re friends with Carlos Rolón—one of our Whitewaller Chicago Insiders. Are there any other Chicago-based artists you support?
HB: Max Sansing. He is a good friend and is incredibly talented.
WW: Tell us a bit about what’s in your home. Do you collect art?
HB: I definitely like to collect art. My walls are pretty much filled. For the longest time I didn’t have any of my own work in my home. Finally, my wife convinced me to include a painting and a sculpture. Everything else is work by people that I respect and admire.
WW: What are you working on now?
HB: All kinds of great stuff. You’ll have to stay tuned.