artnet Asks: Graffiti Writer Turned Illustrator Todd James
His work includes fantasy oil paintings of women warriors.
Self-taught New York graffiti writer Todd James (a.k.a. REAS) gained initial fame in his youth, tagging on local streets and in the New York subway system. As he came into adulthood, James translated his artistic talent, making a successful transition into popular culture, creating album covers for musicians, including Eminem and Kid Rock, and doing illustrations for TV networks The Source and Cartoon Network. Alongside his broader cultural popularity, he has had success in the gallery setting, exhibiting line drawings (most often depicting everyday activities, such as reading or talking on the phone) internationally, including at Par Gallery in Tokyo and at the Venice Biennale. James lives and works in New York City. artnet News chatted with the street artist about his beginnings and current projects.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Since I was very young, around five. My parents were artists, so I grew up in a environment that encouraged creativity.
What inspires you?
Comics, cartoons, classic painting, and drawings of all kinds—drawing and the news.
What are you working on at the moment?
These sort of fantasy oil paintings of women warriors, and also fighter jet paintings, as well as paintings of women sitting around books in apartments with cats.
When not making art, what do you like to do?
I’m an escapist, art is my escape from everyday life, but, as a hobby, I like video games and reading. I might even take up Dungeons and Dragons.
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