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For Philly Artist Justin Richburg, This is Just the Start of His Creative Journey

“This stuff is like the Wild Wild West. I can give advice but it’s really not going to help. The only advice is making sure your business is in order. Ain’t nobody gonna have their stuff in order when they’re first starting out. So just start!”

Seasoned yet humble. Lowkey, yet eccentric. Winning yet forever hungry. These are the many traits of Justin Richburg, the ever-so controversial and distinguishably artistic illustrator hailing from “Norf Philly.”


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A post shared by Justin (@justin_richburg) on Jun 28, 2018 at 5:24pm PDT

Despite Richburg not being a household name in the art world (yet), his catalog is gradually becoming as expansive and decorated Jay-Z’s 21 album discography.

With works varying from his witty and effectual dice-game featuring the likes of the Obamas, Charlamagne Tha God, Black Panther, Will Smith and more, to illustrating Trey Song’s “Pantydropper” video, to partnering with Donald Glover to provide the illustrations for his “Feels Like Summer” music video, Richburg is no stranger to creating art that’s to be seen by the masses.

Most recently, Richburg partnered with creative goods company Elite Genre to launch a six-piece art and clothing collection celebrating both Jay-Z’s accomplishments and 50th birthday.

Yet to the world, who is Justin Richburg? With Richburg and his most recent homage to Jay-Z appearing in this year’s Miami Art Basel, it’s only fair to learn more about the artist.


Luckily for us at Kulture Hub, we had the chance to sit down, talk with Justin Richburg, and learn more about why and how he committed himself to his artistry.

“We only got one life. I don’t want to be one of those older people who are full of regrets. I was working in a nursing home for a little bit and I started befriending a lot of people, listening to them talk; a lot of them regret a lot of things. It encouraged me to go on the artist path.”

Having experienced what a life full of regret can look like for some, Richburg opted to express himself vicariously through his art.

It could be his love for basketball, his sometimes controversial yet visceral analysis of domesticity in the modern Black household, or reflecting on the things and people that influence his work.


No matter what, Richburg knows that one of the keys to his success is being conceptual and making people think critically about (Black) life.

For example, the infamous dice game illustration (his personal favorite) serves as a testament to Richburg’s keen understanding of creating detailed and conceptual work.

As the old German proverb goes “Der liebe Gott steckt im detail.”- “God is in the details.” If you factor out any religious reading of this phrase and apply it to Richburg and his work, his meticulous attention to detail in his work becomes even more apparent.


From the Friday DVD cover in the dice game to featuring the Obamas, Malcolm X, MLK, Oprah, and company the attention becomes more noticeable. The arrangements of legendary basketball jerseys are just one example.

How Michael Jordan’s red and black Chicago Bulls’ jersey on the rack overshadows Kobe’s jersey and the Black Mamba’s jersey hangs on to Jordan’s is just a subtle touch of Richburg’s artistic genius.

Not to mention, LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers jersey laying on the floor underneath Kobe’s jersey further illustrates the vivid world that exists in Richburg’s head.

For most consumers, art is simply art, but for Richburg, it’s more than that. Art is his own expression of the world he experiences.


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A post shared by Justin (@justin_richburg) on Oct 4, 2019 at 3:56pm PDT

Understanding the artist/patron dynamic is nothing new to Richburg. Despite Richburg fully committing to his artistic prowess, monetizing his passion and talents hasn’t been the easiest for him.

Is he a starving artist? Some might say. Far from it but Richburg knows the (at times) brutal nature of the art world. Even with having done work for Donald Glover, the Sacramento Kings, and Google to name a few, Richburg feels like he’s only just begun his journey and remains transparent about life as a commission-based artist.

“A lot of people don’t understand… I’ve worked with a lot of people and people assume that I’m really rich and things like that. It’s the opposite. It’s not like that at all. Doing stuff like I do is like working at a temp job.”


For so many this would have been an immediate and unbearable challenge but the hunger and determination that are indicative of North Philadelphia flow through Richburg and his work.

With the release of his most recent collaborative project Elite Genre, Richburg offers insight into his ideation process and why he’s able to make a name for himself in the art industry.

“I’m very straightforward. All the information must be given to me so I can know exactly what I’m doing. The more information that I know the quicker I can get stuff done for people. I’m very detailed oriented.”

There’s a reason why Richburg’s work pops up in places like the “Teddy Perkins” episode of Atlanta, season two. As an artist, Richburg’s main goal is to challenge himself to be fearless.

He sees no challenge too trivial or too impossible. This explains 25 percent of the reason why Richburg’s work can be seen on the Sacramento Kings’ Twitter (easily the team with the best social media in the NBA).

Richburg knows that his own artistic ability is not the challenge he needs to approach fearlessly but rather overcoming the other 75 percent that makes up for his biggest challenge(s) as an artist. Putting himself out there for the world to see.

The most important part is the networking. Networking is way more important than your art, to be honest. You can be invited to a whole art show and be treated like shit because people just don’t know.

“In my opinion, networking is 75 percent and the artwork is 25 percent.”

Even with his work being featured throughout various social media platforms, Richburg knows that networking or better yet the lack-there-of can be an artist’s biggest demise. In an industry as cutthroat as the art industry, it almost makes sense why some artists give people the cold shoulder.


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A post shared by Justin (@justin_richburg) on Jun 3, 2019 at 2:27pm PDT

“I can see why a lot of people when they do break through they treat other people like shit because people treated them like shit on their way up. They make it like a rite of passage like everyone has to go through that…”

Richburg continued:

“But no! It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to treat everybody else like shit just because people treated you like shit.”

Sometimes the truth hurts. We all know that. Still, few of us are willing to openly say why the truth hurts. That’s what makes Justin Richburg and his art even more meaningful and relevant entering 2020.

He and his work bring attention to the conversations that we’re sometimes too afraid to have in person or as a society. Take for instance his illustration of Jay-Z and Colin Kaepernick discussing the importance of being “more than an athlete.


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A post shared by Justin (@justin_richburg) on Nov 29, 2019 at 4:28pm PST

For sure a weighted and somewhat controversial conversation for some but a conversation that we need to continue in 2020. This is why North Philadelphia’s Justin Richburg is a name to not only know but support in order to better understand where we’ve come from and where we’re headed as a society.

As the great Jay-Z once said,

“They say a midget standing on the giant’s shoulder can see much. Further than the giant. So I got the WHOLE [rap] world on my shoulder they tryin’ to see further than I am.”


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A post shared by Justin (@justin_richburg) on Dec 4, 2019 at 3:02pm PST