Imagine your favorite hip-hop star spray painted on a warm colored brick wall canvas. Now put yourself in Stockholm, Sweden, a far place from the native home of hip-hop, which is now the world’s leading genre.
What do you see?
Imagine Kendrick Lamar’s bust being spray painted on a wall in a colorful range of colors by John Beijer.
Beijer’s pieces take fan art to a completely different level. His background in graffiti is a bonus and helps him visualize his art on a brick wall canvas. Kulture Hub caught up with the Swedish artist to see exactly where he draws his inspiration from.
His love for hip-hop is present in his work. Beijer inherited his ear for music from his father who used to listen to reggae and hip-hop around the house. At the age of 13, Beijer took an audio oath and delved right into the rap world and never looked back.
“When I was a kid my father listened to a lot of good music, mostly reggae but a lot of hip-hop and other types of good music. I always liked it but started to really get into it at maybe 13 years old.”
From 13, that was the only music Beijer listened to, with a sprinkle of R&B. While painting, you can catch Beijer bumping Gucci Mane, SZA, Quentin Miller, Future, or Cousin Stizz. His top five is valid as well – Andre 3000, Biggie, Jay-Z, Pimp C, Ludacris – and for his sixth man Kendrick Lamar.
But it’s not only his love for the music that has influenced his art, it’s also the artists’ characteristics that play a huge role on who he paints.
“First, I love the music. I don’t listen to anything else. But the paintings are more based on characteristics. I would not paint someone that I think does super good music but looks like anyone else and vice versa.”
RiRi definitely approves
So, what’s up with the colors? His tropical palette is an escape from the cold weather and dull colors of Sweden.
“The colors are inspired by the tropics. So it’s more like an escape from the cold weather we have here during wintertime.”
“I love bright and popping colors. Like you know in warm countries it’s almost always different bright colors on every house, I love that! In Sweden its like, all houses are the same red color with white details. The colors go very well with the characters I paint as well! I just like colorful things and always did.”
Quavo the Huncho
For any young graffiti artist, making a transition from the streets can be very hard.
Painting graffiti from the age of 15 it wasn’t until Beijer hit 22 that he realized it was time to take his talents to the bank. He turned towards an education picking up a graphic design class perfecting his already incredible skills.
Beijer spoke about making his hobby a profession,
“It was when I was about 22, I painted graffiti since I was 15 and kind of realized that I had spent most of my free time getting good at something that is illegal and that I can’t make any money. Then I did a graphic design course and after that, I started making more graphics and art, after that, I’ve just kept going.”
Since then, things have been looking up for Beijer.
His work has made it into galleries, Swedish newspapers, album covers, a billboard in LA, a sick mural in Bahia, Brazil, the 2017 Billboard Awards, and the hands of Lil Yachty.
His feature in the Swedish press…
John’s awesome tribute to Nate Dogg in LA…
The mural that started it all in Brazil…
His phenomenal work for the Billboard Awards…
And that moment he got to meet Lil Yachty.
Don’t get it twisted. Graffiti still plays a huge part in the pieces that Beijer creates as it served as the greatest artistic guide he could’ve ever asked for. It was his tenacious obsession with perfection that allowed him to accomplish his dreams.
“All the influence comes from graffiti. I never was any good artistically as a kid, I just drew letters over and over until it looked ok. I mean it wasn’t anything I was born with so I got everything from doing graffiti. About the graffiti lifestyle, I think it’s cool and I still live that.”
Hip-hop culture is truly everywhere.
Make sure to peep his shop online too!