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Ten toes down with the Black rock star of contemporary art, John Born

You can call John Born a painter but after seeing his resume of talents most would reconsider and dub him a rock star. The talented contemporary artist has plenty of creative abilities and to put the LA-based visionary under one abstract umbrella would be wrong.

Coming up, Born’s interest in art would be sparked by an annual fair that he used to attend with his mom. At this fair, kid Born would paint on his first medium and attract his first crowd of buyers.

Truth be told, those moments of young glory with his mom at the fair would inspire Born to keep on creating. Tutelage from his older brother, his involvement in gifted youth programs, and surrounding himself with like-minded creatives helped too.

Also, motivated by the pressures of adolescence to be cool with girls, Born would expand his repertoire and start designing custom clothes for himself and his homies. Soon enough, someone put a value on the pieces he was designing, teaching Born that he can make a career out of his passion.

“If I just kept painting, I could get lunch money, I could get whatever, and take some burden off of my mom. That’s how I got into this initially… That yearn for needing to make my own money and support myself.”

Today, you might see Born’s aesthetic, in an IG post with Offset holding a restored pair of handpainted LV Supreme Adidas originals, on the sixth floor of the NYSE in a recent installment called Art & Money, in Floyd Mayweather’s crib, or on the body of a beautiful woman.

He’s come a long way from his hometown in Harrisburg, PA. Born explained to me,

“All I had to do was stick to my roots and do what I’ve been doing… This is my calling. I’m not supposed to work for somebody, and I won’t.”

Born and I met in NYC while he was doing press with King Saladeen for his “Bullishness” collection featured in the Art & Money exhibit.

We ended up catching a couple of cyphers, eating a vegan lunch, and chillin’ at the World Trade Gallery while he painted Homer Simpson’s head in the shape of a goat’s adjacent to the iconic “Big Pink Donut.”

We managed to stay in touch after he left NYC. While he was painting (spray paint can shaking and all) a mural for a smoke shop out in Cali, we had a discussion over the phone about being a multi-faceted creative rockstar, the people in his life that are very important to him, and keeping ten toes down in the art industry.

The Born brand goes hard in the paint… literally. Painting on clothes allowed him to recognize what self-branding really is from early on. It’s important to have a unique trademark and support your dream using your own ideas because ONLY YOU can brand yourself the way that you want. No one is going to do it for you.

Born reflected on self-branding saying,

“It turned into me just wanting to facilitate my own wardrobe and create my own shit, as opposed to going and spending $5,000 at Gucci when I can really spend the same amount of bread and make my own stuff… There was no way that I was going to keep supporting these brand that don’t really fuck with me, what I support, what I represent, or  where I come from. They can care less as long as they’re getting their bread from somewhere. I don’t really need to support them. I’d rather support my own shit. This is the John Born brand and that’s what I’m gon’ do.”

Although Born is a masterful lowkey clothing designer, one of his favorite mediums to flex his artistic talents on is that of a woman’s body. In a way, the pieces he paints on the female body humanizes the art.

He enjoys the communication, but most importantly he loves making women feel beautiful. Born touched on how special it is to make women feel like a piece of art (as they should always feel). He said,

“You can paint a canvas, but the canvas can’t verbally say, ‘Oh my God! I was blank before and now I’m this beautiful piece of art.’ I like painting women for that very purpose.”

Born takes the definition of creativity to another level. Let’s jump into his artistic talents on canvas. His collection “Bullishness” for the NYSE, that the OG Peter Tuchman commissioned from the artist, goes as described — six different bulls abstractly painted in an array of calming colors and arranged in the shape of a bull on the sixth floor of the NYSE.

Next to King Saladeen’s “Bull of the Market” piece and down the hall from Mister E’s “Hamilton” installation, “Bullishness” served as the perfect collection needed to make the Art & Money exhibit thrive.

Born spoke on being one of the first Black contemporary artists to have their works featured in the NYSE. He said,

“Just to come from where I come from and learn about the NYSE, be a part of it, experience it first hand and make it there, I’m in awe still… It was definitely amazing because I’m a fan of Mister E and King Saladeen. So, to be alongside them is just an honor. I’m sure any artist would want to create in the same room as them or witness them create. It makes me feel like a lot of the hard work I put in was paying off and I was able to live to see it. That’s the scary thing about being an artist…”

Adding to his interpretation of the bull market on canvas at the NYSE is his rendition of the GOAT silhouette. Born also paints those who have influenced him throughout his career in the shape of goat’s head.

He surgically infuses the face of people and characters from pop culture who have served as a source of encouragement to him throughout his career with a paintbrush. Within the characters of the GOAT collection, you’ll probably find a painting of the Kanye Bear sculpted in a new fashion or a piece of Prince slapped onto a psychedelic background.

Born spoke about his signature GOAT character. He said,

“A lot of my supporters often called me the GOAT which led me to believe that they believe that I’m one of the greatest of all time at what I do. Whether it be music, fashion, or art, I hear it a lot. I like to pay respect to people who i think are the greatest like Prince…”

Inspiration from GOATs, like the late “Love Symbol,” is not the only source of Born’s success. He has his mom to thank for his interest in the arts and his beautiful daughter who motivates him to keep on creating.

He’ll never be able to repay his mother for the days she went above and beyond; he will raise his daughter, Infinite, to be just as great, raising her in the same fashion.

To Born, having a supportive family is very important and without his own, he wouldn’t be the man who is today. He spoke on the special bond he has with his mother and daughter. Born said,

“Family is very important. Without my mom and certain people in my life, I wouldn’t be who I am today. My daughter is my creation and I love her like nothing else… I can never repay my mom for what she’s done and my daughter I have to raise to be just as great because that’s how my mom raised me to be.”

I’m so proud of my little lady. Infinite really stole the show, check her out in a @bentleytrike at: @modelmafia this past weekend showing off.. “Daddy loves you” .. & To all my supporters and models that came out for me; let me apologize for what happened, it was completely out of my control. I had all my models dressed and painted & they shut the show down & kicked everyone out before we could give you all the experience due to the time restraints. I’m not going to blame it on the 30+ minute long raffles & unplanned performances amongst other things that delayed the “finale”. Just know it will never happen again, that’s my word. Let me give a big thank you to my brother @jaredlamar for slaving nonstop and stopping his entire life to get my garments done on time solely for this show. Also a big thanks to my bro @paintedprophet for showing up in the clutch with the custom additions needed to complete my looks. It took me hours of fighting in the airport to make it here from New York. An ongoing struggle and inconvenience but with the help of my team we made it happen. I am very sad I wasn’t able to give you all the experience you deserved, yet I’m very happy my baby girl had fun and got to do her first show. So stay tuned and I promise I will make it up to you all. I’ll have my next show announcement up soon & I want to see you all there so please leave a comment. Let’s all keep in touch & stay in the loop.. Much love & positivity to all – #johnborn • • • • • #new #bentley #Bentleytrike #Infinite #baby #model #streetart #photooftheday #luxury #nyse #fineart #aura #artist #artwork #babygirl #minnie #modelmafia #models #babymodel

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In front of Born is the whole entire world. He’s proved that he can paint with, for, and because of the GOATs. The visionary is truly flying at a different altitude than the rest of us.

To get where he is today, he had to believe in himself, create his own brand, and continue to work hard, even when the pressure was on. For all of you who are looking to step into your own creative lanes, Born left you with some advice to help you keep trying the “impossible.” He advised,

“If you want it, work every single day. If you don’t work every single day, no matter if you are sick, no matter what you are going thru, you won’t make it. Do it every day or don’t even act like you want it because no one will believe in you.”

So, do yourself a favor and flex in your craft every day just like John Born because with this kind of mentality you can do whatever you set your mind to.