Although Will Prince does not wish to be known as an artist who solely draws rappers, hip hop is where his art lives. The London based artist creates bold and imperfect illustrations that have been liked by the likes of Rick Ross, Kid Cudi and Chance The Rapper. Prince has been illustrating in this style for years, showcasing his work online way back in the MySpace era; since then he’s taken his work beyond social media, hosting exhibitions and being commissioned by artists for his work.
A hip hop artist in his own right, see what Prince had to say about his work below:
What is your background? When did you first take an interest in illustration?
I have always drawn, art has always been my passion so I can’t put an exact time on when I took an interest. It has always been an interest – more than an interest, it is the most confident way I know to express myself.
How would you describe your own aesthetic?
Obviously there is a big Hip Hop influence behind my work. My art is bold, vibrant, raw & imperfect. The pop art, Warhol era is a big influence on me as well as cartoons, movies, comics & graffiti.
How has the digital world and social media influenced your work?
It has had a major impact on me and my work, I would not have been able connect with the people who have helped progress and push my work further. My art would not have been able to reach people like it has. I started off before the big social media platforms we have now, posting on Youtube and Myspace so I think being early and one of the first at what I have been doing has been a huge blessing too.
You’ve done a number of portraits of rappers and pop icons. What attracts you to Hip Hop as a subject?
I am probably more passionate about Hip Hop than art. It wasn’t always that way, when I was young I was into drawing my favourite cartoons and movie characters, rappers became my new heroes as I started getting into it more and more. It was never intentional It just happened naturally.
Is there a particular artwork that really stands out to you amongst your whole body of work?
My favourite pieces would be my portraits of Erykah Badu, Sade and Andre 3000. My work can be hit or miss, the mentioned pieces are a direct hit when it comes to accomplishing my style and what I set out for.
As an illustrator how important is challenging cultural norms to you and your work?
I think it is always important to break down cultural norms in the art world. Exhibiting my work across America in the past has really opened my eyes. I am always open minded and willing to learn & I hope this shows. I never want to stay stagnant in life and with my work.
What reactions have you had to your work online? Do you find Instagram to be a valid gallery space?
Overall positive, obviously when you having a growing following hate is going to crop up but for the main part I would say it has been positive. Social media is a funny place and I think it can be good and bad. For example I could get a long thought out compliment from someone who really cares about art and then get a quick hateful unthought out response from someone who doesn’t care for art. Its hard to judge what to actually take in as feedback but I try not to overthink it all and keep on creating my art.
Talk to us about the recent artwork you just done for American singer and actor Rotimi, How did you get connected with Rotimi? What was that working relationship like?
My good friend Nial (@niallgfx) who is a brilliant graphic designer was already on board to do the art and an illustrator was needed. He reached out to me and we collaborated on it. We have collaborated on quite a few pieces of work in the past so it was quite easy to create together again.
Where do you hope your illustration will take you? Do you have an interest in pursuing other art forms?
I hope to keep growing with my work, I idolise the careers of people like Hebru Brantley and Alec Monopoly. I would like to have my work in galleries and collaborate with brands. In regards to other art forms I still feel like I have a lot to learn, I want to develop my painting style more and start creating merchandise for my own brand. I would like Will Prince Art to be known for more than just illustrations of rappers. Although, that will always be a big part of me lol!
What would be your dream collaboration?
A big brand like Nike or Adidas, and I think it would be only right to eventually work with a major rap artist on a project, I’m not sure what it could be but I like how Rick Ross has been collaborating with Mr Brainwash recently. Something new and creative!
Follow him on Instagram @willprinceart