“If I’m killing the canvas, just imagine what I would do on a wall,” says Skyler Grey. The Los Angeles artist has earned himself a reputation as “The Fresh Prince of Street Art,” with rappers Snoop Dogg and The Game as clients and works that have been displayed internationally. Grey was named one of Forbes’ 2017 30 Under 30: Art & Style last January and last week, he painted a mural in Miami’s Wynwood Art District. Did we mention he’s only 17?
“A friend of mine owns a building [in Wynwood] and the time came about where he was looking for someone to do something special in the form of a mural,” explains Dmitry Prut, founder of Miami’s Avant Gallery, where Grey’s works are on display. “Sky’s by far one of our best-selling artists. We have a waiting list for commissions.”
Grey began painting when he was eight years old, six years after his mother passed away unexpectedly. “My dad started to take me to art museums and art galleries and I saw the work of Kehinde Wiley,” he says. “That’s what attracted me to painting.”
Incorporating mixed media, spray paint, house paint and acrylic paint, Grey’s pieces juxtapose fashion brands such as Chanel and Hermès with pop-culture staples like Popeye the Sailor and Mickey Mouse. Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Basquiat and Picasso are clear inspirations, as is Will Smith. Grey titled his first solo show “The Fresh Prince of Street Art” after popular Nineties sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The name has stuck ever since.
Prut and Grey met through Mashonda Tifrere, ex-wife of Swizz Beatz. The two immediately hit it off and Grey decided to exclusively show his work at Prut’s 10-year-old Avant Gallery.
“The art game could be a dirty game,” explains Grey. “It all depends on where you play and who you play with. Once, I was playing the gallery game in L.A. I was in a gallery and this guy showed a piece of artwork and didn’t tell me. I’ve had bad blood with art galleries after that. I wasn’t in a gallery for a year. After I got introduced to Avant, I decided to give it a chance. Dmitry was good people, everybody that’s in the gallery are good people. They buy into me more than they will buy into the art and that’s what really makes me happy.”
The young artist previously painted a mural at The Four Seasons in Dubai, as well as one outside Cipriani Abu Dhabi. At 30-by-20 feet, the Wynwood painting is Grey’s largest commission to date. He was originally meant to paint the week of Sept. 4, but was forced to reschedule when Hurricane Irma struck. Over the course of two days last week, Grey completed the work, depicting Karl Lagerfeld as Popeye and Coco Chanel as Olive.
“I love a challenge,” Grey said in August. “If my art is hot when it’s on the canvas, imagine how it would be three times, five times bigger on a wall. Each mural I’ve done, I’ve killed it, so that’s what I’mma do.”
The mural is located in the heart of Wynwood at 255 Northwest 25th Street.
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