Lenny McGurr (also known as Futura) is a graffiti artist, illustrator, photographer, sculptor, fashion and graphic designer. He transitioned from a New York-based graffiti artist in the early 70s to exhibiting at galleries in the 80s alongside artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf.
McGurr’s major contribution to graffiti art was his use of abstraction, adopting a style of painting characterized by its blending of text and imagery.
This highly influential and multi-faceted creative has, to date, remained unique, fresh, and evolving, and his characteristic style has paved the way for a whole new generation of high-profile urban artists.
RARE © caught up with Lenny just after the launch of his Uniqlo project to talk about his past, current and some of his perspectives.
You don’t really need much of an introduction, but for our viewers not familiar with your work, give us a rundown of who you are and what you do.
Futura: What do I do? it sounds crazy, but I guess you can say, I’ve made a career out of being myself. that usually works for comedians and clowns but unexpected when you started out: writing your name on walls.
Which moment would you say was your breakthrough – at what point did you know that “this is it, this is what I’ll be doing”?
Futura: Probably 1980, the year the movement surfaced… when we were all looking beyond the subway system as a delivery vehicle (no pun intended) and elevating to alternative spaces and pop up galleries.
“Who knew a scribble I did on a napkin; would become so popular. I have mixed feelings”
How would you describe your personal style? Who are the key figures in your life?
Futura: The art of fighting, without fighting . . . no wait, that was BRUCE LEE.
What were some of your favourite movies & what kind of music were you listening to at the time?
Futura: 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY and THX1138 then BLADE RUNNER.
R&B . . . HIP HOP . . . science fiction and the total fantasy.
Trains, walls, canvasses, clothing, sneakers, skateboards, figures are just a few of the mediums you’ve used to communicate. Is there one that you feel more connected to?
Futura: Clothing, take the recent UNIQLO project and especially the kids clothing!
Tell us a bit about PROJECT DRAGON & BSF in the 90s era
Futura: That was the beginning of computing and graphic design; amazing times with STASH and GERB and later BLUE with PROJECT DRAGON.
Which collab is the most satisfying?
Futura: NIKE PARIS DUNKS
How do you handle the fine line between art and commerce?
Futura: Always a difficult question, it’s better to simply proceed with integrity.
The POINTMAN is a prominent aspect of Futura – what does this figure mean to you?
Futura: Who knew a scribble I did on a napkin; would become so popular. I have mixed feelings.
Most remarkable memory in 1997
Futura: 1997 was an amazing year the year . . . I first got online with my original domain; and the year I met NIGOSAN.
Name the best tool you like to work with
Futura: Even with all the technology I still like a pencil and paper.
What role does the internet play for you – on a professional level and a private one?
Futura: I’d like to think I have more than a footprint . . . I also have a constant presence.
Pick four of your favorite projects – which ones would it be.
Futura: – FOR LOVE OR MONEY w/NIKE. – FUCK SSUR w/SSUR. MASTER PISTA w/COLNAGO and FUTURALABORATORIES w/A BATHING APE.
Name your favourite country or city?
Upcoming projects after the Uniqlo collaboration?
Futura: I’m very superstitious therefore I don’t want to jeopardize anything that’s underway.
Favourite pastime activities?
Futura: I spent most of my downtime on my bicycles.
Advice for young designers?
Futura: Pay your taxes.
How do you define Rare
Futura: Something one never sees.