The Artistic Evolution of Graffiti Artist Futura: A Trailblazer in Art & Fashion
Leonard McGurr is better known as Futura 2000, or more recently just Futura. The name was inspired by the Futura typeface and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, both things we highly approve of. He is one of the most influential graffiti artists of all time, and for very good reason. Known for his gorgeous bold and abstract lettering, which has been featured in galleries and museums around the world, influenced hip hop culture and made its way into fashion. Futura's work has been featured in campaigns for brands such as Supreme, Nike, BMW and Comme des Garçons. He’s redefined the boundaries of contemporary art, transcending traditional mediums and captivating audiences worldwide. Let’s explore how his innovative approach has had a profound impact on art and fashion.
Futura emerged as a prominent figure in the New York City graffiti scene during the 70s. Known for his distinctive abstract graffiti style, he quickly gained recognition for his ability to combine elements of fine art and meld it with the rebellious spirit of street culture.
It’s not just graffiti either, Futura has also worked as a graphic designer and illustrator. Designing album artwork for Mo’ Wax, a British record label who released albums by artists such as UNKLE, Tommy Guerrero, DJ Shadow, Blackalicious & more. He even went as far as heading on tour with The Clash, creating artwork behind them as they played. His love for music doesn’t even stop there, in ‘82 Futura released his own 12” rap single, co-written by Mick Jones and featuring The Clash as his band, he even performed the song live with them in Paris.
The back of the record had parts of an artwork by Futura. They could be joined up with some other records to reveal the full artwork. The other records were: ‘Grand Mixer D.St. & The Infinity Rappers’ The Grand Mixer Cuts It Up, ‘Fab 5 Freddy’s’ Une Salle Histoire, ‘Phase II’s’ The Roxy, and ‘Tribe 2’s’ What I Like.
Futura’s influence on fashion can’t be overstated either. His signature aesthetic has found its way onto apparel, footwear, and accessories, transforming fashion into a canvas for his distinctive art.
Recognizing the potential to merge art and style, he’s collaborated with iconic fashion brands, including Human Made, Levi, UNIQLO, and Cinelli among others. Recently Virgil Abloh‘s estate also decided to release The Nike Dunk Low “Virgil Abloh™ x Futura Laboratories” through a special Sotheby’s auction. The original estimated price was between $2,000 – $4,000 , the highest winning bid went to a size 10 pair in the orange colorway, sold at $107,950 — around 50 times higher than the estimated price.
His collaborations have blurred the lines between art and fashion, inspiring a generation of designers and artists to push creative boundaries, and having a massive impact on streetwear and urban culture.
By infusing his artwork into clothing, he propelled graffiti and street art into the mainstream. His collaborations with fashion brands not only introduced his style to a broader audience but also gave rise to a new wave of streetwear, characterised by bold graphics, vibrant colours, and a fusion of art and fashion.
Futura’s influence continues to resonate in contemporary street culture, shaping trends and inspiring a global community of creatives.
Futura’s innovative approach to art and fashion has left an indelible mark on both industries. His unique fusion of graffiti, fine art, and fashion has redefined creative boundaries, inspiring countless artists and designers to think outside the box. His impact on art and fashion continues to resonate globally, ensuring that his legacy as a groundbreaking artist will endure for generations to come.