The MC by Justin Bua: A Digital Art Collection Capturing the Spirit of Hip-Hop and the Future
In this article, Justin Bua talks about his latest project, “The MC,” which is his first digital art collection, and how it captures the essence of the past entering the future. He also shares his experience growing up in the Hip-Hop culture and how it influenced his artwork. The artist seeks to imbue choice and digital freedom to his collectors by giving them alternate and future-forward paintings to collect and the ability to interact with his community.
Who is Justin Bua?
Born and raised on the Upper West Side of New York City, I grew up as a latch-key kid and spent most of my time hanging out on the streets writing graffiti and breakdancing. Hip-Hop was started by a bunch of kids who had no idea about the concept of converting cultural value into market value. We found love and positivity through the arts, emerging out of an era of street gangs, violence, and statewide corruption. In our youth, we shared skill sets among each other. We merged our B-Boy moves, popping, and graffiti writing, shared our black books, and connected with overwhelming enthusiasm. The energy and intention were authentic, pure, full of love and passion. Unbeknownst to us, Hip-Hop would burgeon into a global trillion-dollar phenomenon and transform the entire world.
What is “The MC”?
That initial positive connectivity of Hip-Hop was the same energy that I found in the skating industry when I started doing art on Slick Bottom boards for New Deal skate decks back in the 90s. After that, I worked on a multitude of jobs in movies, TV, commercial art, designing, and illustrating—myriads upon myriads of projects, including merchandise and advertising campaigns as well as developing the look and feel of EA Sports video games NBA Street and NFL Street. Nevertheless, I never recaptured the magic that I found in Hip Hop and skating until… this project here—my first digital art collection—”The MC.”
This series was designed by working in my customary old-school way of painting on my crank easel and then scanning drawings and paintings into the digital realm. I took the final drawing of The MC and painted each hand and head in varied colors and values, thereby creating an endless amount of color ways. This series of 1,011 uniquely designed characters have over 35 unique hand-painted backgrounds and over one hundred and eighty-five layers in Photoshop to capture the essence of the past entering the future. From the block party to the blockchain, I wanted to communicate that Hip-Hop started with two turntables and a microphone, to minting in the Metaverse. I have never seen a more distinctive and valuable way to reach and speak to my collectors and vice versa. I am seeking to imbue choice and digital freedom to my people by giving them alternate and future-forward paintings to collect and the ability to interact with my community.