Hebru Brantley: From Graffiti Tagger To Skilled Mural Artist

CHICAGO (CBS) — Artist Hebru Brantley began his career as a graffiti tagger, always looking over his shoulder for the police.

“I’ve had my run-ins from time to time when I was younger,” Brantley said.

But as WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports in this week’s Made in Chicago, Brantley is now an established artist. He is painting legally, doing a series of commissioned wall murals around the city.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

We caught up with him spraypainting the Metra viaduct at Pratt Boulevard and Ravenswood Avenue in Rogers Park.

“It’s great — to be able to do the contrast between the two. In the studio, it’s still, it’s quiet, it’s only my energy around. Out here, the cars driving by,” Brantley said. “This neighborhood’s actually really awesome because we’ve had so many people drive by, compliment me on the mural. We had a guy brought us lunch. You get a real sense of community over here.”

Hebru Brantley Mural

The mural by Hebru Brantley under the Metra viaduct at Ravenswood Avenue and Pratt Boulevard. (Credit: Regine Schlesinger/WBBM Newrsadio/CBS)

So what is Brantley’s inspiration?

“It’s about respiration,” Brantley said. “It’s just city life, being able to kind of breathe and just be free. A lot of what I do has a real youthful feel to it.”

But Metra viaducts mean colonies of pigeons. Have they been a problem?

“Just around lunch time — they kind of scope us out,” he said. “Other than that, they’re pretty cool, they’re pretty chill.”

More about Brantley can be found at his Web site, HebruBrantley.com.

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