Behind the Scenes: How to Make a Good Creative Package For An Art Expo with HAM the Illustrator

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HAM the Illustrator, in case you’re not aware, is one of 15 artists who contributed to our 2Pac – Changes art exhibition last Saturday. For those that attended, HAM was both the dude on the decks and the creator of several prints adorning the white gallery space of Matthew’s Yard. Without him, there might have been no DJ set, but what he gave us was a full creative package of live music, rap and illustrations.

Just because we love his prints so much, we thought it only right that we share the story of how they were created.

You really pulled it out of the bag on Saturday, with your prints, live music and DJ set. Which, for you, was the most important element of your routine?

In short, positive energy. I knew that no matter what I brought to the table for the exhibition, it would go well, so long as everything revolved around me genuinely enjoying the experience and ensuring everyone around me felt the same way.

Each limited digital print seems to capture a different facet of 2pac’s personality. What role does colour play in that process?

I was trying to create pop art in my own style, so colour had a huge role to play. To create those pieces, I used an old rendering technique I’d first adopted when I was still studying Architecture at Uni to create my Famous Faces collection.

What made these different from those, however, was the playful and bold use of colour. The backgrounds in each piece are all primary colours and, thereafter, I just decided to get creative and experiment in terms of how I stylised his clothing.

With each piece, I would try a range of different colour schemes until I’d found one I was really fond of. With his skin, I decided not use a typical brown colour, but see if I could find something else that would give the pictures more life –  in the end, I settled on faded purple.

Fluid for sight

We understand the prints depict a journey in Pac’s life. What was that journey?

The prints were my interpretation of different rare photographs of 2Pac. I interpreted and styled each of these photos into four main eras: the yellow depicted 2Pac before he reached fame and was still hustling on the street; the red one shows 2Pac after he’d been signed to Death Row Records and began working with Suge Knight; the blue art piece is of 2Pac as an inmate in prison; and the final green art piece depicts either one of two things: A. After he had come out of prison and had tried to leave Death Row to begin his own film and music company. Or B.) Once he’d died and was famously shown dressed in white.

I’d encourage you to have a careful look at the piece and make that decision for yourself.

Which of your prints was the most well received on the day of the exhibition and why?

That’s a difficult one, but I would have to say the yellow one, for various reasons. Firstly, the colour: people seemed to really like that hue and think it would match their homes well. Secondly, composition – It’s a particularly cool pose of his that shows his playful, more positive side, and I think that really resonated with its viewers.


Who were the rappers/DJ’s/Performers you collaborated with on Saturday?

Honestly, I have no idea – that’s the beauty of it.

I’d invited a range of my crew to come and collaborate with me, but they didn’t manage to arrive on time, so, instead, what I did was invite my homie, Hermz_696, to come and do a B2B set with me. We then challenged the attending crowd to a cypher.

I’d previously met one of the photographers on the night, who’d told me he could rap, so, when the moment arose, I summoned him to the stage. Just at the moment, another man stepped into the gallery, who, as chance would have it, was a professional MC, and we all just went into the cypher.

HAM on decks

HAM’s 2Pac prints will very soon be available for purchase on the Highlight Nation site. In the mean time, peep our interview with him here.

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