Behind The Scenes: Renee Antoinette Shows Us How to Bring Out 2Pac’s Peaceful Side in Art

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If 2Pac’s legacy has taught us anything, it’s that talent lives on after death.

He may have left us 21 years ago, but still his spirit shines bright in the culture we create to remember him, from t-shirts, to posthumous album releases.

When I look at this artwork by Renee Antoinette, I’m reminded of a 2Pac who achieved peace through death, where real life had rendered him a ticking time bomb.


Unlike some of the other works in our recent 2Pac – Changes exhibition, Renee’s piece captures a quiet, tender side to the rapper, scarcely seen in the popular media of his day.

Here’s what she had to say about it:

2Pac brought a lot of faith and spirituality to this world, and your piece really seemed to capture that. How do you want people to feel when they look at it?

I was hoping my audience would feel a mixture of emotions and question my intentions. I was aiming for a feeling of placidity, knowing that his legacy still lives on.

His music is something that people hold on to and, in a way, many try to live by his words and idolise his image. I also wanted my audience to be humoured by the thought of  ‘Pac looking down at the world and thinking: “Sh*t.. y’all ain’t changed since my death”.

Talk us through the artistic approach involved?

I was mindful of what the other artists were showcasing for the exhibition and wanted my work to be different. I didn’t want to show 2Pac’s thug side, with his iconic bandana, but rather an intimate side to him – I wanted to strip away his thug persona.

I found a B&W image of 2Pac I was satisfied with online, and put it through Corel Painter. I outlined his figure and added guidelines for the highlighted areas of his face and body, then I studied his skin complexion from various colour images.

I later used Christian iconography paintings as a reference for my background and the halo. After the completion of the image, I exported the file to Photoshop to clean up any loose bits.

Which other artists/illustrators/creatives did you take inspiration from in the creation of it?

I took inspiration from Christian iconography paintings, which is something that I like to explore through my art.

What’s your favourite aspect of the piece?

I’d say the clouds and the halo because these elements make up the image and show the message I was trying to convey: the visualisation of 2Pac’s ascension in leaving the world and fulfilling his soul purpose as a rapper.

Who was the most important connection you made at the exhibition and why?

Olivia Odiwe! She goes by the artist name iLLESTRATION on Instagram. I used to follow her work before I made an artist page on Instagram and I admired her talent. We spoke briefly and both complimented each other on our pieces. It was nice to finally meet her and see her work in the flesh.

Like what you see? A4 and A5 prints of Renee’s 2Pac piece will soon be available for purchase on the Highlight Nation website. Details to follow soon. While you’re waiting, follow her on Instagram

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