feature: meet jay walton, chicago-based illustrator using his art to empower, excite, and influence

July 21, 2016
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In times such as these, it is important for our artists to also be our activists. For Chicago-based artist Jay Walton, activism comes in the form of cultural empowerment and influence. Illustrating primarily black pop culture references, his nostalgic imagery elicits a feel-good reminiscence and a sense of pride. As he transfers his drawings onto clothing (shoes & hats), customers are then able to exclusively carry their community and childhood with them on the street. With characters ranging from Prince and MJ to the Boondocks and Proud Family, black pop culture is placed on a pedestal and empowers all who wears.

Using his work politically, he issues multiple pieces of recognition and remembrance regarding Black Lives Matter and the more personal gun violence happening right there in Chicago: his latest piece “Fallin Soldiers Drawing” illustrates fallen Chi-town rappers to send a “Message To Chicago To Put The Guns Down.”

A powerful and expressive outlet, Walton uses his platform to make his community aware and proud.

By Cree B. McClellan, AFROPUNK contributor