Adam Lucas, which many of us know by his former alias, Hanksy has recently revealed his name and identity for the world to see. This natural transition of shifting away from the celebrated pop culture puns to a more serious body of fine artwork is a shock to many, but widely accepted among his friends and fans. After dedicating nearly two years to creating a new body of work, we knew we had to make the trip up to NYC for the opening of Lucas’s first solo show in Chinatown, NYC.
The Spratx crew has known Lucas for a few years, since working closely together on the Surplus Candyexhibition in Los Angeles. We’re big supporters of Lucas’ work and respect his devotion to continually create and push the limits of his artistic endeavors. When we caught wind of the recent, ‘Some Grow Up, Others Grow Down’ show in NYC, we grabbed a plane ticket and headed up to the city. Arriving the day before the doors opened to the public allowed us to see the behind the scenes set-up and all the hard work put into the show. Adam and a team of his close friends put days into the transformation of a broken down building turning it into a fine art pop-up gallery.
Since Adam first started sharing his work with the world under the alias of Hanksy, he knew that “eventually one day it would have to be put to rest.” That day has finally come and Adam’s new body of work speaks volumes. We’re elated about his evolution of artistic style and admire having the confidence it takes to follow a new path in his art career.”
‘Some Grow Up, Other’s Grow Down’ is “an accumulation of a lot of hard work and finding a niche. Figuring out where Adam can apply himself from his art perspective, and with what’s happening in the world with slight tie-ins from pop culture and a relationship of who he truly is deep down. It’s really a testament to the person he is as an artist and coming out in a really wonderful way. It asks us to understand the change and connection between Adam and Hanksy and the person he is.” – Sydney (NY)
Spratx: Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to the city.
Lucas: Name is Adam Lucas, born and raised in the Rust Belt, bounced around a bit and landed just north of Chicago and moved to the city about six years ago for a job. I was originally transferred here then got laid off after two weeks and that same week is when I put out my first piece of art.
Spratx: Share the reasoning behind coming forth with your identity and how putting “Hanksy” to rest coincides with the shift of your new style and body of work.
Lucas: I never really had a plan starting out as Hanksy. I was riding the wave and built upon its initial momentum that it received early on. I always knew as the years went on and I started taking it a little more seriously that I would eventually one day have to put to rest. There is the law of diminishing returns both personally and publicly.
I wasn’t growing tired of it and neither were my followers and fans but I just knew eventually even the sweetest cream turns sour. Not that the world doesn’t need humor or light-hearted imagery. I’m still a fan of it, but right now I want to use my position and my platform to push forward.
Moving forward I’m going to use the same techniques as I used as Hanksy, the same tactics that got me to where I am today. I’m going to apply the things I’ve learned along the way with a more elevated body of work. My plan is to create elaborate space takeovers as I simultaneously drop my moniker.
I think just as people get older or as you get a little more serious about your life… people tend to lose that wide-eyed enthusiasm and that childlike wonder. Then there are other people that still keep that in their heart and they never forget what got them excited to do their job or their role in the first place. (Personally, it’s just moving forward and progressing no matter what. Growing up doesn’t have to be a bad thing. – Adam Lucas
Spratx: What are some of the experiences that lead you to first start creating art?
Lucas: I grew up drawing and copying all the Looney Toons and any cartoons I watched on Saturday morning TV. Originally, I wanted to be a cartoonist for Disney and then they went all digital, so I scratched that idea. Art class in high school actually made me hate art and I abandoned drawing shortly after. I was always doing something creative like writing music but I wasn’t throwing creative shit against the wall for about 10 years until I moved to New York. I was taken back by all the visual stimulation and the endless opportunities the city has to offer and wanted to add to it.
Many of Adam’s popular satirical pop-culture references and images went viral. And although it first started as a joke, it’s been the catalyst of his success. The beloved and light-hearted Hanksy pieces that have been peppered throughout NYC and the US have shifted into a new artistic style which Lucas defines as “synthetic cubism,” deriving influence from many artists, mainly Stuart Davis.
Lucas’ manager and close friend shares that “Adam really cares about what he’s doing and he won’t stop until he gets to where he wants to be with his career. Even when he gets to that point he’ll want to go further with it. This show is his stake in the ground. Everything leading up to this was in a way just playing around. With all that’s going on in the world and the political climate, he’s decided to use his voice. That’s what this show is all about.” – Brandon Rosenblatt (Lucas’s Manager)
What’s clear is that Adam is not only a talented and dedicated visual artist, but he truly cares about the messages he sends out to the world through his art. We met a handful of Adam’s friends, fellow artists, and fans that have witnessed the two year transformation of Hanksy to Adam Lucas. Not a single one disappointed by the monumental metamorphosis. After spending almost two years assisting Adam in the creation and curation of the work seen here, his assistant and friend declares, “It’s really rare working with an artist who’s at that point when they’re trying to pivot their career. Adam’s evolved his ideation process and how he thinks creatively.” – Thomas Evans (Lucas’s Assistant)
This particular piece (left piece below) is representational of my time in Chinatown and since I first moved to New York. A lot of the work in this show is very personal to me; it comes from experiences I’ve had. You walk anywhere in the 10002 zip-code and you’re going to see gentlemen outside in the back of the restaurant having a smoke break. ‘Chinatown smoke break’ is a classic term and iconic to this neighborhood. For me, being in the restaurant industry this piece is built upon paying tribute to the people working hard in the kitchen; these strong individuals and their strong culture. Chinatown is rapidly changing and it’s good to pay tribute to the people that built this solid foundation. – Adam Lucas
The Word on the Street
“I’m used to Adam’s other styles and for him to so abruptly jump into this new abstract style of putting social commentary and have it not be tacky and cheesy but have maintained his own style is surprising. Jumping from what he used to do which is more of comedic illustrations to that which are more literal representations of what he’s giving. It’s just refreshing as hell to watch somebody jump out of what they’re used to and just kill it. It’s an entirely different style but make seem like he’s been doing it for ages. To have the confidence to do that is something in itself, which I think a lot of artists don’t have”. – Ian Sullivan (Bronx Artist)
“It was a hurricane in both good and bad ways. A lot of things happened and he went through many changes and it definitely influenced his art. Adam as an artist realizes that he has a voice that he should use for a certain things that he believes in. He’s focused on that and he has made it a mission to use his art as a catalyst to bring that idea out a little more. I think he is going in the right direction.” – Gary (DEGA Director)
“There’s a lot of thought behind this work. With these pieces specifically, you’re allowed to interpret what you want. Not like other works in the past where it’s all real quick; you get it as soon as you see it. Your reaction is instant. With the new work, you have to take a moment with each piece and you get what you want from it or perhaps you figure out what Adam is trying to say.” – Cyrus (Los Angeles Artist)
“I’ve always loved Adam’s art and the playfulness of it, but this [new work] has taken a more serious and provoking stand point. It still incorporates sort of levity while still maintaining some pretty serious and important themes. I love how he gargles words into… this Instagram culture context, but places it in such a way that you can’t miss it or in some cases it kind of blends in but then you rescan it and it’s so obvious.” – Adam Gil (Chicago Artist)
“I think it’s great that he’s stepping out of post-Hanksy. I know that this is what he studied, this is what he’s passionate about and for a while he was just so wrapped up in the Hanksy persona. So, I think it’s great that he’s actually stepping out and really showing something he’s really passionate about and something that he’s really excited about. I’m really happy for him.” – Anna (Owner of Wall Works NY)
“I appreciate the risk he’s taking. The artists that don’t take the risk don’t get anywhere. I believe he’s already succeeded.” – Turtle Caps (NY Artist)
All photos and interviews by SprATX
See more photos from the event here