In the world of art, design and fashion, the ability to stay current and cutting edge is a coveted one. The talent for adapting to shifting trends and styles is enough to make a man a king in the industry. But if staying on the cutting edge can put you on top, what about the ability to create the cutting edge? To predict the trends that others will follow, to truly be ahead of your time? Well the name for something before birth is fetus. The name of the artist that births new trends is Phetus.
A product of the 80’s the L.I. native came up during the era of Reganomics and raw Hip-Hop culture. With Graffiti, guns, drugs, bum-rushin and breaking as a backdrop the latch key kid developed his identity amongst the ruckus as a Graff head, opting for the Krylon can over the microphone, an unusual choice considering the legendary MC’s in his backyard. “Rakim, De La Soul, EPMD, Public Enemy were all just a town or 2 away,” he says reminiscing. “At the time Hip-Hop was a small circle of people which I was able to bounce in and out of because of my passion for the music and the artistic avenues that went along with the culture.”
Once his path was picked, it didn’t take long for the innovations to begin. In 1988 Phetus, noticing that every graff head would just tag their names, decided to create his now infamous “Phat Phace” logo to represent him on the walls and freight trains he detailed with his touch. After mastering outdoor warfare, Phetus moved his art closer to the people, teaching himself to airbrush and after apprenticing under Nike of the Shirt Kings crew. Soon after he became the man to see in Long Island for custom clothes and accessories for Hip-Hop stars like Son Of Bazerk, Young Black Teenagers and most noticeably Flavor Flav, who ordered custom clocks and a custom airbrushed and rhine-stoned hoody which he wore on the Arsenio Hall show. Public Enemy’s love for the Phetus flair would be the key to taking him mainstream as they would take their fellow Long Islander with them on the ZooTV tour to paint all their graffiti back drops as they opened for U2.
Trends shift and change but instead of waiting for the next wave to hit, Phetus created his own investing in a screen printing press and using his connects and good reputation to grab accounts from more industry heavyweights. Tour shirts for Leaders Of The New School and Young Black Teenagers soon became orders for Le Tigre, Redman, Rough Riderz and Jenifer Lopez. With the respect of his brand growing, Phetus soon became the go-to guy for logos, supplying Keith Murray’s L.O.D. Erick Sermon’s Def Squad and DJ Khaled’s We The Best crew.
But why stop there? After opening his own graffiti supply and clothing boutique store Concrete Vibes, Phetus was able to sell his own line of t-shirts, skateboards and be the first to sell Belton spray paint on Long Island. When it wasn’t being used as an art gallery, Concrete Vibes served as a home base for Phetus to paint more custom gear and sneakers for artists like Dipset, Fabolous, Wyclef which lead to him working with Ludacris and his Disturbing Tha Peace camp during his Chicken & Beer campaign. And yet, with attention from the industry all over him, Phetus still made time to cultivate local talent, hosting graffiti showcases with the likes of Iz The Wiz, FX crew, Cope2, KR one, and finally the Godfather of graffiti, SEEN.
It would be showcases like these and meetings with SEEN that would remind Phetus what his original loved was. Even with all the acclaim and fame coming to him, he decided to close the doors of Concrete Vibes and relocated to the Bronx where under a 2 year apprenticeship with SEEN, Phetus would take his art beyond national sneakers and clothes and into the international world of art galleries. Between tearing up his passport jet-setting to Japan, Amsterdam, Spain and London where he partied with the one and only Banksy. The world-renowned artist was so taken with him, he allowed him to paint his Phat Phace logo over a 100-year-old painting he had in his studio. “At the time I didn’t know who he was,” Phetus admits. “Years later the name he has become blows my mind, that one of the most famous artists of out time owns a canvass of mine.” The London adventures proved monumental in more ways than one as Phetus couldn’t resist the urge to throw the Phat Phace on Big Ben. But after being taken into custody for defacing a national monument, he was released after his status as an American came into play. “They didn’t want the press to see an American did it and not Banksy,” he says grinning. Rotating back to the states didn’t stop the show. With the overseas art scene catching on in America, SEEN started a company called “Planet 6” and immediately hired Phetus to develop a line of vinyl toys, most notably the Phoney-Baloney which were pigs in police uniforms which was just the beginning. “I was involved in dozens custom art shows with Kid Robot and other designer toy labels,” says Phetus. “Ultimately being one of the artists in a collector series called Fat Caps."
With his goals achieved in the toy sector and his actual pieces selling to buyers across the country, Phetus took it back to the Boondocks of L.I. and teamed up with some friends for Concrete Vibes 2 which now included a recording studio. With the reemergence of the shop, Phetus was back to work doing hoodies for Uncle Murder, Lloyd Banks, Saigon, Mike Knox, Peedi Krack and Cuban Link. The Phetus Exclusives caught the eye of stylist Monica Morrow which in turn lead to more custom work for LL Cool J for his James Todd line and Games Black Wallstreet crew for his “One Blood” and “My Life” videos. “I did thirty-six hoodies in 48 hours for One Blood,” he says remembering the order. “The "Hip-Hop Broke My Heart" shirt from the “My Life” video got so popular, Games website started selling the bootleg.”
Even in between all the orders Phetus kept his paintbrush hot. A request for some office art lead to the president of Iconic Motors noticing the work and by the time it was all said and done, Phetus’s art was being displayed along side the highest-level performance cars during the New York Auto Show in 2009 and again in 2010. The successes lead to two solo art shows, including the In Your Phace show at the Toycube boutique in Queens.
With the art world under his thumb and the fashion world at his beck-and-call, Phetus decided it was time to skip ahead to the digital world. And with credentials, reputation and resume, it didn’t take long for the opportunities to show up. “I was given the opportunity to design whatever type of mobile device app I wanted,” he said. “So naturally I come up with a graffiti related app called Grafitti Spraycan - 8 months later... 5 million downloads.” The success of the app lead to him being named the creative leader of the Elite Gudz company in charge of developing new apps for iPhones while expanding into video games.
With an artists natural instinct to be seen and heard and Sha Money XL holding the reigns as management, it’s just a matter of time before the world can catch up to man who spends his time being ahead of the it… if he slows down enough to let it.
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