Hebru Brantley

Empowering, Afrofuturist visions inspired by Pop Art and notions of heroism.

head shot of Hebru Brantley in his studio wearing black long sleeved top with hands held together
Hebru Brantley sat on a desk alongside two of his sculptures
Hebru Brantley walking through large studio space surrounded by three large sculptures of his
7 images

Hebru Brantley was born in 1981 in Chicago, where he continues to live and work.


The artist has collaborated with and received commissions from a host of instantly recognisable brands including Nike, Lacoste, Nickelodeon, NBA, Redbull, BE@RBRICK, Hublot and Adidas.

Did you know?

Among his notable collectors are celebrities LeBron James, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Lenny Kravitz and George Lucas.

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Practice overview

Brantley’s trademark superheroes appear across canvas, murals and sculpture. The young characters are headstrong and ambitious, often adorned in suits and masks that reference fictional icons like Batman and the Incredible Hulk. As a child, Brantley did not see himself or his friends represented in the comic books and sci-fi stories that he loved. The majority of the narratives centred around one all-powerful figure who was the incarnation of a white male. Critical of this, Brantley translates all that he admires about superheroes into archetypal characters who represent people of colour in an amalgamation of street art, Manga and Pop Art. In parallel, Brantley also paints his artistic heroes, with Jean Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol making appearances on canvas.

The Watch (2013) is a public installation on Michigan Avenue in the heart of Chicago’s art district. Having grown up in Chicago, Brantley uses the public sculpture to highlight the beauty of the city and its people, while also acknowledging the difficulties and violences for young communities within it. In addition, the character’s oversized pilot goggles reference The Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of African American and Caribbean-born pilots who fought in the Second World War. By incorporating these fragments of lived reality into fantastical storylines, Brantley continues the legacies of Afrofuturism to imagine new possible futures.

“Ultimately, I want to leave people with a good feeling, I want to engage with that light the people let go dim within them.”Hebru Brantley