Black Artist Introduces Basquiat to Children in New Book
Artist, illustrator and Coretta Scott King Award winner Javaka Steptoe is doing his part to help introduce kids to the wonderful world of art, culture, and Basquiat in his picture book Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artistic style was a unique mixture of graffiti and collage that typically included words or code, from letters and numbers to map symbols, logos and more. It wasn’t neat and hadn’t been seen before, and included bold messages. The book focuses on Basquiat as a child who is “who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City.”
Interestingly enough, the book doesn’t include any reproductions of the artist’s actual work, but was instead entirely illustrated by Steptoe, who used Basquiat’s art as inspiration. “From the beginning, I knew I wasn’t going to get the rights to any actual images,” Steptoe previously stated in an interview. “So, I had to figure out which pieces by him I wanted to represent in my own painting. Which was actually all to the good, because by my not being able to acquire any rights, my imagery is “inspired” by Basquiat, but it is most definitely my take, my rendering of the imagery that takes precedence. I honor Basquiat’s story and spirit without using reproductions. Which actually worked out to be much more satisfying and stimulating.”
Javaka has written and illustrated many children’s classics in his day, including Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, Thank You, Jackie Robinson, The Story of Jumping Mouse and more.
Photo Credit: Javaka Steptoe