New York: np, 1997. Multicolor acrylic paint on white short-sleeved cotton t-shirt. XL. Signed and dated in black marker, “Esq 97.” Very good with small stain on right sleeve, minor cracking to paint commensurate with age, and two small holes on back. Item #6081
Fulgurant shirt handpainted by Buddy Esquire featuring anime styled feminine character.
Esquire (born Lemoin Thompson, 1959 – 2014) was the premier show flyer artist in the Bronx during the earliest days of hip-hop, from 1978 onward. Self-taught, he learned principles of drawing and typography from books at his local library. His influences included graffiti, Japanese anime, superhero comics, and Art Deco architecture. His flyers advertised early performances of hip-hop legends such as Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc, the Funky 4 Plus 1, and the Cold Crush Brothers.
Buddy Esquire’s visual styles helped set the tone for hip-hop in the late 1970s and early 1980s. His flyers, beyond their striking graphic elements, are some of the only primary materials relating to the earliest developments of what is now the world’s most popular music genre.
Esquire began making clothes in the 1980s and 1990s, sometimes as stage wear for hip-hop groups, but usually as customized street wear. He was at the very vanguard of anime’s entrance into the US. At the time, anime was very hard to find in New York City; its early popularity in the Bronx among comic book fans and graffiti artists remains intriguing and mysterious. Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, Buddy Esquire would set up shop on Fordham Road selling his wares and taking orders for hand painted t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans.
Lurid and unique garment from the artist who created the visual language of early hip-hop.