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Futura. © MasterClass

Legendary Graffiti Artist Futura Teaches How to Create Characters, Symbols and Abstract Art With a Can of Spray Paint

Masterclass announces first painting class with Futura

Published on July 23, 2021

MasterClass, the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world’s best across a wide range of subjects, today announced that Futura, one of the pioneering forefathers of New York City graffiti, will teach a class on spray painting and abstract art. Born Leonard Hilton McGurr, abstract artist Futura will share an intimate look at his signature, kinetic approach to abstract art and teach members how to let go of perfection and express themselves through the spirit of experimentation. Futura’s class is now available exclusively on MasterClass, where subscribers get unlimited access to all 100+ instructors with an annual membership.

“A pioneer of abstract graffiti, Lenny has exhibited at institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and collaborated with iconic brands like Louis Vuitton, Nike and Supreme,” said David Rogier, founder and CEO of MasterClass. “He’s entirely self-taught in what he calls ‘the subway school’ and we’re thrilled to have him as the first painter on the platform. In his class, Lenny will break down his techniques one by one, giving members of all experience levels the confidence to pick up a spray can and experiment without restrictions.”

In his class, Futura will provide historical context to the evolution of graffiti, sharing his own journey from introducing an abstract style to his genre, to becoming the modern American painter he is today, whose work is featured in galleries and museums, and on luxury fashion runways. Known for his kinetic approach, Futura will break down his painting techniques and introduce members to the main tool of graffiti writers—the spray can—and how to adapt the can with various tricks, caps and nozzles to create a painting. Futura will also offer lessons for artists that transcend the medium, from building relationships that lead to collaborations to engaging with your audience to the importance of under promising and over delivering. Members will walk away from Futura’s class inspired by his approach to experimentation, creativity, and curiosity, with a deeper appreciation for street art and the skills they need to paint and make their mark.

“I’m excited to teach and impart wisdom and skills that I’ve learned from the last 50 years of painting outside the lines,” Futura said. “I hope this class will give members the confidence to try something new or different, take chances and learn something they were not familiar with. All you need is an idea and a can of spray paint.”

In celebration of Futura’s class launch, MasterClass and Futura—via his commercial product brand Futura Laboratories—have partnered to create a t-shirt capsule that features exclusive artwork from Futura’s class. MasterClass will reward the first 100 members who complete Futura’s class with a t-shirt from the collection. Limited t-shirts will also be available for purchase at

Futura is celebrated for his mastery of color, geometric composition, progressiveness and of-the-moment dynamism. Over the course of his career, he transitioned from making New York–based subway graffiti throughout the 1970s and early 1980s to exhibiting fine art at Fun Gallery alongside major artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf. He started out tagging subway walls under the superhero pseudonym “Futura 2000” and would go on to paint entire subway trains, pioneering a radically expressive, signature style of non-letter-based abstraction. Since then, his work has been exhibited at notable art institutions such as the Noguchi Museum and MoMA PS1 in New York and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. As one of the world’s most successful and prolific collaborative artists, he has collaborated with iconic brands including Nike, Off-White, Chanel, Comme des Garcons and BMW, as well as with iconic artists and designers such as Takashi Murakami, Rammellzee, Virgil Abloh and The Clash. Futura’s creativity—articulated across canvas, paper, sculpture, photography, graphic design and large-scale mural work—shines as a result of its kinetic composition, elemental quality and fully original gestures.

Culture Editor