#CCINDEX: CEY ADAMS

#CCIndex is a compendium providing the need-to-knows of the movers and shakers of street culture, regionally and internationally.

Before the bastardization of hip-hop graphics on t-shirts, they were revolutionary in the world of music. Poignant, riveting and complete. Withstanding the test of time, these graphics, usually designed as album covers, are the visuals that accompany the genre of music.

The mastermind behind this revolution was Cey Adams. Creative Director of the legendary Def Jam Recordings and Co-founder of Drawing Board. One of the most influential creatives in the world of hip-hop. 

He started his metamorphosis from vandal to fine artist at the age of 19. Approached by Lower Manhattan gallery Graffiti Above Ground, which represented notable artists such as CRASH, DAZE, Pink, ALI, Zephyr, and REVOLT, Adams agreed to be represented by the gallery through the formative years of his career. Picking up on all the essential skills and valuable industry insights.

Whilst working with the gallery, he was approached by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, to helm the creative director role at Def Jam Recordings. And a little while later, co-founded Drawing Board, where he made album covers, logos, and campaigns for artists under the powerhouse record label. Run DMC, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G, Maroon 5 and more. Such was his influence in music imagery, he began designing marketing material for the Beastie Boys and as a testament to their burgeoning friendship, they dubbed Adams the “Unofficial 4th Beastie Boy”. 

When he’s not working on his emblematic legacy with Def Jam, he’s focusing on his fine art practice. A highly-regarded artist in his own right, he’s shown his works at reputable institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. One of his more renowned bodies of work, Trusted Brands (2015), is a series of collages where he combines corporate logos from the likes of Coca-Cola, KFC and Pam Am with acrylic paint and paper elements; deconstructing, highlighting consumerism and pop culture.  

Adams, having seen the hip-hop scene grow in stride since the ’70s, continues to push the boundaries of art and design. Watching the hip-hop culture and society intertwine, he delves deep into this phenomenon, cleverly making use of his signature style of dissembling iconography with critical subject matter.