We love art, we love hip hop, and we were born in the late 80’s, which is why when we came across someone making 8bit art of famous hip hop rappers and producers we knew we had to get in touch with the guy. Chris Hurtt is the artist behind 8BitHipHop and we asked him some questions about how it got started and about his work. 

Introduce yourself? Tell us who you are, where you live and what you’re about?

Hey my name is Chris Hurtt, my friends call me Heezy. I grew up in Queens, New York but I currently reside in San Francisco, California. I’m a creative designer who focuses on developing visuals based on Hip Hop artists and cultivating great fan experiences around music & storytelling.

How did you start doing what you’re doing? 8 bit portraits of hip hop artists – tell us how you got started and how it’s going?

I started creating these 8bit visuals about 3 years ago from a school project. Our design class was given free rein to develop an infographic poster on any topic we thought was interesting. Some of my classmates chose sports stats, world history facts, etc. but my main goal was to grab the viewer’s attention, and I love Hip Hop, so what better subject than Kanye West?!

I chose the 8bit style because I felt like it was interesting to reflect on how the same “character” could have different looks while still being true to who he was. That’s where it really all began.

I started posting the work online and it got some great response initially. I then made a promise to myself that I wanted to create something new every day, and although difficult, I’ve stuck to that for almost 2 years now!

Nowadays, things are a bit different. I not only have to focus on what will be my next design but also what kind of products to put out next and communicating with my small team & external partners about blog posts, social media content, future events, and artist collaborations. It’s very challenging but also very exciting.

You’re really touching on all corners of hip hop, from a Ja-Rule to DJ Premier and even an Ashanti – which one is your favorite? Which one lies closes to your heart?

Man, that’s a difficult choice especially considering the hours I’ve spent on each of them. But in terms of favorite artist, I’d have to go with Nas since I also grew up in Queens, NY and Illmatic is my favorite album, Phife is also very close to my heart, especially with his recent passing. 

In terms of design, its either between my Travis Scott (fire element) or Wu-Tang Series. Those were so different and experimental that they helped me achieve some new levels of creation.

You’re clearly a big hip hop fan, what’s your latest find that you feel everyone should know about? What do you like so much about this artist?

My favorite album of 2015 was TPAB. In 2016 I’ve had on replay Kaytranada’s 99.9%, Anderson .Paak’s Malibu, BJ the Chicago Kid’s In My Mind, and Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book. 

I’m constantly listening to new music but I always find myself going back to these albums because of their pure creativity and how different they are from everything else that has been coming out recently.

You have some pieces with a sort of Basquiat-crown hanging over their portraits. How do you choose these? Explain why you do this?

Yeah that was an interesting series featuring Drake, Kendrick, and J.Cole. The point was that everyone is always debating “who’s the best rapper in the game?”, and I felt like “who’s your favorite out of those three?” say a lot about your taste in music, they’re all kings in their own aspect so it’s more of a rhetorical question. I don’t know if I’ll do that again in the future but maybe someone new might come up and snatch the crown.

Who would you love to have an artwork of you, hanging on their wall at their home / studio?

Anyone who supports the brand across the globe, I’d love to see them have their favorite artist(s)/memorabilia hanging in their space. That’s why we continue to add more prints, stickers, posters, etc. because we want to touch on all aspects of Hip Hop. With every order we ship out a few extras just as a thank you, and ask them to share with us how they rock it because we are genuinely interested in the people that show us love.

What’s your dream collabo? Who would you love to work with, and what type of a project would it be?

Dream collabs would have to be with TDE (Kendrick), Dreamville (J.Cole), Pro Era (Joey Bada$$), and Kanye West…just to name a few. These are some of my favorite artists who still remain relevant and important to the culture. 

I’m so positive that 8BitHipHop is moving in the right direction that it’s not a matter of if but when we get a chance to collaborate. I’d love to work with them in an aspect that we are starting to expand more on, which is artist branding and creating collectible memorabilia for artists. This is all about helping them to be timelessly remembered in music culture.

What can we expect from you in 2016?

2016 is shaping up to be a great year for us with so many new projects in the works. Expect more collaborations with artists, new products on our site, and a few gallery shows in select cities. We try not to take on every opportunity because the ones we do say yes to, we want it to be incredible, so it does require sacrifices. We’re always looking to grow and work with amazingly talented people around the world.