Cey Adams, a New York City native, emerged from the downtown graffiti movement to exhibit alongside fellow artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. He appeared in the historic 1982 PBS documentary Style Wars which tracks subway graffiti in New York. As the Creative Director of hip hop mogul Russell Simmons’ Def Jam Recordings, he co-founded the Drawing Board, the label’s in-house visual design firm, where he created visual identities, album covers, logos, and advertising campaigns for Run DMC, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G., Maroon 5, and Jay-Z. He exhibits, lectures and teaches art workshops at institutions including: MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of the City of New York, New York University, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Walker Art Center, MoCA Los Angeles, Pratt Institute, Stamford University, Howard University, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, High Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Mount Royal University and The University of Winnipeg in Canada. He co-authored DEFinition: The Art and Design of Hip-Hop, published by Harper-Collins; and designed Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label, published by Rizzoli. Cey’s work explores the relationship between transformation and discovery. His practice involves dismantling various imagery and paper elements to build multiple layers of color, texture, shadow, and light. Cey draws inspiration from 60’s pop art, sign painting, comic books, and popular culture. His work focuses on themes including pop culture, race and gender relations, cultural and community issues.

Artist Statement

This recent body of work is titled Trusted Brands. A series of paintings created to explore our fascination, and hypnotic relationship with brand loyalty. The images, characters and mascots in these pieces are used as a metaphor to analyze larger questions about the “Celebration" of American culture. A bygone era in history, closely related to our youth and innocence. At first glance like pictures in a book or magazine my paintings are very recognizable. Your eyes and brain tell you what you’re seeing is familiar. Feelings of comfort and nostalgia take over. Push in closer and hidden messages are revealed raising questions about our values, consumerism, race, gender, class, and history.

photos courtesy of Janette Beckman