Michael Thompson "Freestylee"

Michael Thompson (aka Freestylee) was born in Kingston, Jamaica and is now based in the small city of Easton, Pennsylvania, United States. He studied graphic design in the early 1980s, at the Jamaica School of Art, now called the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Of the many artists that influenced Freestylee during the formative years, few did more than the Rastafarian artist Ras Daniel Hartman. Hartman’s prolific output of drawings in the 1970s represented for Freestylee a rich source of Rastafari references and traditions that were growing deep influences on the Jamaican popular culture. Freestylee’s influences were not, however, exclusively Jamaican, or the Rastafari movement. Like other young progressive artists in Jamaica at the time the anti-apartheid struggles and liberation movements in Southern Africa were very inspiring, so were the struggles in Latin America. The subjects were evident in his earlier personal designs, drawings and paintings (1970s – 80s). During that period, he won two successive poster competitions in Jamaica, which gave him the opportunity to participate with the Jamaican delegation in the 11th World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana, Cuba in 1978, and again in Moscow in 1985. He describes his visit to Cuba as “a transforming experience and a tremendous opportunity.” There, he was introduced to the Cuban poster art created by ICAIC, (Cuban Film Institute) OSPAAAL, (Organization for Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia, and Latin America), and Casa de Las Américas. Freestylee’s visit to Cuba, and his exposure to Cuban posters created by designers at these organizations greatly inspired his poster design aesthetics.

Michael Thompson links: Webpage | Facebook

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