Photo Courtesy of Cey Adams
Photo Courtesy of Cey Adams


Cey Adams, Pioneering Graffiti and Visual Artist

Whenever I bump into Cey Adams these days, he always says the same thing, “Mr. Focus.” usually in the tone of a feared professor at an elite design school. And I always laugh, and then we’ll briefly talk. We never spoke before the conversation we recorded, but his work has been talking to me all my life.


Listen to Cey Adams tell his Story


From the conversation we recorded from his DUMBO, Brooklyn studio, I learned the importance of self-advocacy. Cey’s story of securing recognition and compensation for his art interested me deeply, primarily when used commercially. In an industry that often undervalues artistic expression, he championed the worth of his creations.

Cey’s artistic journey, encompassing graffiti, graphic design, and art direction, underscored another vital lesson: embrace change and evolve. Graffiti, a sometimes misunderstood medium, wasn’t just a platform for Cey; it was the foundation that shaped his path. Embracing his roots and passions, no matter how unconventional, led Cey to a treasure trove of unforeseen opportunities.

The transition from the analog world to the digital one highlighted another key takeaway: the spirit of creativity goes beyond tools and methods. Cey effortlessly navigated these changes, preserving the core of his art while embracing new technologies.

Working with iconic artists like Mary J. Blige and Redman further underlined the importance of collaboration. Cey’s ability to capture and translate an artist’s personality into a tangible form is magic to me. I gathered from our conversation that true collaboration is about listening, understanding, and giving voice to a shared vision.

At some point, we talked about Cey’s contribution to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and the cyclical nature of creativity. Cey’s dedication to mentoring the next generation and opening doors for others stressed the responsibility that comes with success. Our achievements, I now understand, are not solely ours but a legacy we build for those who follow.

This short reflection on my conversation with Cey Adams offers a glimpse of his story. However, for the full spectrum experience, try scrolling back up and listening to the entire conversation to unlock the complete story.

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