Illustration by Maria Manhattan
Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York on December 20, 1960. He began his art career as a teenage graffiti artist who wrote sayings on public buildings around New York City. At 15, he was supporting himself by selling painted T-shirts and handmade postcards. Basquiat met other struggling young artists like Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, who were also part of the exciting graffiti movement in Greenwich Village in the late 1970s. Basquiat’s graffiti stood out and told witty and poetic messages, which he signed SAMO.