How Did Hip Hop Inspire This NOLA Artist?

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The work is bold, colorful and brash.  “Elleone” is his brand, but the artist is 9th Ward born and raised, Lionel Milton, and he’s designed and painted for some of the biggest brands in the world.

Milton: “It’s kinda funny that being such a small guy, and I just draw and paint that bigger companies have come to me, ya know kinda want my style to go with their products so, it’s kinda fun.”

LBJ: “They want your flavor.”

Milton: “Yes! It’s kinda it’s fun!”

Lionel’s doing Elleone clothing, puzzles, ice cream boxes, a Mardi Brah app, iron-ons, and his work is now 3D paintings.

Milton says, “I worked with ESPN when they were here a few years ago during the Super Bowl, and they shook back and said they want to do a project with me. Post No Bills out of South Carolina with Doreen and all, they shook back about a year later and we started doing 3D paintings and it’s been phenomenal.”

While Lionel has worked with a ton of national brands, he credits his independent yearly Mardi Gras poster as his most rewarding.

“I would say my Mardi Gras poster has been the most rewarding because it’s an independent project that I kicked off, didn’t know nothin’ about distribution, or printing or any of that kinda stuff. To get into the business, and doing that and be independent, and keep getting that independent, ya know?”

LBJ: “Independent Money.”

Milton: “Yeah.”

In the art world, there the beauty of the work, and the business of selling it.  Lionel got his business inspiration from an unlikely source, the world of hip hop.

“The way I dress I saw Russell Simmons and he didn’t wear a suit and tie. I can be smart and not have a suit and tie. When I got my distribution deal, I thought about what Master P did when he said 85-15, I do all the stuff with relativity. And I thought about distribution when I listen to Biggie. ‘Don’t forget the publishing or punish them’. Big Poppa publishing, I started my own publishing company. So those little kinda vignettes, those little jewels that hip hop dropped, maybe it was or wasn’t to send a message, clearly sent a message to me that you can get your money off of your creativity.”