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On Richard Hambleton and Using Art to Tackle Stigma

May 26th, 2021

Category: General


Here at DRiNKLiNK, we’ve been inspired by the Canadian street artist, Richard Hambleton’s life story. For years he suffered from alcohol and drug dependency but still created sought-after artwork that continues to sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Richard Hambleton’s Story

Richard Hambleton was big in the New York street art scene in the 70’s and 80’s. He became known for his dripping, dark, life-sized figures he painted, contributing to his nickname – Shadowman. His street art was designed to exert a physical response due to their menacing feel which he would paint in the dead of night.


Shadowman was the first street artist to be embraced by the New York gallery scene as his fame and success increased. This is a sought-after pinnacle in any artist’s career! 

Unfortunately despite his success, Hambleton struggled with addiction and was also diagnosed with skin cancer. He spent the next 30 years of his life fighting addiction, homelessness, and poverty. 


The value of his artwork began to plummet as his situation worsened. At points, he would sell his paintings in exchange for a meal. However all through his difficulties, Richard Hambleton would create fascinating artwork, even using blood from used syringes when he ran out of paint. 


Hambleton never recovered from his addictions and sadly passed away at the age of 65 in 2017. His artwork now sells for thousands of dollars and leaves a poignant reminder that his addiction did not detract from his talent and artwork. 


Spotlight on Stigma

Through his ‘Horse and Rider’ series, Hambleton turned his focus to the Marlboro Man, the cowboy figure whose macho image promoted cigarettes for decades. Hambleton, who himself smoked, toyed with the image, painting shadow figures over it … sometimes mixing tobacco with black paint for what he called a ‘black lung’ effect”. His work encouraged people to see past the motivations of the advertising campaign and truly think about what cigarettes were doing to their bodies.


Largely inspired by the legendary street artist, we at DRiNKLiNK, have decided to launch an art competition and encourages people to follow in Hambleton’s footsteps by using the medium of art to tackle the stigma around alcohol addiction.


Submit your art to help us raise awareness around the stigma of alcohol dependency and misuse! Learn more about the competition and the amazing prizes here. 



~Image by Ev on Unsplash

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