A self-taught artist, Basquiat began drawing at an early age on sheets of paper his father, an accountant, brought home from the office. As he delved deeper into his creative side, his mother strongly encouraged him to pursue his artistic talents.
Basquiat first attracted attention for his graffiti in New York City in the late 1970s, under the name "SAMO." Working with a close friend, he tagged subway trains and Manhattan buildings with cryptic aphorisms.
In 1977 Basquiat quit high school a year before he was slated to graduate. To make ends meet, he sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets of his native New York. Click here for more about Jean Michel Basquiat.