Todd James (American, b.1969) is a New York street artist who has achieved international acclaim. As a young child, he called himself REAS and began painting graffiti on the New York subway system as well as on local streets. He soon earned the respect of other taggers and graffiti artists; as an adult, James was able to translate his talent for graffiti into salable artwork. James created album covers for musicians, including Eminem, Kid Rock, and Mobb Deep; he is best known for having created the logo for the Beastie Boys' 1987 album, Brooklyn Dust Elephant. James also used his ability to create graffiti to make commercial artwork for clients, including The Source and Cartoon Network. He currently works as the design director for the Comedy Central program "Crank Yankers."
Although James is best known for his commercial artwork, he also has had some success exhibiting his line drawings at galleries. His line drawings are usually of women. The artist depicts these women as doing everyday activities such as shopping, working out, or talking on the telephone. James was introduced to the gallery scene in 2000 when he collaborated on the Indelible Market exhibition with Steve Powers (American, b.1968) and Barry McGhee (American, b.1966). All three of these artists are former graffiti artists who decided to use their talents in a more productive manner. The exhibition of their work was initially shown in New York. It was also chosen for the 2001 Venice Biennale in Italy and the 2002 Liverpool Biennial in England. In 2004, James participated in a documentary film and art project about graffiti artists entitled Beautiful Losers. This project explored the graffiti art world and featured interviews with James and some of his contemporaries. It was shown at various art museums throughout the United States and Europe, starting with the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, OH.
James had solo exhibitions at museums in Europe throughout the 2000s. He continues to live and work in New York.