Book Covers: Live Painting with Marlo Broughton at AADL


Marlo Broughton

Photo by Jay Adams.

Marlo Broughton, aka MarloBro, is an artist and designer whose work ranges from pop culture to social issues like police brutality to love and friendship. He's been involved with Detroit's creative scene since 2007 and steadily built his portfolio in the city’s streets and galleries. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in the area and he works with agencies including 1XRun, Playground Detroit, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

He’s also been a part of the creative group Finally Famous with Tommey Walker, his cousin and founder of the Detroit Vs. Everybody clothing line. This group helped drive rapper Big Sean’s artistic projects into motion and allowed Broughton to have a hand in mixtapes and branding during Big Sean’s indie career.

In 2017, he was commissioned for his biggest project to date, a collection of artwork hung in downtown Detroit in promotion of the Detroit film. The pieces depicted the struggle of an African-American male being a victim of police brutality, a subject Broughton thought might be too controversial at first. But Annapurna Pictures saw otherwise, loved the idea, and the rest is history.

He has become known for doing live paintings, a skill he has showcased on Fox 2 amongst other news outlets. On July 21, he will provide AADL with the unique experience in an event centered on community unity and engagement entitled “Book Covers: Live Painting with Marlo Broughton” at the downtown library.

We spoke with MarloBro about his passion for art, community, the Detroit film, and more.

Q: What makes you passionate about art? 
A: Knowing that my work makes my mother happy is what really pushes me to keep producing art. She is a painter and she pretty much taught me everything I know about art. She also showed me how to carry myself as an artist as well.

Q: Community is a big theme in your work. Tell us more about your mission in society for youth. 
A: My overall mission is just to bring a new perspective to my community. I know that is a generic answer but a lot of my peers have only been as far as Oakland County. I want people to know that their eyes and minds are here to take pictures. I want them to realize they as an individual have the power to create their version of he, she, or they. They have the power to create their own narrative. I truly believe this is done by creating.

Q: Live paintings have almost become one of your signatures; do you ever get nervous painting in front of crowds? 
A: I never get too nervous when it comes to painting live. I don’t mind if I mess up because I can always paint over it. Also, it’s good to be flawed.

Q: You did a mural for the Detroit film in 2017 as a part of its promotion. That seemed to help boost your career. What was that experience like? 
A: I would first off give a shout to Paulina and Sam of Playground Detroit. They have always believed in my voice and character, so when they came to me about the opportunity, I wanted to make sure I did my city justice by making sure I told the narrative from my point of view, which is the black male experience. The fact they gave me freedom to do so was amazing! It helped my career by putting my work on a national platform, which is really stellar.

Q: Who or what inspires you to create? 
A: My mum, baba, family, and friends, and the community I live in.

Q: What would you consider your signature style to be in your art? 
A: It was a movement but is also minimal.

Q: What can people expect from the live painting event at AADL? 
A: They can expect to see a lot of critical thinking and movement.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Hopefully, working for a creative firm making remotely six figures, painting, traveling, and owing a themed restaurant in Shibuya [Tokyo].

Sean Copeland is a recording artist, music producer, writer, and AADL staff member.

"Book Covers: Live Painting with Marlo Broughton" takes place Saturday, July 21, 1-4 pm at the Ann Arbor District Library's downtown branch.