Livin’ it up at Art History 101

Most people wouldn’t recognize J.P. Pross walking down the street, but watch enough hip hop videos and one is sure to catch some of Pross’ shirt designs. Soulja Boy, Beyonce, Gillie Da Kid and The Game have all worn Pross’ customized t-shirts and hoodies in their music videos and on magazine covers.

Pross used to paint all of his t-shirt and hoodie designs by hand. Sometimes it took him three days to finish one shirt, he says. Pross eventually quit school at the Art Institute of Philadelphia to create t-shirt designs full time with an art company.

“I couldn’t make them fast enough,” he says.

In 2008, Pross founded and opened the store Art History 101 in Frankford to sell his silk screen-printed clothing. He expanded the business to a second location on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough last month.

“I went to the whole other side of the city,” says Pross, a native of Northeast Philadelphia. “I feel like the quality of life [in Roxborough] is better. It’s like a melting pot.”

Pross is collaborating with other local artists to create his own sort of melting pot within the Art History culture. He calls it “PSP” – Philly supporting Philly.

Rapper Kevin “Livin” Morgen of Jenkintown will host a release party for his new book of poetry and hip hop album at Art History from 7 to 10 p.m. tonight. 

Morgen has rapped for 10 years. The material on his new album, “City of Brotherly Love”, dates back to 2006. Morgen endured a few delays in the recording process, like becoming partially paralyzed in the summer of 2009. 

Some of the songs on his new album like “Divided We Fall” deal in graphic detail with his injury – and the grueling recovery process. And his album also features guest appearances by Philly’s hip hop talent like Reef the Lost Cauze. “I came up with the name ‘Art History’ to attract every kind of artist,” says Pross.

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