Tributes paid to street art star Chris Hill following his sudden death at home

One half of a teenage duo that brought hip hop, graffiti and breakdancing to Hemel Hempstead in the early 1980s has passed away suddenly at the age of 48.

Chris Hill and best friend Mark Strong enjoyed the limelight when, at just 17 years old, they embraced the American-born youth movement.

Chris Hill with his three children, twins Jamie and Cameron, 11, and Kira, 16. PNL-140325-111458001

Chris Hill with his three children, twins Jamie and Cameron, 11, and Kira, 16. PNL-140325-111458001

They were sponsored by Adidas and appeared on television shows The Tube, The Six O’Clock Show and Get Fresh.

Mark said: “We were quite good at art and we just started teaching ourselves to do it. Being kids we did one or two illegal pieces but then the council got to hear about us and commissioned us to cover white walls like the bus station toilets.

“It just snowballed. We were quite famous back then and we appeared on television a few times. We were the go to guys for graffiti.”

The pair met at Adeyfield School and worked together at McDonalds during their teenage years, doing graffiti projects in their spare time.

“We were getting paid for doing something we absolutely loved. Chris was really talented and went on to teach himself how to do computer graphics,” said Mark, of Northend.

Their work could be spotted at council-run public toilets across Hemel Hempstead and British Rail paid them to brighten up the subway at Hemel Hempstead railway station.

Mark said: “It was all self-taught. As well as being lovely and caring, Chris was just an absolute genius. He was so good that when he was in his early 20s he got invited to America to train with Walt Disney’s Richard Williams. He told him he had the world at his feet. Chris was quite sought after in America but he couldn’t bear to move away.”

Williams was a pioneer of hand-drawn animation, working on films such as The Pink Panther and Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Despite being colour blind father-of three Chris, of Gadebridge, worked for a computer game developer and later on established his own London company creating adverts for industry giants like McDonalds, Nike and Kraft.

He recently left the business so that he could spend more time with his wife Angie and three children Kira, 16, and twins Jamie and Cameron, 11.

Chris died of a suspected cardiac arrest while at home with his children. His funeral is being held at West Herts Crematorium in Garston on Tuesday at 3.20pm. The family is requesting donations instead of flowers so that a fund can be set up to support Chris’ children.

His mother Hilda Hill said: “He was the most wonderful son and a great father. He will be missed by everyone.”

Watch a slideshow of Chris and Mark’s work on our websites.