Rugman has an absolutely unique style. You always know when you’ve seen a Rugman.
How did you get into the old art game?
I’ve always been drawing from a young age. I suppose comics, graf and skating turned me on to how art can be used commercially and I had my heart set on being an illustrator or graphic designer. For me in the mid to late 80’s it was all about skate, punk music and drawing all the time. Graphics like the Vision Psycho Stick were so inspiring. My brother and I even started a little side-line with hand-crafted stencils, fabric paint and blank T-shirts… home-made copies of Thrasher and Stussy logo t-shirts went down well with our friends and funded our early love of beer. I moved to London in ’98 to go to art school but the ground breaker for me was being in Shoreditch from 1999, seeing the core of street art and feeling like I finally belong, it was my kind of art! I worked in the fashion industry in Hoxton as a graphic designer and by night would paint in my studio in Hackney. As an artist you always want your work out there and I enjoyed getting my work on the walls when I could. I’ve been massively lucky along the way and through hard work and persistence I now find myself selling my work and exhibiting around the world. It’s great to do something you love and at the same time it pays the bills.
It’s not just walls we can find your work on… It’s also found on some pretty smart clothes too right?
Yeah, I’ve worked in the rag trade for years as a graphic designer doing projects with brands like Vans, Red Bull and Edwin. I decided to start my own graphic tee brand, Rum Knuckles, in 2009. The T-shirt is a great canvas for artists and really gets your work out there for the masses. I still do fashion based projects but my art is now the main part of my daily life and with the up coming Saatchi show and two more shows for 2016 its pretty much full time artist for me.
So where did the names Rugman and Rum Knuckles come from?
Ha ha… Rugman comes from the fact I am a really hairy bastard. I had a hairy chest by the time I was 14 and started shaving by then too. This was a real winner in Glasgow as I could get served booze before any of my mates. The name Rum Knuckles stems from my great uncle John who was a bare knuckle fighter and a home town legend. He also served in the army and I dreamt this nickname for him as he liked a tipple and had hands of steel when it came to boxing.