Rugman on Icons and Symbolism

London based artist and founder of Rum Knuckles, Anthony McEwan AKA Rugman is contributing to Art on a Postcard for the second time. His unique style was huge hit with our audience last year and his cards greatly in demand. For the Summer Postcard Lottery with CultureLabel we have been very lucky to work with Anthony again. He has produced this iconic image of John Lennon which could be owned by buying a £10 lottery ticket. Rosa Torr caught up with him this week. 

Get your lottery ticket HERE

RT In a few words could you introduce yourself to our readers?

AM My name is Anthony McEwan but I have been known through my art career as Rugman. The very simple explanation for this name is I am extremely hairy. My art centres around the technique of basic pen and ink drawing, black and white always play a major part. Elements of my skate, punk and comic collecting youth always come through in my art, seeking the rawness of the homemade punk zines of the early days.

 RT   You have talked in the past about using tattoos as symbolism in your work to “disfigure them in some way”. Do the badges in your postcard serve a similar purpose, and if so, what are they symbolic of?

AM Yes symbolism is a major part of my work. The tattoos play the part of filling the space with stories, marks of the human tale. They also show the beliefs, fears and maybe even their standing in that tribal community. As my work has progressed this symbolism takes on different forms and yes the badges, pin badges and patches are a relation of this concept because once again you are showing your beliefs and marks of your tribal subculture…….. showing which bands you favour. This project can run and run, I really enjoy it as you are using great icons such as John Lennon and giving him his badges which I think he would have worn and essentially his tribal badges. The viewer can relate and understand icons and I think mixing in some Disney characters badges helps to lighten the mood a little. 

RT     How did you go about the selection process for the art you used for your collaboration with Jealous for The Saatchi Gallery space?

AM This whole show came from one image I produced a few years back. Again symbolic but looking at mother nature and the female form at its purist level. The idea of creating a tribe of goddesses that were half human but tied with nature really worked and the heads of birds worked to give that beauty of nature. This series is called Sister, Mother, something I am very passionate about. I have just started the new collection for a show next spring at Jealous Gallery. 

 RT  Your work is very recognisable, you certainly have your own consistent style, could you let our readers know how you came to develop it? What was the process?

AM Its really nice to hear when people recognise your style as it takes years and years to develop. As a young artist you crave that one thing, for your own style. It's taken me a good 14 years to really get to know myself as an artist and where i need to take it. I had a very good grounding at Chelsea Art Collage which armed me with techniques and skills. This then enabled me to go forward and try different things.  This is where your style is born because after years of trying and making many mistakes you begin to hone in on the techniques you like and the ones which successfully translate what is in you head. 

RT  How has working so closely with the fashion industry informed your work?

AM I think it has made me understand the consumer more and gave me a good business grounding. At the end of the day art is consumed and in order to survive and pay the bills as an artist you have to sell art. Also because it is such a fast paced, cut throat industry it made work harder and faster. 

RT  You have been working all over the world consistently for 15 years, how do you find daily inspiration?

AM I am very lucky in this sense as I have books and books of ideas from years ago which I am working my way through. Ideas which will lay dormant for years and then one day it will click and I will understand how I can use it. In fact this is the case for one of my solo shows next year, the idea of using stained glass is something I’ve wanted to do for 8 years but its only now I have a use for it. I also posses an over active mind which really helps with ideas but can also go over load after too many coffees! ha ha….

RT  Thinking less about the daily and more about the permanent; what are five things you couldn’t live without?

AM My wife and kids, Studio, Pen, Paper, Mac

RT  What made you want to get involved with Art on a Postcard?

AM I think its a fantastic cause and I really want to do something to help eradicate hep C. I also have great respect for Gemma Peppé and her team who always do a fantastic job every year with their artists.

RT  Why Lennon?

AM  I think if you look around us in the world today, I think what a bloody mess we have made! More war more blood shed…….. And I look at Lennon and what he stood for and it makes me realise how much people like him are missed.  He had great morals and also a fantastic passion for his art. The one major thing is he was never scared to speak out against the governments who were creating the bloodshed and I believe there is not enough people in the fame game today willing to speak out and put there necks on the line.

RT  What other exciting projects do you have coming up?

AM I have 2 major solo shows coming up next year and a new big print release in the next few months. Also my clothing brand Rum Knuckles will be moving into Europe by the end of the year and USA next year. 

RT   Where can our readers keep up to date and find out more about your work?

You can get me on my site

 or Instagram or  Twitter   and Facebook

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