I’ve never given up. I think the fact that I have been a fairly successful artist and self-employed for up to 15 years, I think that shows my will to never give up.
After painting G-Shock East rather brilliantly for their Never Give Up campaign, artist Remi Rough joined G-Shock at Moniker yesterday for another fantastic installation.
These pictures are taken from Moniker, which saw Remi paint an entire street scene, including a bus stop with Moniker timetable. You wait hours, and then four come along at once (etc etc)...!
We had a chat with the boundary breaking, creatively progressive graffiti writer about his work.
G-Shock was developed from “a desire to create an unbreakable watch” – what was your desire/ambition when starting out in your career?
When I initially started out it wasn’t really a career, it was just rebellious reflection; my point of view at that time was just to be rebellious. Looking back, as a 41-year-old, there are slight differences – now I just want to produce good, quality work.
How would you describe what you do?
It’s hard to describe in a sentence. I started off painting graffiti and it morphed into this geometric, abstract thing steeped in the references of my past.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a new body of work for my first LA solo show, which is opening on October 25th. I have just finished a very large painting for the futurism 2.0 show, which opens in London on September 27th.
Could you run us through your general day to day?
I’ll get up, take the children to school, jump on my bike to the studio. The studio is just up the road from me in Peckham. I work from there most days, making sculptures and painting.
The G-Shock ethos is “never give up” – can you relate to this?
Absolutely. I’ve never given up. I met with someone yesterday who said, “Oh, what’s your day job?” And often I reply, “This is my day job.” I think the fact that I have been a fairly successful artist and self-employed for up to 15 years, I think that shows my will to never give up.
Was it tough to get to where you are?
God yeah – it was hard! And especially in London; someone was telling me yesterday that in the Shoreditch area there is a three-mile radius where something like 80,000 artists work. That’s not even including Peckham or west London.
I had my first Casio watch when I was about six years old. It was my first digital watch. Later I had a calculator one.
Would you say your job is still tough today?
It’s definitely become a lot easier. I’ve always been quite involved with brands – I’ve worked with so many different brands over the years. I’ve got a good working ethos with them, and I understand how brands work. I’m not one of these precious artists who says, “Oh no, I can’t do that,” because brands put money into art whereas the government doesn’t. Obviously everyone has an agenda, but when you compromise that you can collaborate and make something really good.
How important is the role of technology in your life?
I think it’s very important. Being part of this 2.0 show, you understand how important it is, because the whole show is about how futurists were trying to obtain technology and utilise technology as much as they could. We have it on tap – we can email, Instagram each other and tweet. Your connection is instant, it makes it very easy – maybe too easy – but I think it is an important part of being an artist now. If you don’t have a presence online or you don’t utilise the world of online to your advantage then, quite frankly, you are silly.
Is technology important in a watch for you?
Absolutely. I’ve always been into good timepieces. I think having a watch doing all the things you need it to do is a very important thing. G-Shock watches are really good – I’m not just saying that.
Are there any functions on the G-Shock watch that you find particularly useful?
I wouldn’t know where to start. Having the ability to tell time in different parts of the world when you are travelling is a great thing. So that’s a big help for me as I’m always travelling. I also do like a stopwatch feature as I run a lot.
How does G-Shock fit into your personal style?
When I was looking through the G-Shock look book, I saw about 50 watches that I thought: “Yeah, I could wear those.” I think it goes hand in hand with cool trainers; if you wear a luminous yellow T-shirt then people think, “Oh God” but if you have a cool watch, slightly flamboyant and colourful, or you have bright shoes or trainers, then it’s not as big a statement.
Did you grow up with Casio?
I did. I had my first Casio watch when I was about six years old. It was my first digital watch. Later I had a calculator one. It was a big brand, growing up in the 70s. And still a great brand. It’s quite interesting how Casio has adapted throughout the years.
Check out more of Remi's work here.