Rum Knuckles: The Interview

Wednesday 6th March 2013 | Osh

Rugman is behind this UK street artist/ designer, heavily influenced by skateboarding culture he has been gaining interest from artists such as Joey Bada$$, Maverick Sabre and Bashy to name a few. We caught up on the meaning behind the brand, working in New York and his new collection.

Hey! So firstly what is the story behind the brand?
Rum Knuckles is a brand built to transcend music, culture and sports.  A brand built on good graphics, the brand was created by myself after working in the industry for 13 years and deciding to go it alone. I aim to connect with the grittier side of street culture and streetwear with a British stamp.

Tell us a bit about your creative background, did you study art and design?
Yes I studied Textile Design at Chelsea Art School, I suppose though my real creative background started back when I was skating with my older brother in the early 80's. The whole culture influenced me especially the graphics on the skate decks themselves. Brands such as Powell, Santa Cruz and Zorlac really laid the foundations of my creative life.

What are your biggest influences?
There are so many but I would have to say skateboarding culture in general any Zorlac graphic, Black Flag, Club Flyers, my great friend Dave Little who designed some of the best Club flyers of the 80's and 90's punk and hip hop and artists such as Dave Kinsey, Peter Blake, Richard Hamilton, Mel Ramose and graffiti art.

Is it true that the name ‘Rum Knuckles’ comes from your great uncle who was a bare knuckle fighter?
My great uncle was indeed a prize fighter and in general a great fighter, a gentle man though who would never go out looking for a fight but at the same time never walk away from one. I had grown up learning about this character through stories from my dad and family, he was a legend in my town and always wanted to use his nickname Rum Knuckles.
You worked over in New York for a while for a London based textile house, how was that experience. Did you gain a lot from this?
I gained a massive amount from this I wouldn't say creative wise but more in being in a place where things happen and a place I've always admired and wanted to be. Getting high and going out and meeting like minded people in a city like New York has influenced me a great deal and shaped my thoughts on where I wanted to take my creative life.

You have had some love off Joey Bada$$, Maverick Sabre and Bashy to name a few. Is it mad when you see artists rocking your garms?!
It's great to see your work on famous people but to be honest I would be just as happy passing a skate park and seeing a little skater kid rocking Rum long as people like and wear.

You can see that you’re passionate about art and drawing, but what do you hope to achieve with the label? What do you want people to take away from it?
Well I always hope that passion comes through and people understand this is a brand, a brand that will last and have the edge to outlast any trends. My main goal has always been to create a brand that will transcend music, culture and sports such as skateboarding and BMXing and respected in different circles a great example of this are Vans and Stussy, in my mind the two greatest brands ever!

Do you ever go and bomb the streets with your art?
I now have two young kids and a business to run which leaves me less time to do this,  I believe if you're going to do this you need to dedicate time and really go for it you need to be prolific. I see my graphics on T- Shirts as an extension of street art and feel in its own way it gets my art on the streets.

You have a signature style of drawing women, would you say you are a ladies man! Or were a ladies man?
I suppose if you asked my wife she would say I was a ladies man, but I am now happily married with two daughters, infact now there's too many woman in my life haha!

I watched the video of you getting the RK Skull tattoo! How many have you got and have you a favourite?
I have seven tattoos, I particularly like the RK skull as its my brands logo.

Can you remember the first design that you made for ‘Rum Knuckles’
I think it was either Bendy or Shy.

You were recently featured on Hypebeast, that must have been a big achievement?
That was a massive achievement and yeah I was very happy, I think as an artist the goal is to get your stuff out there as much as possible internationally and they doesn’t get any bigger than Hypebeast.

Have you any exhibitions coming up?
I have an exhibition booked for the end of July at the Purvey gallery in New York, New Jersey.

What’s the best bit of advice that you've been given and from who?
Never ever give up always finish what you started, whether that's a painting or a pint of lager my old man told me that.

What’s next for Rum Knuckles, what does 2013 have in store and what should we be looking out for?
The new collection is packed with new graphics and a couple of new pieces including a new Varsity jackets which looks wicked. We are also now doing capsules collections with artists coming up in the summer.

Cheers for your time, we are loving your stuff!

For more information on the Rumknuckles brand contact / Twitter @HaddonPR

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Words by Tab Taylor @tiptoptab