When it comes to sneakers, the Air Jordan 1 has often been used as a base for telling different stories and with its multilayered upper showcasing endless colour combinations and experimentations, this latest rendition takes things back to a more simplistic approach.
Based on the Air Jordan 1 Mid, this latest experiment seems to take inspiration from the world of art, in particular the artist’s themselves. The upper features a stripped back aesthetic that see’s a mixture of canvas like hues act as the base. The Swoosh remains intact however, on the lateral sides it has been torn away and in its place reveals an artist like brushstroke whilst hinting towards those more expressive painters, the design is completed with a splatter paint effect that covers the silhouette.
Taking this latest AJ1 out on to the streets of London, we caught up with street artist Remi Rough at his studio to learn more about himself, his art and how he got to where he is now. Take a closer look at Remi’s work below and to shop the Air Jordan 1 Mid ‘Brushstroke’, click here.
FP- Hi Remi, Hope you’re well, Could you start with telling us a little about yourself and the kind work you produce?
RR – I guess I make abstract compositions that originate from my days as a young graffiti style writer. I use those references of colour and dynamic to create pieces that fold in and over themselves. Two dimensional but with a three dimensional aesthetic. At the end of the day I’m just a painter though.
FP – All artists have influences, are there any significant creatives or even movements that were/are persuasive to you and the way you view/create art?
RR – Initially I was grabbed and swept along with the whole graffiti art invasion of the early 80’s. I tried to find as many references, books, magazines and literally anything else I could find. I met an artist called Juice 126 in 1989 and he was highly influential on my direction and trajectory and introduced me to a bunch of artists I didn’t know that well and really opened up my mind to experimentation. Another artist of that time who influenced me greatly is Stormie Mills, he’s like a big brother to me and his advice throughout my career has been invaluable. Later on I discovered the abstract expressionists and Suprematists and started to continue their legacy as it seemed so few other artists were on that tip. I am also very influenced by Graphic Designers like Vaughn Oliver and Designers Republic.
FP – Is there a preferred size you like working to? or even a favourite material?
RR – Not really, I love doing the big murals but I also love being in the studio and creating a piece on A5 paper… It all depends on how I’m feeling on that day. The smaller works more often than not reference the larger works so nothing goes to waste ever but both large and small affect me in different ways. Although doing the bigger walls is getting a little more tiring nowadays if i’m honest.
FP – How have you found working through the pandemic?
RR – To be honest It’s been absolutely fine. Everything seemed to go over the side of a cliff at first but bit by bit things came back and I managed to do some self initialised projects that helped carry me through. I also had a couple of nice commissions for local murals in my area and a great project with Haig Club and David Beckham which really helped me out. I also moved to a bigger studio almost exactly one year ago which has really helped me grow as an artist. I’ve not stopped working throughout the whole time and I think that’s benefited me greatly.
FP – In your opinion, how has graffiti culture changed?
RR – The essence of it hasn’t really changed but I think the knowledge and understanding of it has got lost dramatically. When I was a young writer you were entirely obligated to know, research and understand the history and trajectory of graffiti writing but nowadays most kids don’t even know what Subway Art is let alone own a copy. I don’t necessarily think it’s the most important thing in the world to know the backstory but it just gives the current scene a different spin. If we were all uber nerds about it I guess it might get a little boring…
FP – Do you endorse fashion and graffiti crossovers? Or do you think there should be certain types of art that shouldn’t leave the canvas?
RR – If things are done well I’m all for it, brands can help artists and projects come to life when arts funding is getting constantly cut and pulled. It’s nice to see brands putting into the arts. That said, I’ve seen some truly awful collaborations of late. I guess it comes down to trust and ideas in the end. The brands need to trust the artists they work with to be able to do their best possible work and the artists need to be able to bring the brands ideas to life. It can sometimes be really difficult. I’m really lucky in a lot of the brands I’ve done projects with. The Haig Club / David Beckham project I did recently was great! Awesome people to work with and they really let me do what I thought would have the best possible outcome. I think we ended up with a brilliant product and everyone was happy. It’s all about relationships and conversations too.
FP – You have a portfolio of spectacular work all over the globe, is there a location that has been the most memorable (and why?) AND are there any places you would like to revisit or even a place you haven’t been to put your stamp on it?
RR – Wow! How on earth do I answer that? I recently saw a meme that had over 50 countries listed and said if you’ve been to more than 10 of these countries you’re weird (or something like that). I’d been to 28! So it’s hard to choose a favourite place or project. I love going to the US, I have some incredible friends that I really miss over there. Moscow was incredible. I’ve been twice and it was a real culture shock, I absolutely love Hong Kong, easily one of my faves for sure. I guess I really would love to go and do a project in Japan. I have some great friends there too and have yet to go. It’s like my life’s dream to go there and my studio assistant recently went and literally bangs on about it every day haha.
FP – Can you tell us a bit more about the project ’The Dead Can Rap’
RR – TheDeadCanRap is a project myself and the amazing Mike Ladd started about 3 years ago. We used to tour together when I was in a band called Reptiles many years ago and remained good friends. We’d always send each other beats and sketches for music and then Mike said right! We’re going to call ourselves TheDeadCanRap and get this album done and we released our debut album last December. It features Open Mike Eagle, Nosaj and Malik Ameer and it got some amazing reviews and we managed to pick up a crazy fan base too. We’re currently working on the second album and have guests including Joan As Police Woman, RAP Ferreira, Roger Robinson and Tunde Adebimpe lined up for it. I love it to be honest. TDCR has really kept both Mike and I sane over the past couple of years. The album is out across all streaming platforms and we also made a small book with loads of graphics, photos and all the lyrics from the album.
FP – We appreciate you taking the time to show us around your studio and giving us a little insight into the world of Remi Rough! As the world continues to slowly open up, are there any upcoming exhibits of yours or mural locations we can visit?
RR – My absolute pleasure!! I have 2 pieces in the upcoming Royal Academy Summer Exhibition which opens 22nd September. I was invited to show my work by Humphrey Ocean RA and I am super excited about that as it’s a really big deal for me. I also have work in the upcoming Start Art Fair at Saatchi Gallery in a couple of weeks.
Mural wise, they’re all over the place. I have a few in East Dulwich near where I live and the biggest mural in Central London on the Megaro Hotel, in front of Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations that’s been there since 2012. There’s a couple in Walthamstow that I did for the Wood Street Walls project and others dotted around. I always think it’s way more fun to stumble across things like that than to be given too much of a clue.