Interview with Remi Rough, artist.
We spoke with the renowned street artist, Remi Rough, about his collaboration with the Scotch whisky brand, Haig Club. Read on to find out what inspired Remi’s design, his dream collaborations and an exclusive sneak-peak into some of his exciting future projects.
How would you describe your artistic practice, and can you share which piece of art you have recently enjoyed creating?
My practice is mainly painting. I work with math and geometry to create bold and colourful compositions on various surfaces like ply, handmade paper and linen. Surface is hugely important to me as it was when I was a young graffiti writer and most of my work was on either brick or concrete. My affinity for architecture also stems from my tenure as a graffiti writer. There is still a strong gestural movement to my work even though it is predominantly hard-edged. Most recently, I painted a minimalist private mural commission on a gable end of a two-story house in South London. I left a large part of the original brickwork exposed and it gave my work a very different feeling. It was a great project and I think will take my work in a new direction.
How did the collaboration with Haig Club come about? Did you have a favourite part in collaborating with the brand?
Somebody from Haig Club had either seen or knew of my work and they felt it would be a good fit for their brand and the project. They contacted me towards the end of last year. I think undoubtedly working with the Haig Club team and Team Beckham was my favourite part, they were all amazing and so generous with their time and energy. Obviously, having a drink of the final product was lovely too as it’s a really nice whisky.
How was it different creating art for a brand versus creating work for yourself / for your collectors?
It was quite hard actually. We had to pretty much completely reconfigure the printing process for a start as the printer colours were too dull to reproduce my vibrant palette. Once we got over that hurdle it became a little easier and then we just worked on the composition for the artwork on the bottle. The bottle is already quite a thing of aesthetic beauty so we had to work around mainly figuring in the branding so that it didn’t feel like the artwork was an afterthought. It’s a different process to creating work for myself or my collectors as I had to constantly consider the brief and work through it with other people. Fortunately, the entire Haig Club team were amazing to work with and to be honest really listened to my ideas and concepts.
How did you prepare for the collaboration?
I just researched the brand as much as I could and looked at some other brand collaborations so as to not approach it in the same way I guess… I wanted my approach to be as unique as possible. The proofing stage was the hardest as we went through over 20 proofs to get to our final sign off. I can be a bit of a perfectionist sometimes but it’s worth the pain I think.
Can you tell us what inspired the design of the bottle?
I would have to say the Haig Club bottle itself. I created brand new artwork for it and made it so that it worked on just the bottle alone. I didn’t want to use any previous ideas. I felt it had to be 100% specifically for that and that alone. I wanted to make something that was almost too beautiful to drink. I think most of the people who bought it have kept it full.
When you choose to work with a brand, what do you consider to be the most important part of the collaboration?
The synergy. I get approached by a lot of brands to collaborate and I usually turn them down because I have to have some kind of synergy with the brand and product. I think it makes an artist quite vulnerable to work with brands and so the brand has to resonate with me. I don’t do things just for the sake of it. I have to have an affinity with a brand to even be able to consider how my work will sit with their product. I also think the people are an important aspect and getting to a place where both the brand and the artwork have an equal presence is really important to me.
What did you learn from the collaboration?
Patience for the right outcome, definitely… I’m glad we went through such an exhaustive and long proofing stage as the end product was exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s also nice to engage and work with other people and have something that you’ve all been part of creating and lastly the engagement from people who bought the bottles was amazing, and I think I learnt a little more about what people want from a brand collaboration like this.
If you could collaborate with any other brand, who would it be?
I have some design concepts I did for some Remi Rough Adidas NMD shoes which I would love to see become a reality. I would also love to collaborate with an Airline and paint or wrap an aeroplane in my artwork. But again it would have to be the right company. I’d say British Airways because I always fly with them where I can. I’d also love to design a basketball court. I’ve seen some fantastic ones recently and always think I could do something quite interesting with that surface.
Are you working on any other exciting projects that you can share with us?
I have an absolutely massive project waiting for me in Jacksonville, Florida USA with ArtRepublic Global. It’s painting a massive motorway flyover. Covid has delayed it by over 14 months but hopefully, we can get started on it towards the end of the year. It’s going to be pretty special I believe. I have also been invited to exhibit at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition this year which is quite exciting. And then there are the other ones I’m not allowed to tell you about at the moment unfortunately but watch this space…
About the artist:
Born in London, Remi Rough is known for his use of bold colours, geometric shapes and abstract compositions. He is a self-trained artist, beginning at the age of fourteen when he started style writing (Graffiti). He has previously exhibited in galleries across the world and has been commissioned to create site-specific works in a number of cities, including London (Wembley Stadium) and Hong Kong (Morning Dynamics at Art Basel). Remi lives with his wife Michelle, who is an author, and 17-year-old daughter Lili
©HaigClub ©Remi Rough