If you haven’t come across of the work of Remi Rough recently you might be living under a rock. This London based Artist seems to have his hands in everything from murals, galleries, music and running one of the most groundbreaking projects out there Agents of Change. A true Renaissance man, although he might disagree with that title, he is talented in many aspects of Art. I had the chance to finally meet Remi when he had his first US exhibition of his work at the famous White Walls gallery. Luckily we were able to pull him off the hanging and painting of the show for a bit and we got to paint a wall together. Here is brief interview i had with him as i asked him some questions about himself and his work.

How would you describe Remi Rough?

Remi:Remi is me. The Nerd, the collector, the person behind the scenes who works up the ideas… Rough is the artist, curator, Captain, the person who puts things into action and holds the flame as an Agent Of Change.

So where does Remdog fit into this equation?

Remi:Remdog is like Remi’s and Rough’s evil cousin, who blankly refuses to conform and consequently he makes music without the rules of conformity.

So you are also a Musician as well as an Artist, how do you balance these two different art forms and do they overlap or influence each other?

Remi: I don’t see myself as either a musician or an artist, just as a creative with different outlets.

You also mentioned Agents of Change explain to me in more detail what this project is about, and what it means to you.

Remi: Agents of Change is a collective entity, it’s not about styles or individuals, it’s about process and collaboration. Agents is a hub for us all to explore ideas with good people who can either help things forward or rein them in.

That makes sense, when i Joined Transcend we had a similar objective. It is good to see artists thinking outside of the box as far group projects and collectives. So talk about how you started graffiti, and how you have now transitioned into the style you are currently working in. Was this a thought out process where you wanted to get more abstract or more of an evolution?

Remi: Graffiti came along at an integral point in my life. That art of rebellion, so fraught with rules and traditions… I guess i reached a point where things had to abstract in order to move on… I see so much graffiti steeped in nostalgia and conformity. I just don’t have any affinity with that anymore, I see it and my mind is completely numbed to it. If an artist has been painting for 25 years like myself, I expect to see some kind of progression. So i don’t think the abstraction of my artwork was premeditated, it was much more of a necessity. The Beatles made Revolver and The White Album when they’d reached a point where they had to abstract from the 3 minute love songs they were making up until then. Art has no rules and Graffiti should have even less…

Well said this is a topic that i myself can go on for days about, and i couldn’t agree more with your response. So tell me about the Book project and what went into that is it something you might do again or is it as difficult as some suggest.

Remi: The book was an itch that needed to be scratched… similarly I’ve had a lot of writers ask me if it’s full of old pieces and I have to say no… It’s about me now, not then… most of those walls were terrible. I’m still learning now but feel in a comfortable enough zone to appreciate my mistakes. And yes doing a book is a complete nightmare… I must have spent 4 months going through images for it and most didn’t even make it to the short list… Make a book that reflects your best work, not some crap you did in the Eighties and Nineties… That’s my take on it anyways.

Well ill make sure to Link it for people that want to see, what in my opinion a real book about a writer should look like. So i have been seeing a large amount of work recently from you in Galleries and Art shows. Whats your opinion of the Art world and Gallery Scene.

Remi: Most people don’t have access to art unless they see it on the news or on a biscuit tin. As a public artist I can coax people into galleries from work I do on walls in the public eye. The art world is a scary place to work but a great place to visit and people like us have the ability to make it less scary… Galleries are just shops at the end of the day and there’s nothing scary about most shops.

I can see that perspective, but I myself am not ready to jump fully into the galleries without a legitimate group of work. I have the same respect as i do for anything, its serious business and i appreciate when artists like yourself pour everything into it for us to enjoy. A couple of more questions, how would you describe the difference between American Abstract Graffiti, and European Abstract and is there a difference?

Remi: I think mindsets can work along the same linear paths… I saw Transcend’s work many year ago and immediately felt drawn towards it. similarly, what Kofie or Retna do or even more figurative abstract artists like Kaws do is just plain rebellion in my eyes… Futura, Dondi, Rammelzee, A One, Jon One, these guys were breaking the rules within the rules decades ago. people are just maintaining the equilibrium of rebellion… I love what Kofie is doing and also Jose Parla, these guys are in the big league in terms of style and process. I guess there is little difference other than the subtleties. Government, environment and economy etc… but the art all says a similar thing to me… ‘Don’t conform!’

I can feel a change taking place currently almost a shift of sorts, styles come and go but i legitimately feel that the work of people like you mentioned Kofie, Parla, yourself is about to take off. I also think that there is a coming movement about to take place. For myself I felt it when we painted that wall together in San Francisco, Social Media and other technologies are going to make it easier for us to collaborate across continents. That wasn’t possible before. Where do you see things moving in this next decade.

Remi: I hope so… the figurative world has been done to death… there’s few figurative artists I truly dig, System and Jaybo, Best Ever… But work by artists like Marco Grassi and Kofie is traveling it’s own path… I think people are really beginning to dig the abstract vibes going on in the world, and yes people can say Futura did it first, but I know firsthand Fu is glad he’s not alone anymore… As for where it’s going? I think digital film is the way forward, artists don’t just take photos of artwork now, they film it, edit it into little virals and show process… Finished artwork is dying a death… people are excited about process now. Damn! I’m excited about process…. Long live process……

Haha.. I also agree with that. There is one thing that concerns me, and recently it came about and that is Band-wagoner’s, or Biters that come in for quick fame off of what people like you, or Joker have started and paid dues to create. I am all for influence but at what point do you call out people that are taking style without permission. As an Artist we cant do much there are no laws or street code like in graffiti. I would hate to see the originators, and artists that stuck there neck out for there art be sidestepped for an artist that thinks, or is doing this style as a fad. Your thoughts?

Remi: Haha. karma is a bitch… i love a good biter and a good biter is hard to find… Me and Joker used to look at each others work and we were using similar methods… So we started doing things together so people knew. people knew our wavelength was stronger than any imitators. and from that process we both splintered in to very different directions. If someone can take my artwork and do something great with it, I fully endorse it, but I think we both know the chances of that are slim. Someone once said to me, you best be tight if you plan to bite…

Haha, that’s a good one, i just hope we can have some great original abstract artists push this movement not some random style imitators, but i guess we cant stop it even if we wanted to. And like you I only hope they do something original with it one day. That being said i think we covered many subjects, anything you want to mention or talk about? Also i would like to have your definition of Graffuturism?

Remi: I just want to say thanks to every artist, viewer and biter who’s followed what we do… Beware the ‘No beginning, No end’ show with myself and Jaybo this Summer… and look out for Steve More, he’s going to be BIG!!! I’ve also heard rumors that I may be in Portland before the year’s out… but shhhhhhh…. oh and GRAFFUTURISM… it’s like Graf from the future, but with an ISM…

Thanks Remi for taking the time to answer all my long winded questions and rants.

Remi: You are more than welcome sir… I want to see you over this side of the ocean soon please too ok?

For sure ill try my best. Here are some links below for seeing more of this Multidimensional Creative Master Remi Rough.


Agents of Change

Remdog 2600 recordings

You can get his Book here