Interview from Weed Girls with design artists: El Rughi


Interview from Weed Girls with El Rughi

WG: When did you discover your passion and your talent for design? Did you study it or was it something you were born?

ER:  My passion for design was born when I discovered the world of graffiti. As a child, I always liked to draw and play with colors, but it was when I saw my first painted wall that all this became a real obsession. In my town, in the south of Italy, and in the surroundings, there were not many graffitis, and life was quite boring. This gave us the possibility and the freedom to experiment and express ourselves the way we wanted. We had a lot of free time and many places to explore and paint, me and my colleagues wanted to create our little New York. When I finished my artistic high school I traveled to Europe, living in London, Berlin, Rome, and Barcelona. Thanks to these trips I met different artists related to the world of graffiti, street art, tattoo, and underground design and helped me to develop my unique graphic style. I enrolled in a comics career at an art school in Barcelona, ​​but I left it half-finished. After this experience, I began to mix the tools of sequential art to which I had already learned painting on the street. Right now I also dedicate myself to tattoos, graphics design, and serigraphy. But what always pushed me to go forward and what fills me the most is painting walls, it’s like a drug for me.

WG: Of all the visual art you have done, which one is your favorite?

ER:  Of all the visual art that I have created, I think my favorite is a mural that I made last August for the Dei Sensi Festival, in my town, Martina Franca. They asked me to do an artistic intervention for the festival and I singled out a disused tower of the electric company in a place that was quite an insight. The festival had water as its central theme and among all its activities there was a meeting with a rabdomante. For those who do not know the dowsing in an ancient practice to find water sources, a cane is used in the shape of “Y” or just the hand, to capture the vibrations of the subsoil and process them understand what is in it. It seems magic, and that’s why I loved it. It was hard work, the festival did not have much budget for the intervention and the infrastructure to do it was bad, but I wanted to do the same, delighted with the history of the rbdomante and the architecture of the tower. I did everything with sprays using a very low color range, but very characteristic of my works. Playing with the very architecture of the tower, I divided it into different spaces that represent each one a part of a symbol of the work of the rabdomante: a cane, a well, some aquatic plants, the pendulum, and the rabdomante himself that subgrade the whole with centric lines that represented the vibration with which he works. I liked this intervention very much for its size, for the mystical-magical theme, and for the final result that aesthetically resembles Tarot cards.

WG: Do you think that marijuana makes you more or less creative when it comes to making your artworks?

ER:  I’ve been smoking joints all my life, and marijuana has always helped me unleash mental and creative barriers that I put on when creating. I am convinced that marijuana will help you to flow freer and have less conventional ideas.

WG: And when it comes to creating your designs, do you work better when you’re high? Does art have any relationship with marijuana?

ER:  When it comes to creating, I work better when I’m high, even though sometimes being too high slows down your task force and may make you lose the initial sense of the work. I think that only a part of the art is related to marijuana, the wildest, psychedelic and introspective … but not all the art is related to this and many artists that I know, even though it seems that, Actually, they do not smoke marijuana..

WG: On what is your art mainly based? How would you describe it?

ER:  I can say that, in my art, my biggest influences have been classic graffiti, underground comics, and psychedelic culture. They have given me a stylistic visual file on which I then created my own style and my way of capturing my works. I always try to find inspiration in what surrounds me and what I live in each day, analyzing the reality and what it transmits to me and then converting it into what I want. I like to use saturated colors and strong contrasts, and fill empty spaces with psychedelic patterns and many mini-details.

I am a precursor of Horror Vacui. I’m bothered by the emptiness so I can not stand things all of one color. I think it’s something i took from the world of graffiti … the empty walls or all gray always seemed very sad and dead and just seeing them I always had a natural desire to paint them and give them life, to end their sadness.

Lately, I am having a lot of contact with young children, and this is leading me to use children’s forms and creatures in my works and, in many occasions, I literally copy graphic signs that I see children drawings and then use them in my compositions. I love the freedom and naturalness with which they act when painting or drawing.I don’t really know how to describe my artwork but the only time i liked it was when a USA street art blog defined it as “Children Friendly Psychedelic Drawings”.

WG: What do you think about involving religion in art?

ER: I am totally atheist and never followed any religion, even though I believe in a certain spirituality at an energetic level and I feel a certain attraction for magic in general. I believe that art can help you energetically to solve problems and tasks of your life. It is a daily practice that takes you in a space without reality or time. At the time of painting or drawing I end up in a state of pseudo trance and what is around me disappears as if by magic; all my worries, paranoia and sorrows are behind … it is the only thing in my life that gives me this feeling; apart sex I think.

More than religion I would speak of magic, art itself is magic.

WG: Tell us about the first time you tried marijuana. Who gave you to

try it? How was it? Did you like it?

ER: I tried marijuana for the first time when I was very small … I think I was 15-16 or around there. I do not remember very well my first time, I smoked too much to have any memory but I remember my first times. I was super fun with my friends of this time spend our afternoons smoking joints, doing music, painting, and dancing. I remember that I drew a lot this season and from the beginning, I started to take advantage of the effect of marijuana on my drawings. I loved it, and I still love it.

WG: What is your favorite marijuana strain?

ER:  Even though I smoke a lot, I’m not a fan of marijuana varieties, and I have a pretty old school mentality. At the time of catching marijuana in a cannabis club in Barcelona, I am lost among all the varieties and names that appear every day. I can tell you that I am fond of indica marijuana and hash because I am a hyperactive and you need something that keeps me quiet, and I don’t like the strains very strong and too many chemicals that are being made lately, nor the various extractions. I think that they are far from the effect that marijuana would have because of its naturalness, which is becoming almost like a hard drug.

WG: How has the receptivity of people to your art been? Have you had any negative comments?

ER: Normally, people love my art, even though I’ve had criticism but very few times. All children when passing in front of my wall or paint get so surprised, and this makes me super happy, is the only thing that really matters to me.

The few criticisms I received in my life have been to paint in places without permission, and then some seemed like visual violence, but this is what I always loved the practice of graffiti, the power to paint whatever you want where you want defying the laws of society. Whether you want it or not, you will see my work, because I put it before your eyes, in front of everyone’s eyes, without asking permission from anyone. It may be violence, but I love it.

WG: Do you have a ritual to smoke? Do you like to listen to some kind of music

specific or do it at any given time of the day?

ER: I  do not have a ritual when it comes to smoking, as I smoke joints all day and every day, it’s normal for me. I have a ritual only when I smoke hashish in chiloom. Then there if I like to do it in the traditional Shivaite way, sitting on the floor in circles, with a wet cloth of silk in the mouth of the chiloom, supporting it on the forehead by opening the third eye when smoking and always passing it to the right as of tradition. Even though I told you that I am surpassing this is the only pseudo-religious tradition that I like to maintain because I have many friends and I do it out of respect for them. I do not have specific music when it comes to smoking, I guess a little of everything really, but what I love most is black music, from the funky to the modern trap and all the music that has some psychedelics and acid in its sounds.

WG: We have seen that you create your own characters within your art, could we call them monsters? What do you inspire to create them?

ER: If so, I believe in the characters in my art, is something I learned studying the world of Comic. I prefer not to call them monsters because this entails the fact that they are disgusting and evil creatures, which is what I try to capture with my works. Better call them creatures. There are many of my friends who say that all my characters somehow resemble me, that they are like a sorta self-portrait, that in reality, each one represents a different part of my being, I do not know, they may be right.

To create them I am inspired by what I see (I always carry with me a notebook to make live drawing, especially in the subway I make quick portraits of people have an interesting or funny appearance), in the books and comic books I read, the movies I watch (I love science fiction, above all the post-apocalyptic-paranoid cyberpunk). Even in the several years of my artistic activity, I have collected a series of characters that are repeated several times such as a sad yellow super supersized cat called “El Gato Groc”, a more punky version of Mickey Mouse, a Mushroom with the face of old wise and various others. Many of my characters are accumulated by having a glasses with super colors reflections, a feature that I started to put in when I lived in Berlin when I defined my art as Psyberetnica and was very influenced by Steam-punk literature.

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