Friday, May 17, 2013

Time For: Funny Tummy

He's one of the most exciting talents working in art today; Funny Tummy has created mixtape covers for most of the UK Rap and Grime scene and recently created Angels' cover art. Not only that, but he's already painted Rihanna, Tinie and Ed Sheeran, and, with an exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall this month, we predict things are only going to get a lot more, ahem, colourful (Ed: groan) for this 27 year-old painter, photographer, artist and producer.

When did you first develop an interest in art and when did you decide that you wanted to make a career out of it?
I first developed an interest in art at about three of four years old. A lot of people in my family do art so as a child it was always around me. My brother did art, my mother is a designer, and my parents used to take me to art galleries from about the age of 5. When I realised I was good at art, I wanted to pursue it as a career.

Who are some of your influences?
When I was a kid, I was influenced by comic book art but right now I tend not to look at other's art so the only things that influence me is what I see around me and not what other artists create.

How would you describe your style?

What was your 'big break'?
When Rihanna requested the painting I did of her; that's when a lot of people came to know about my art. 

Can you give us a list of your highpoints so far? How have those moments changed your career?
So far, the highpoints have been... Rihanna requesting the portrait I did of her, the Royal Albert Hall solo exhibition, the Tate Modern hyperlink.

Who do you want to paint next?
I'm no longer focusing on portraits unless they have been commissioned. So the next portrait I do will depend on whom ever orders the portrait.  

You're known for your mixtape art and now your portraits, yet you're also a photographer and producer. Is there an overall Funny Tummy aesthetic?
No matter what I'm doing, whether it be photography, art or music the overall ethos is be different and always deliver quality.

You're part of the Renowned team with Wretch, Jacob and George. What are you offering to contemporary culture as a team? What do you all have in common, artistically/ creatively?
I think what I offer is my versatility. I'm able to create an album cover for Wretch or Jacob and then also able to do photography for the above at their live performances and all this while still producing art for future exhibitions and sales. 

You showed at the Tate and now you have a show upcoming at the RAH, which is amazing. Congrats. Black artists are severely underrepresented in art, but do you feel like that's changing?
Because I don't view others work, I'm not sure what other artists are doing or how many black artists are currently getting the recognition they deserve.

What are your ambitions? 
The goal is to do solo exhibitions in the USA and over Europe and Asia. I also plan to release an art book and furniture. 

What's the toughest part of your job? What's been the toughest decision you've had to make so far?
Luckily I don't have any challenges and I've never had to make a tough decision.

Where can people catch you next?
People can catch my artwork at the Royal Albert Hall from 1 June, and it runs for 6 weeks.

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