In the words of Roo
"Roo has a crew. It consists of mostly animals, which vary in mood and personality. Some are friendly and others will eat you."
After seeing Roo's incredible artwork there was only one thing for it, she had to become one of our exceptionalists.
Not only is her artwork simply breathtaking but it's incredibly thoughtful as well.
We sat down with Roo to find out what inspires her and what makes her tick.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was growing up, I used to sometimes fly out to visit my Dad and stay at his flat in Paris. I loved visiting him and I have fond memories of our favourite restaurant where the pizzas were so big they spilled right over the plate and the mint chocolate mousse was 'all you could eat’!
My parents got divorced when I was about 7 or 8 and so when we visited, my two older brothers and I would fly out to see him as ‘unaccompanied minors'.
We used to find that quite an exciting part of the trip. The stewardesses would chaperone us and we’d be given kid's activity packs to keep us occupied during the flight. I kept one of the little activity books from ‘British Airways’ from all those years ago. It was dark blue, had their logo imprinted on the front and was full of activities and questions like, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I wrote that I wanted to be an Artist.
I’d also written that my favourite animals were bats and cats, which isn’t true, but I expect I wrote that so I’d have a reason to use the cute bat and cat stickers I had in my rucksack! I’ve always enjoyed drawing and have loved animals since I can remember. At one stage I wanted to be a vet, but when I realised that I was pretty rubbish at science and learnt what being a vet really involved, I quickly changed my mind.
When did you fall in love with what you do now and how did you get started?
Looking back, I’ve always loved art. I used to add lots of illustrations and colour to my School work. On a couple of occasions my teachers told me to stop as it distracted from the work, but I just couldn’t understand the harm. After School, I studied Graphic Design up until completing a degree in it, although I think I would have done better if I’d followed Illustration. At the time, I considered Graphic Design to be a more sensible career path.
After Uni I took on a job at my brother’s company for a while as an assistant, delivering urban art workshops. It was then that I found like-minded Artists that had already been painting graffiti for many years, so started to paint with them and really get into spray painting. I also started created drawings onto canvas, clothing and other products and offered customised designs for people too.
What I really enjoy about doing art is the diversity of commissions and projects I get. I create murals, illustrations, digital art, graphic design and I teach. It’s pretty hard to get bored. I still think drawing sketches with a pencil will always remain a favourite part for me, which is great because it’s usually how I start all my designs.
What difference are you striving to make in the world? (big or small, it all counts)
I’ve managed to blend my two interests in life by creating animal-based artworks, but my goal is now to work more with and support companies that help animals.
Although I’m sure my artwork will always be evolving, I still feel like there is something missing in what I do and there must be something more that I can do in this world. I’d love to make a difference and make a positive impact on the lives of as many animals as possible.
I really like working with organisations that have ethical values and a focus to care for the environment, as it’s all significant in protecting wildlife.
Any upcoming projects you’re excited about?
I’m excited to say I have some projects in the pipeline with a Dog Rescue, but I can’t say what it is yet. Watch this space!
What do you do to prep for a new project or adventure?
I’m very methodical when it comes to organisation, as I like to be as prepared as possible. In terms of prepping to paint a mural, this includes having every colour of spray can carefully chosen, designs pre-crafted, lunch box packed and even clothes ready the night before! My mates laugh at me for my ultra-organisation, which I can see is a bit over the top, but I really like to be organised.
I know it has sometimes prevented me from experimenting with my artwork when I’m at the wall, so I’m trying to loosen up so I can make those happy mistakes more. Collaborating with other Artists has helped me to visualise how I can approach painting with less rules.
It’s funny because I think you can almost see my personality in the style of my work within the tidiness of the line work. I take a lot of care and attention to making things neat and precise!
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Working together to ensure everyone is equal and making sure others are looked after. Unfortunately, greed rules the world, but I believe we can make a difference by making one small change after the next.
I am striving to make steps towards making my Art more ethical and sustainable in terms of what I use and sell. As an example, I have started upcycling frames, making artworks from used spray cans, learning about the most environmentally friendly paints, such as low VOC (which has fewer harmful chemicals and a more easily biodegradable end product) and learning how much of what I use can be recycled.
I don't use any materials that contain animal products, as certain brushes, glues and other unsuspecting products do have them.
And I try to support other small businesses with good ethics!