Often one of the four elements is a gateway to the rest – especially in the case of the stepchildren of hip-hop, b-boying and graffiti. For Rough/Remi, a schoolmate’s Electro 4 record was the beginning – “Break dancing and popping shortly followed,” says Remi, “and about two months later, I was witness to my first piece of graffiti on another record sleeve.”

After seeing seminal Cooper/Chalfant book, Subway Art, “my life was never the same,” says Remi. He drew his biggest influence from Futura, “mainly in attitude, not really style,” he says. “I just loved the way he broke the rules., but then I suppose there aren’t really any rules anyway?”


Perhaps – but Remi did break one cardinal rule early on – don’t get caught. He and two friends had just painted their first wall ever in South-east London. “We’d finished it in the daytime and walked back to my friend’s house,” says Remi. Problem was, his buddy couldn’t get his key in the door – just as the po-po were rolling around the corner. “Suffice to say, the next thing was three 13 year-old boy sitting in a police station office waiting for our parents to come and give us hell,” he remembers. “Surprising that I carried on after that, really!”

Remi also recently had the opportunity to work with a Subway Art contemporary featured in the companion film, Style Wars – Mare 139. “He and I totally clicked on the whole architectural thing,” says Remi – who counts architecture and design as his biggest influences. “So much so [that] we’re planning an architecture-based show for next year together.” Remi also recommends the work of Zaha Hadid and Antoni Gaudí – “those guys have pure style,” he says.


In 2000, Remi traveled to Perth, Australia with Juice 126 and System to paint a massive 33-metre long wall and do an exhibition alongside his good friend Stormie ADS. While painting a huge subway wall, Remi noticed debris falling from tiny drainage holes at the top. Stormie warned him to watch for redback spiders – they sometimes fall out of these drainage holes – and their bite can be fatal if not treated at a hospital in 30 minutes. “Then he told me, ‘By the way, we’re about an hour from the nearest hospital, so please try not to get bit!’” says Remi.

While crashing at Stormie’s, Remi and System were about to hit the hay one night when System spotted something big and black moving very quickly across the floor. “We turned on the light and went to war with the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen in my life!” says Remi. “System smashed it with his shoe and it practically exploded.” After sourcing a dustpan and brush to dispose of the corpse, when they returned the insect was gone. “How it managed to escape in its mangled condition is pure lunacy!”


Eager to sample the beaches, Stormie gave Remi this warning: if you can see dolphins about 60 to 100 metres away, you’ll be fine. “When I asked what he meant by this he told me that the sharks are scared of dolphins – so they won’t hang around if there are dolphins about,” says Remi. “All in all, Australia is an amazing country: beautiful beaches, hot sunny weather, millions of stars at night and cool, cool people…” he says. “But what the adverts don’t tell you is that there’s a host of insects and animals there just waiting for any golden opportunity to kill you!”

Nonetheless, Remi’s next exhibition is in Melbourne, Australia, at the Autopsy Gallery. He also has custom shoes being produced for J-Shoes and his book of black-book sketches, Rough Sketches, will be released later this year – peep a sneak-preview at

More Pictures:

Rick Kang

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  1. Remi/Rough is one of the finest innovators working in the genre today. Up since the mid 80’s, his work continues to inspire new jacks and his contemporaries alike.
    Big up.

  2. nazaradilworth says:

    i just wanted to say that secondpiece up there is amazing. everything is but i just love that second one

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