Rhys Brown's practice turns the traditional Japanese Gyotaku printing technique to somewhat less traditional subjects: soft toys. The output of this extremely technically challenging process is this pair of nostalgic and uplifting prints that will bring joy to any collector. Here, we chat with Rhys about his artistic journey, influences, and his exclusive new prints for artrepublic, Jaxson and Little Jaxson


AR: What was the driving force behind you wanting to become an artist? 

The very first squash print I made was back in 2012 at uni, all because I didn’t want to do metal etching. So I ended up squashing a bear in a 200 year old roller press using International Klein Blue. I wanted to recreate that same original simple look. 

AR: How have you developed your style?

The squash paintings have been my main style for the past 2 years, I’ve had 2 shows with them and sold internationally. More recently I’ve been drawing on top of them giving them Batman’s outfit or giving them simple different coloured features using oil pastels. I see the squash series similar to Damien Hirst's spot paintings in the sense every painting is unique even if they look almost identical. The placement of fur or ink coverage creates an endless path of unique paintings.

 AR: What/who are your biggest influences? Artists or otherwise

I’ve always loved Yves Klein’s idea of the colour of the infinite and his Anthropometries paintings which share similarities to the squash series, except I use toys instead of women.

I’ve always been a huge Warhol fan but, as I’ve grown more, I’d have to say Robert Rauschenberg has always been my favourite artist. My work may not reflect my love for his screenprinted paintings at the moment but, I feel like they are building up to it slowly.

 AR: How has your life and experiences influenced your artwork?

I’ve always had coloured pencils and felt tips around me my whole life, my mum was always doing creative things with me growing up which I guess inspired me to want to become an artist. In secondary school I got really into doing graffiti and writing silly stuff on walls. I’d often document silly things I’ve heard and write them where I heard them. One of my all time favourites was “I love you but, I love the dog more” which was part of an argument where the person on the phone literally said “It’s me or the dog”! After that, I sort of just got into making a mess and annoying my art teacher in college. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do at that point, but I did know I wanted to be an artist.

 AR: What’s your earliest art memory?

When I was a kid, I used to go through my nanny, Pats art magazines and antique catalogs. She used to work for the London city and guilds art school when I was really little. I remember as a kid looking through a Warhol book not really understanding it, but I always remember seeing a pink soup can.

 AR: How did it feel when you sold your first artwork?

It felt really strange because I used to give a lot of my work away. I guess making people smile used to be my form of payment. I remember Charley (Pure Evil) telling me off for giving my work away back in 2014.

 AR: What’s your favourite art piece (music, art, film)?

David Hockney’s Bigger Splash is my all time favourite artwork. The splash in contrast to the clean painted lines is just... beautiful.

 AR: What’s next?

I have a ton of ideas, but a lot of them require me to be rich first! At the moment, I’m playing with the idea of painting on soft toys as in treating them like canvases and I am guessing working on more squash cloud paintings. I’m hoping to make a huge cloud painting the size of my studio wall in the next few weeks.


To check out Rhys Brown's work, click here!