RUDE portarit, rupert and abi
RUDE portarit, rupert and abi

Meet'em: RUDE Studio


They animate, they draw & they love making stuff.

Rude (abbreviation for RuDesign) Studio is a London-based studio formed by Rupert and Abi, husband and wife. They have a passion for print, mark-making and hand drawn fonts. Abi and Rupert are telling us how they have scaled up to a (family) business.

They met when working at a design agency and later started their own enterprise as a clothing label in 1999. Their studio has evolved a great deal since, championing their illustrations in fashion, posters, animation and applied graphics. This year the studio has turned 20 years and they will be part of the judge group for the London Illustration Fair.

CHIMPAN: I’d like to congratulate you on your bravery and dedication. Starting a business just before the 2000’s supposed world end shows serious devotion! Was the decision of starting a clothing label out of passion for fashion or financially oriented?

Rupert: At the time no one was screen printing good illustrations onto T-shirts. We loved drawing and wanted to see if we could sell our work on a product and T-shirts was the easiest product for us to make. We later went onto making other pieces of clothing as well, but now we sell our work as art, making less products.

Shop Portrait

C: Chicken or the egg question here. Which came first, partners or business partners?

R: We were actually business partners first, and we had worked together at a design company in west London, but we very quickly joined everything together!

C: Talk us through how you got your business up and running. Did you start working from home or did you set up a studio straight away?

R: We’ve always had a studio, we firmly believe that you have to separate the two things out. So, we took a space on Great Portland Street in the middle town, back then London was more affordable. It’s harder now starting out as everything has gotten so expensive.

C: Was there a “scaling up” moment for Rude Studio? Or perhaps several?

R: It just grew quite organically but at the heart of it is our love for creativity. Over the years we have employed people, and now we use freelancers if the job is too big for both of us. We had a shop, and now just work out of our studio.

Rude's first advert
Rude Studio's first advert

C: Your imagery is very vibrant and certainly has a core element of fun to it. How do your clients characterise your style when approaching you?

R: A client is often looking for something a bit different, with character. We have a style which is often hand drawn, and we go for bright colours which pop.

C: How would you describe your general approach towards a new endeavour? Is there a line drawn between what’s for fun and for a project? How do you draw that line?

R: We tend to go all out on everything, and generally because a client is coming to us, they know what they are going to get. If a piece of work is pared back too much, it often loses its energy and sometimes the project might fall apart. No there is no line, we go all out fun, if something get knocked back and is too conservative we don’t go ahead with it.

C: Are you still feeling the same thrill as when you started? How do you measure it?

R: Yes of course, we LOVE creating work…and then sharing it with people. I suppose it is measure in how happy we fell about what we are doing. “Is the work creative enough, does is have a feel good message?”

Abi and sons pictured. colourful mural art on background
From the Ground Up, for Workspace. Abi and their sons pictured.

C: Tell us about a particular lively episode in the studio.

R: Do you mean a party!? We work in a lovely place called The Chocolate Factory which is N16, we have two open studio events a year and on the Friday night we have a party. In recent years they have been quite subdued but back in the day we would party all night (when we were a lot younger!).

C: Do you have any advice for artists/designers that want to scale up and take their practice further?

R: You have to be passionate about what you do and accept that it’s not an easy path. It’s a bit like being a musician, and it’s in your blood.

THE BIG APPLE spelling poster
Big Apple poster

Interested in seeing more of Rude Studio? Make sure to visit their website or pop them a follow on instagram. Amazing work there!


More interviews?

The phrase scaling up carries several meanings. You’ve just read how RUDE Studio scaled up to a (family) business. Now, H E X Prints has a very unique opinion on scaling up and finding a more personal approach, whereas Donk is helping us explore a more literal sense.