Known for his exuberant style, balancing geniality with end-of-the-pier bawdiness and offbeat charm, Boogaloo Stu's irresistible artworks are full of colour, optimism, and sparkling vintage lurex.
We had a catch up with Boogaloo Stu as he dropped off his artworks at Enter Gallery...
Tell us about your journey to becoming an artist…
Whatever I’ve been doing in my life as a performer over the past three decades, I would always try to include a reason to draw, paint or illustrate something within a project. From risqué hand-drawn badges, via cartoon club flyers and fanzines, to full-scale stage sets; I always made sure there was a conspicuous visual aspect to my work that gave me an excuse to bring my ideas to life.
What inspires you?
As a child of the '70s, my biggest inspirations emerged in that era. Aside from the master craftsmen of Pop Art and psychedelic illustration, I’m actually particularly drawn to trippy commercial products from the time; Belinda Lyon tea-towels, Peter Max inflatable pillows, Milton Glaser album sleeves, Crystal Tipps & Alistair cartoons, Barbara Brown textile designs. I’ve absorbed it all, and now I’m spewing it back out in splashy technicolour!
How do you create your original pieces?
My dioramas are all hand-made by me in my art studio, and are all one-off pieces. They start off as endless doodles in sketchbooks which are then drawn as large-scale elements in pencil and ProMarker. Once I’m happy with the design and content, I figure out the structure and construction, and then all the parts are printed. The Giclée prints are really delicate and it’s vaguely terrifying having to cut and glue them together in layers to create the 3D effect. Everything has to be precisely positioned to then slot into a hand-made box frame. The whole process is very time-consuming, but the overall effect is of something that I hope looks beautiful and quite unique.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Every day is different; I don’t have any set routine. During the day, you might find me working on artworks in my basement studio, but equally I could be creating a new Boogs look from the vintage ‘70s lurex fabrics I’ve found on Etsy, or writing and rehearsing material for a show. I’ve also been hosting quite a few online events from there, so it has become a very multifunctional space.
Where can we see you perform?
I’ve just finished a run of shows at Brighton Spiegeltent as part of Brighton Fringe. It was a delight to be back in front of a real life audience again. Over the summer I’ve got various events coming up, which I’m hoping will still be able to happen; all of my forthcoming events are listed on my site.
What do you think art adds to a home?
It’s a personal statement; I think what you choose to display on your walls says quite a lot about who you are.
What words do you try to live your life by?
Too much is never enough is a motto I’ve often applied to my work. I’m very much a maximalist, so chuck more on, why not?
What do you love about Brighton?
Brighton is a unique microcosm. It’s compact enough to walk everywhere, and you’ll see people you know along the way. The worlds of music, theatre, drag, tech, fashion, film, art and much more besides can all intermingle. As a place, it’s small enough for everyone to find their tribe, but it’s also big enough to cater to them all.
This is the first time you have had your work in an art gallery. How does it feel to have your work exhibited alongside other artists?
I didn’t set out to do this with any particular goal. Initially, I was just making art pieces to hang on my own walls - and it has developed from there over the past year. So it’s exciting now to see them in the gallery among all the other gorgeous works. And imagine my delight, to find myself sandwiched between Banksy and Peter Blake on your site! It’s a joy.