This Is Me: Ruth Joyce

UK artist, illustrator and boardsports lover Ruth Joyce shares her passion for movement, pens and romance

Interview by Anna Langer

I have a very vivid memory from when I was about 5 or 6, sitting in the playground of my primary school. A group of us were drawing a Tom and Jerry design from the cover from a pencil tin and I remember thinking ‘oh, mine is quite good’. It seems I have not been able to put the pens down ever since, and for that I am eternally thankful to that battered little pencil tin.

My early start and love for drawing meant I couldn’t ever imagining doing anything that wasn’t creative. No matter where I’ve been or what I’ve been working at to pay the rent, I have doggedly carried on pushing my artwork, honing my style, making contacts, taking on commissions. Basically, as my very wise dad says, I have to work an 8 day week.

No matter where I’ve been or what I’ve been working at to pay the rent, I have doggedly carried on pushing my artwork

I’ve loved extreme sports in all its forms for a long time; as an artist, watching how people move when they skate or surf or snowboard just blows me away. The ferocity and sheer craziness of the athletes inspires me, and I love the challenge of trying to translate the amazing things they do on to paper.

Making something of yourself in the creative world can be very tough, and often a little deflating. When I was an eager 14 year old I visited a local artist with my dad to ask him for advice, imagining that I would leave inspired. Yet this man, who had begun a framing company, merely gave me a gloom and doom speech about how we all try but we all fail and I should get a real job. I left feeling angry that any adult would crush a teenager’s creative spirit, and I swore that whether I made anything of my art or not, I would give it a bloody good go and have as much fun as possible in the process. Oh, and not to make teenagers cry when I'm an adult.

I have always been a hopeless romantic, but probably in a bit of a twisted way. Quite a lot of my art focuses on love and beauty in some form, but often with a sort of dark undertow. Perhaps it comes from what I view as romance - give me a fluffy teddy or a flower and I’ll probably puke. Take me to a place I mentioned once that I like or buy me a paint brush, well, then I’m a goner.

Capturing movement on paper is one of the key reasons why I love sports so much; it’s a fantastic challenge. My drawing and painting is quite organic and quick - I don’t slavishly and precisely draw out a figure or a bike or a wave, as then the spontaneous nature of it is lost. My favourite technique is putting pen to paper and not taking it off again till I’m finished the drawing - it’s a combination of having to think very quickly and naturally while you draw and planning carefully what you will focus on. I love that.

Describing your own style is always difficult, but I would say my work is vibrant and edgy, and whereas at times it can be quite dark, it is always full of energy and passion. Expressing a feeling a movement and life, whether in a negative or positive way, is ultimately what my style aims to capture.

Beauty is a tricky thing to define, but I see beauty in happiness, in someone who is totally at ease in themselves.

I don’t know if many people really have their dream job, but mine would be to draw and paint while including travel. Travelling to great places and seeing awesome things have been a great inspiration up to now, and being able to do that more would be a dream.

I genuinely believe the world would be a better place if people cared more about art. The nature of social media means people have fairly short attention spans, and odd gimmicks become popular for even odder reasons. Art, any kind of art, demands attention and thought. Even if it’s a bad thought or it brings out feelings of dislike, that is still a valid and very real reaction.

The idea of beauty, or what we consider beauty, fascinates me. It’s a tricky thing to define, but I see beauty in happiness, in someone who is totally at ease in themselves. I find it in nature, in adventure, in challenge. Oh, and hair and tattoos. I bloody love painting hair and tattoos.