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#roughsketches A collection of blackbook sketches from 1996 to 2013 by Remi Rough

I started this book back in 2006 and rediscovered it seven years later... Sketches and blackbooks are the deepest sense of history and insight that we have. The walls will crumble, the trains will be cleaned and the tags will fade but the sketchbooks will live on. The drawings we do in other artists’ blackbooks, the books we give to other people as gifts will remain long after we are gone. – Remi Rough

The seminal book on graffiti to this day (for those of us that come from that school), is Subway Art by Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant. Starting at page 32 is the first appearance of the sketchbook. Small as it may seem in comparison to the resultant works that come out of it, it is essentially [for me] the corner stone of who we are and what we do, perhaps no different than other forms of art, but somehow in the resultant pages of Subway Art, Dondi White holding a sketchbook dwarfed between trains, it is a mighty document from which secrets and great ideas were created and held. On many occasions I’ve seen sketchbooks passed around at gatherings, and elements of a person are passed back and forth with [or without] reverence. It’s the secretly coded curriculum vitae, autograph book, art collection, and a yardstick for the measure of ones self, to ones self and others. I’ve got a grip of them myself, each page holding time and meaning, a visual ipod of thoughts and moments, times and places. It wasn’t always this way for me however the sketchbook is a beast in itself something that has to be tackled and mastered, and necessary tool in the arsenal and an important space of exchange where value is judged and developed between thoughts and spaces on the world outside, it can be rocked in a sketchbook but can it be rocked on a wall, or visa versa. Remi’s always had a bunch of sketchbooks lying around, eclectically collecting his thoughts and ideas, this is one of the places I developed reverence for the document and for his style. Draftsmanship and design, positive and negative space, form and function, all pawns in Remi’s history, now handled with aplomb. I believe a great man once told me that the science of style was written in a sketchbook and it is with the anticipation of an alchemist I open anyone’s sketchbook passed to me for consideration. In it’s re-creation Remi is sharing with you a grandiose period of time and development, a period of time it shall take to peruse it, and time well spent it shall be. – Stormie Mills

I have filled a fair few sketch books through the years. Some I still have, some I’ve either lost, given away or trashed. Most of these drawings have never seen the light of day, some have been painted and some have been used in all manner of graphic abuse. As a ‘graffiti artist’, I’ve always found the best way to keep your ‘proverbial hand’ in, is to draw as often as possible. It’s all development. Every single idea starts from that point. It’s then up to you where you take it. But without the sketch it wouldn’t exist... – Remi Rough


Rough. I painted this alongside She One at Grove Park, London. 1996

Rough. 1998

Rough. I painted this outline with the rest of the Ikonoklast Crew at Banksy’s ‘Walls on fire’ event in Bristol. It rained solidly for the entire time we were there, I just managed to finished my piece but we had to give up on the whole wall in the end. 1998

Roughe. This was the first time I painted the trademark letter ‘E’ on the end of my piece. 1998

Shadowman. These are pretty much, all the sketches I had for a four story mural commission painted in Portobello Road with German artist Turna.g... 1999


Rough. I used this in a page layout for Lo-down magazine. 1999


Rough. On a trip up to Bristol to visit a friend, I quickly stopped off at Bedminster hall of fame to drop this Rough outline. I think I must have left my sketchbook at home, and drawn this on the first available scrap of paper that came to hand. 1999

I drew this for a sticker, which was to go onto a ‘Reptiles’ 12”. There are a lot of personal elements represented in this, one of which is Systems hometown of Llandudno in Wales, which I’d just come back from visiting. 1999

Rough. This one was painted at the classic Grove Park spot in London with my old friend Derm. Painted in oranges, reds, yellows and blues, with just a hint of 3D on the letter ‘H’. We also painted a character in just black and white, which we referenced from Derm walking along flipping a coin in his hand earlier on that day. 1999

Rough. This outline sat in the book unfinished for almost 4 years then I came across it again and finished it off. 2000 / 2003


I love the ghosts of other pieces bleeding through the paper. 2000

I had seen a video for a Lucy Pearl song on MTV, where all the people in the video had these retro TVs for heads. So I did my own interpretation. I actually painted another version of this same character alongside 1Mor in Grove Park, London. 2000

Rough. I painted this semi-wildstyle on Brighton Beach, one hot Summer’s day, with Aroe, Jano, Astek and Nylon. 2000

The Invisibles. The Invisibles were my trademark characters throughout the 90’s and early 00’s. I only painted about twelve of these characters in all. I painted this one as part of a huge production in a south London suburb. 2000

Rough. The problem with drawing so much, is that it’s so current, you rarely look back through your older sketch books and sadly end up nearly always painting the more recent outlines. 2001

Rough. I drew it in Perth whilst staying with Stormie. It’s a totally selfish outline. There’s no room for anyone else with a sketch like this. 2001

The Revenge of The Killer Penguins. 2001

Ruf. 2001

RoughE. Somehow,the letter ‘E’ made a guest appearance on this outline, and quite frankly, stole the show. 2001

Roughe. 2001

Rough. It’s funny but I rarely do simple line drawings, so when I found this one, I thought it would be a good one to put into this book. Never painted this in it’s entirety, but I have used bits of it here and there. 2001

Rough. 2001

Rough. 2001

Rough. 2002

Rough. This was painted one Autumn day in Grove Park, with 1Mor. The wall was done completely in monochrome and came out just like the sketch. 1Mor’s piece worked beautifully alongside mine, such a talented writer. 2002

I’d set myself the daunting task of designing myself a tattoo, whilst staying at Stormie’s in Australia. My good friend Shrume inked this onto my arm for me. We were all three of us suffering from horrendous hangovers that day, and I remember Stormie taking me to get a smoothie first delaying the tattooing, saying that if I’m still too drunk I’ll end up bleeding like a stuck pig! 2002

Roughe. 2002

Rough. 2002

Rough. I painted this linear sketch with the incredibly talented ‘Part 2’ in London. I had acquired a rather large collection of Buntlack cans and so the entire wall was done with Buntlack. Thus the title of the piece: ‘Buntlack Millionaires’. Both pieces were in this linear style with Part 2’s wildstyle sitting under mine. We were loosely basing the idea on the famous ‘Orgasma Penetrators’ wall by Lokiss and Lord Skki. 2003

Rough. I used this sketch on an A0 poster that I designed for an exhibition in London. I made a stencil out of it and put it on one of Ben Wilson’s flat pack chairs and I also used it within an illustration i did for Sleaze Nation Magazine entitled ‘Who Killed Antipop’. 2003

Rough. I painted this chunky outline at Chelmsford Gas works. The character I painted next to it was a hybrid of Bruce Lee and Salvador Dali with a giant paint brush. 2003

Rough.... 2003

Rough. Mohawk character. 2003

I have always been fascinated by the letter ‘O’. An incredibly difficult letter to translate into any writing style. If you look at most typefaces, the O never changes that much. I’ve always wanted to take this letter as far as I possible could so I started painting my trademark triangle ‘O’. This sketch was just before I’d really developed that idea.

Originally painted in Perth, Western Australia with Shrume and Stormie Mills. This sketch also appeared in the Graffiti World book. 2002

Rough. 2003

Rough. This was an idea for a wall I was going to do with Aydee (Artful Dodger). ut I’m sure It’ll happen 2003


Rough. I like doing the completely unobvious sometimes. I can’t resist putting modern elements in though. I could never be a true traditionalist. 2003

Rough. This is something different again for me. ‘Carpe Diem’ magazine used it in their magazine in an interview they did with me. I think once this book is in my hands, alot of these sketches are going to get a second life. 2004

Rough. 2004

Rough. My band; Reptiles played Sonar Festival 2004 in Barcelona. In our goodie bags, we got these tiny sketch pads. I drew this in it, got up the next day and painted it on a wall opposite the Municipal Park, illegally in broad daylight. 2004

Rough / RU. The only guest appearance in the whole book... Stormie sent me this fresh sticker, which I subsequently stuck in my blackbook, next to this weird, blocky sketch. 2003

Wonderland. Stormie was in London for the launch of the ‘Graffiti World‘ book, so we decided to use this as a good exhibition opportunity. We blagged an empty shop space in the middle of London’s West End, and System, Stormie, Timid and myself all did this completely black and white installation inside the space. The entire thing was safely behind glass, so we called it; ‘Through The Looking Glass’.. 2004

Rough. I love exagerrating the size of key letters, like the ‘R’. This was also the first time I worked out how to do two ‘ G’s’ in one! Both upper and lower case. 2004

Rough. I rarely dust off the old Caran D’ache pencils nowadays. But this was one occasion where I did. When I first started writing, I used to draw like this every day. Full colour sketches with backgrounds and clouds and characters. 2004

A-One. I met A-One in 93 in Paris. We hung out alot and even painted a train together. We next met up in Birmingham at the Blueprint Gallery. I was deeply saddened when I heard that he’d died. I drew this picture of him a few weeks after I’d heard the news. He will be sorely missed, a true legend and lovely guy. 2004

Rough. Sometimes it’s good to just get ideas out, even if some of them don’t work... You can nearly always find something usuable in there. 2005

RoughE. I painted this ‘Roughe’ outline alongside Astek in South London in the Summer of 2004. For once the wall came out nicer than the sketch. Astek’s piece was hot too. 2004

RoughE. This was drawn out in Spain and then painted with Dems in ElchĂŠ in the South of Spain. It was far too hot and the paint was practically drying inside the cans. 2004

Rough. I painted this in Chelmsford, Essex, on a production wall with the amazing Serval from Geneva, Switzerland, Framer and Crack 15 from Madrid. It looked so much better on the wall. I simplified it loads and although the fill was dark aubergine, I did a magenta pink outline and I added tiny dash of turquoise in the letters, except the ‘O’ which was completely white. 2004

Rough. Classic, back leaning panel Rough piece, complete with musical note serifs. 2004

the first draft design for my ‘Project XI’ poster. I ended up dropping the characters from the final one, didn’t think it needed them. I did the end product entirely in Illustrator, but I couldn’t have done it without drawing it first. Computers are a great tool but they’ll never replace the artists hand! 2005

Rough. 2005

Rough. The many lives of an outline is never more evident than here... This particular one was painted with System and Stormie, used on a t-shirt design and a collaboration with Joker from Portland, USA for the Rigidmouth 2 book. 2005

Rough. 2005

Nostalgialator. Nostalgialator was Mike Ladd’s seventh studio album on K7. He asked me to sketch up an idea for him, sadly this wasn’t used in the end. 2005

Rough. I drew this after painting a similar freestyle in an installation with System and Timid. Suffice to say the freestyle painting still looks better in the cold light of day. I do however like the way the G sits under the U. 2006

Rough. My Influence for this was the late, great Dondi. Simple yet stylish is one of the true styles anyone has yet to master. I’m still on it, but Dondi had it down to a fine art. 2005

Roughe. 2006

RoughE. This was one of my favourite Rough sketches of the time. The addition of the letter ‘E’ was partly by accident, but seems to have now become a staple. I also find it funny when people ask me why there’s a letter ‘E’ at the end of Rough? 2006

Lethal. This ‘Lethal’ sketch was for a Lethal Bizzle video that I was lucky enough to art direct along with film director; Luc Janin. I worked with Luc and the animators, supplying them with a huge amount of drawings which they then brought to life for the promo. 2006

The finalĂŠ of the video was a battle between Lethal Bizzle and this giant robot... this was my original design for the robot, unfortunately time was against us and the end result was nowhere near as detailed. 2006

I was approached by Chris Silva from Chicago to be part of a group show out there and these were the design for the sheets of metal I subsequently painted. 2006


Rem. 2006

I needed to do studies for skulls for 4 large format drawings I was doing for an exhibition at the Nancy Victor Gallery in London. These were the first 2 studies I made. 2007

I always loved drawing skulls, I think it came from reading a lot of Simon Bisley comics when I was younger. I also looked through a ton of tricycle references before I found the right ones. I lost the middle finger T-shirt when I did the final version. 2007

I really like the dynamic of this character. It’s actualy quite difficult to get skulls to look alive, since you have no eys or emotional features to work with. 2007

Rough. This was the second big wall I painted with Framer. I sent him the outline and he redrew his parts into it. We painted it, yet again in the freezing cold, using a CMYK colour scheme. The paint started cracking as soon as it hit the wall due to the moisture. Total nightmare! looked fine in the photos though. 2007

Rough. This Rough outline was painted with Framer in Chelmsford in the freezing cold... I’d sent Framer the outline and he’d fused his letters in between mine. 2007

RoughE. I have always love artistic throw ups... Artists like Twist, Jon One and O’Clock are true kings of throw up style. 2007

Rough. Soon after doing the sketch on the left hand page, I thought about using big arrows in something more stylish. 2007


AOC 0.3. The original concept drawing for the ‘Agents of change’ AOC 0.3 project at the Future Everything Festival in Manchester. System, and I came up with the idea of using hands to represent the city. 2010

R. 2011

3 Kings. This is the original sketch for the ‘3 Kings’ wall System and I painted. We were going to paint Shy 147, Dondi and Basquiat, but we changed Shy for Rammellzee as he died whilst we were working on the ideas. All great artists and all sorely missed... 2011


Letter ‘R’, perspective 3D with serif. 2012

Letter ‘R’, two connecting arrows and loose crown. 2012

Letter ‘R’ in a special sketch book handmade by the amazing Augustine Kofie. The book’s a piece of art in itself. 2012

Letter ‘R’. Another minimal sketch in my handmade ‘Kofie’ book. Lately the ‘R’ has become enough for me to draw. 2012

Sketches for recent canvas works. drawings like these usually reference a painting, they rarely become a painting. I often use four or five sketches when making a painting. 2012


Letter ‘O’. Sketch for a letter ‘O’ with connecting broken arrow and drips. 2012

This painting / sketch is actually in someone else’s blackbook. One nice thing about our subculture is the sharing of artwork like this. 2013

Koutoubia mural sketch. #unfolding 2013

Equilibrium VI. #unfolding 2013

RoughE. 2013

Equilibrium V. #unfolding 2013

RoughE. I constructed this outline around the letter ‘E’ which I drew first. 2013

RoughE. Recently I have been making lots of collage pieces, all mainly quite abstract, This was a mixture of both my graffiti lettering, rendered in ink alongside some collage additions. 2013

Equilibrium III. Initial sketch for the ‘Equilibrium III’ painting for the ‘Unfolding’ exhibition in Marrakech. I did about 4 sketches for this particular painting, this was the final one. 2013

This was the sketch for a mural I painted with Nawer in Gdynia, Poland for the Traffic Design Festival. 2013


For my two amazing girls – Meeshy and Liliana. Love always. x And for my Grandpere, I miss you. Many thanks to My Agents – Stormie Mills, Steve More, Derm, Juice 126, LX One, Augustine Kofie, Carlos Mare, System, Joker, Jaybo Monk, Timid. And also thanks to Nawer, Choci Rocstar, Mike Ladd, Charlie Dark, Tasek, Part2ism, RCF1, Joseph Barnes, Crash, Shok1, Two One, Hendo, Saber, Lokiss, Smash137, Dabs and Myla, Poesia, Risky, Pyro, Sel, Skill Rock, Wisk and all my WCA brothers on the West Coast. And for every single stylewriter who owns and makes use of their black book. –

Remi Rough © 2013 All artwork by Remi Rough Designed by Remi Rough Photos by Remi Rough & Timid Typefaces used Helvetica Neue and Din-Light Printed by Ripe Digital –

A Remi Rough publication Š 2013 www.remirough.com www.agents-of-change.co.uk @remirough

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