Ron English Interview

Ron English Interview

1st Jun 2014

Ron English is an American contemporary artist who blends stunning visuals with biting political, consumerist and surrealist statements. He coined the term POPaganda to describe his signature mash-up of high and low cultural touchstones, from superhero mythology to totems of art history.

Mousetrap painting by Ron English, oil on canvas

Let’s start off with a little bit about your background. Where are you from, etc.? 
I am from a small town in the  American Midwest, Decatur Illinois. It's famous for processing soybeans. 

What first inspired you to become an artist?
I'm pretty  sure I was born an artist – it has been my identity and my way of interacting with the world for as long as I can remember.

Were there any particular artists, designers or genres that inspired you back then? 
In Illinois I  knew very little of the larger art world beyond comic books (although my high school art teacher had taught me a bit).  I was really into Zap Comix and quit my job at a bowling alley to take a job at half the pay drawing for an advertising specialty company. I loved that job because half the time I had to produce commercial art for T-shirts, etc and the rest of the time we worked on an underground comic book. After high school I went to work at the railroad, where we sometimes did art on the boxcars leaving Decatur. That was my first exposure to trains as an alternative distribution system for my art. When the railroad laid me off I moved to Texas for work. It was there I discovered billboards.

Ghosts of Guernica, 2011, oil n canvas

How would you describe your art?
I am akin to someone who absorbed every ad, every piece of political propaganda, every religion's philosophy, and wilfully misunderstood every bit of it.

Can you give us a brief description of your work process? 
I think they call these things we artists do "artwork" because there has always been some question as to whether it is actually work or not. Art is the personalization of everything you experience. 

Is there a project that you’re particularly proud of?
I love all my children equally though some give me more grief than others.

Any future projects/exhibitions/books that we should be watching out for?
The two new books are Death and the Eternal Forever and Status Factory. Death is the first book that explores a singular theme in my art. Over the years I have developed long thematic threads in my art, so it is awesome to see one separated from the weave.

Major Tom (Star Skull) by Ron English, 2013, oli on canvas

Ron English's website:

Books by Ron English
Death and the Eternal Forever