Interview | John Speed (Rebel Yuth)


By Kieran Webber

Rebel Yuth is the moniker behind the London/Sussex based illustrator John Speed whose work has featured in Complex Magazine, Notion Magazine, I-D Magazine and TMRW Magazine to name but a few. His work has also appeared on Skepta’s Instagram, various streetwear stores such as Urban Industry and several PR campaigns.

After browsing through his work we were eager to have a chat about his creative process and what influenced him as an artist.

CLUNK: How are you and what have you been up to?

RY: I am alive and well I suppose and yourself? I have recently been doing a collection of paintings for galleries and exhibitions I hope to get in some for 2017, running my own podcast and interviewing other creatives and finally sorting out a website.

CLUNK: Yeah we are all good! At what age did you start making art/illustrations and why?

RY: Probably like 5 years old! I have always been imaginative and would often draw over most of my school books, I always liked monsters and I think my first memory of inspiration came from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Tim burton’s masterpiece.

CLUNK: How did you come up with the moniker Rebel Yuth and why?

RY: Like a lot of my graphics it was supposed to be subtly dark and tongue in cheek, I actually took inspiration from Joy Division’s name. Which is actually from the part of the Nazi death camps where they kept Jewish women as prostitutes. Something so wrong and so right about that name. Mine comes from old iconic rebels such as Johnny cash, Elvis and James dean. The youth was a dark tongue in cheek nod to the Hitler yuth spelling, as I often cite a lot of youth culture in my work.

CLUNK: How did you end up creating the art style that you make now?

RY: Well, I have always had a sketchy style and would from a young age avoid trying to draw in pencil, just pens, something so powerful about black ink on plain white paper. I have never really enjoyed colour, so now when I use it it’s often very chaotic with watercolours or digitally added on Photoshop.

CLUNK: What are your illustrations infuenced by?

RY: I draw inspirations from anything and everything, mental health, Morrissey lyrics, American advertisements from the 50s, black flag album covers, Russian criminal tattoos, Japanese anime culture, 20th century war propaganda, Bukowski and Camus literature. The list is endless haha.tumblr_oa3l34ditr1rdjh7oo1_1280

CLUNK: Explain to us your process when making your art?

RY: Lots of research, and sketching in note books whenever an idea comes. Albeit personal or a commission. Then lots more drawing on paper, then scanning in and fixing up with photoshop.

CLUNK: Your work has featured on some prolific parts of the internet such as I-D, Complex and Skepta’s Instagram, how does that feel and what is it like seeing your work out there like that?

RY: It’s always an honour, it’s always nice to see hard work pay off. It’s great to be featured on your platform too! I was the first guy skepta featured as well which is mad. Glad he liked the work! I would be drawing regardless anyway. Featured in fashion stuff just sort of happened, like complex and stuff as I like a lot of brands I end up doing work for. So it just sort of works hand in hand. It’s always fantastic though, hopefully many more for 2017.

CLUNK: Lastly what is your plans for the future? Anything exciting coming up?

RY: More podcasts. Launch of my website. More paintings, some work in galleries and exhibitions. Some got some fun collabs too with some great streetwear brands. Also will be releasing some of my own stuff via prints and maybe a tee or two.