Artist Russell Maurice also runs the label Gasius. He makes art is various formats including painting collage and sculpture. He was raised in Newcastle, painted graf since 1980s, started his t-shirt brand in the 1990s and makes collaborations with big brands since 2000s. He now lives in Japan where he enjoys its nature and rich cartoon culture.

In our interview Gasius told us about his favorite cartoons, how he did his first rave at the age of 15, the collab with Captek, a joint exhibition with Kenichiro Mizuno, the differences between London and Tokyo and his approach to art.
It's not a secret that you're big fan of cartoons. And it influenced a lot in your art. How your love for cartoons started? What cartoons were mostly triggered for you? And why?
Like any kid I grew up with cartoons, dunno… they just grabbed me, I first remember being fascinated by G Force (Gacchaman in Japan). Then I remember being in the supermarket with my Mom and crying cause I was gonna miss Dangermouse, she didn't understand how important it was haha. But I started drawing graffiti aged 8, so from here on cartoons just meant «‎Graf character» what was gonna look cool next to some letters, so I was looking at He-man and loving Orco cause he was fresh. And also loved Inspector Gadget cause it was good but also cause it had been sampled by Doug E Fresh in «‎The Show» (early rap song). Then after Subway Art was published we where all checking this for characters and learning where they where from so of course Bode, Felix, Wizards etc etc
Do you still have some favorites since childhood?
They are all ingrained in me and it's a long list, but in the UK we didn't have many Anime's (France and Italy had a lot of Japanese cartoon). Shows (not yet mentioned) that I loved: Dogtanion, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, Duckula, Cities of Gold etc, but also loved the ALL the oldies like Tom & Jerry, Bugs, Popeye.
You growed in Newcastle. Many sources mentioned that you're inspired by the 90s graffiti scene. And you said that you grew among the rave and skate scene. Back in those days, can you remember some specials about Newcastles Graffiti and rave scene? Things / cases that mostly impressed and influenced you.
Yeah I started writing early 80's so it was not inspiration... it was my life, kinda from the second my friend showed me Graf, it fascinated me instantly and I guess has directed my life, which is quite a mad thing to be able to say. Newcastle scene was very healthy, there was a bunch of Graf existing before Subway Art, and there was a healthy Break scene too. This was early 80's, of course it grew more and kinda Boomed in the late 80's early 90's, I remember all of it, and everyone involved haha! Like any Graf scene there was good squad and bad.

Newcastle had a good rave scene too, it had grown out of acid house and a bunch of people doing illegal parties late 80's. Then in early 90's there was regular Raves. The best being Rezerection, I did my first Pill (a White Dove) aged 15 at Rezerection 4 and saw Altern8 and LFO. EVERYONE from Newcastle scene was there that night, all buzzing, it was a good vibe. LFO sat crossed legged on stage just with the synths infront of them
Bad by Neet, 1984
Newcastle old graffiti
You started printing tees in 1993. Can you remember your very first tees and designs?
The very first ones I made for my friends and where hand painted, I made ten like this and the money from these I used to pay for the first screen printed batch: There was two designs a Spraycan guy and an Uzi smoking a spliff haha. I'll try give you some pics, but only have pics of ones from 1994 I think.
Early «‎Gasface», 1994
First 4 colour print, 1994
First labels, 1993 г.
By talking about Roman ruins graphics (your old tees) and your new Pizza tees you said that «‎if you want to sell something it has to be commercial». What do you mean? Is there no other ways but only doing «‎pop» themes? Or?
I just mean in general, people have to understand something to want to buy it. Haha… If I had my way I'd make weird shit all day long but that market is small.

Commercial doesn't necessarily mean pop, or bad, just accessible, I dunno, I've always had this thing in me to hate «‎commercial» so I kinda shoot myself in the foot by fighting to be something more cause I make less money that way, but I stand behind 99% of what I make…and I'm surviving so, all good.
Gasius for Brain Dead
Do you have any rituals or something unusual and special related to your current creative process?
ВSame as it ever was… get zooted and over think it.
You did really nice collabs with many brands (almost hundred yeah?). We are interested to know your approach in each joint work. What is important to you in each collab?
I've no idea how many i did, it can't be that many ! For me what's important is to make something nice, that both parties are happy with. I will always ask them «‎what do you want» first.
Gasius for Carhartt WIP
What opportunities big brands give you? What things do you appreciate in working for small brands?
Big = wider audience and bigger budgets, and often means more tech or items that I couldn't make myself.

Small = specific and more niche usually.
What types of collaboration will you never do?
Things I don't believe in, things I wouldn't use, people I don't like, politics I don't agree with, wack companies.
In February you present puffy graphics tee with CAPTEK. Haha you mentioned that it's for your «‎russki squad». How does it happen?
I think a cool project, it was a super small run I think only 30 so this is crazy rare item. He asked me if I was down and I liked the idea. I wanted it to be in Russian for Russians!, I like the opportunity to make a graphic I can't read and I like the letter forms of Russian, it's mysterious for me cause some is romanic and some cyrillic.
Why did you decide to move to Tokyo? What experience was it? What things in Tokyo most impressed and influenced you? Any new opportunities? Especially as the artist.
I started working with Japanese (then) distribution company MAYZ mid 00's and it was this connection that brought me to visit here first in 2008. From then the connections to people and this place got stronger and more complicated and I moved here permanently 4 years ago. Japan is super good place I love it. Very chill, very safe. And the Nature is amazing, I have become fascinated with the sea here, and insects too, it has a rich insect life.

The art scene is very very different here, and it took me quite a while to make connections with galleries. But once I did I made many connections quite fast and now really love my Art community here. It feels possible to do things, people are a lot more open to share connections than London.
What do you think, what are the main differences between London and Tokyo life?
Here people have respect for each other's space, privacy and property, you can leave your bike unlocked and no ones going to take it. I love that. London at times you need to be on your toes a little, look over your shoulder at the ATM machine. But also London is a lot more free, your not going to jail for a month for smoking a joint like Japan.
Huh, because we have no opportunity to visit your current exhibition «‎ALTERED STATE», could you tell us (and our public) about it? Why did you do it as «‎Ken Russell» with your friend Kenichiro Mizuno?
This project started with a publication, my good friend Nori at Calm and Punk (/CCCP) knew I was a fan of Mizuno and connected us. As we made the Publication he sorted out the show, and we made a bunch of nice product too. So with Nori as the bridge between me and Mizuno...we just bounced a lot of ideas back and forth, I was calling it MIZMAU AND MIZUMAUR and then Miz came back with Ken Russell which led to «‎Altered State» (from Ken Russell's classic psychedelic movie Altered States).
What types of tools/ mediums do you mostly interest in working now? Oil/canvas, sculpture, digital etc? Did you experiment with some new mediums and techniques?
I like to switch it up for every project, keeps things interesting. And yes, I try as much as possible to experiment and make new objects. Just, I think this is how it should be. To attempt to be as original as you can within these constructs. For Altered State I made these paintings on PVC and stretched them onto wooden frames like a normal canvas. I liked that they where new but I don't think I'll make more as they where really difficult to keep clean and stretch perfectly, but I want to figure a good solution for transparent paintings.
Can you share with us some plans for this year?
Next is having a baby in July, then in August I have a sculpture show with Bien and Diego.

Instagram: @gasius

Grade Moscow
25 Apr, 2021