Ahead of his upcoming collaboration with Vans we got to speak to the legendary graphic wizard, Fergus Purcell aka Fergadelic, on his creative process, what a day in lockdown looks like, tattoos and his favourite sneakers - Vans...
For those that don’t know, what and who is Fergadelic?
My name is Fergus and I’m a commercial artist.
Fergadelic was a pseudonym that I came up with, in the 90s. I liked how graffiti writers or superheroes had these hidden alter egos & decided to do the same. The only thing is, that I wasn’t very thorough in hiding my real name… or staunch in insisting that I be called Fergadelic. My choice of a pseudonym was awkward & stupid enough to put people off using it, ha ha…. They tended to prefer using my real name. So really you should be speaking now to a truly mysterious entity… but you’ve just got through to Fergus, the commercial artist.
What does a lockdown day in studio-Fergadelic look like?
I’m fortunate under the circumstances in that I can work from anywhere… and do… I’ve done that from India, Japan, all sorts of places and so I’m well used to working remotely. In that respect, it’s business as usual… but I love being out-&-about too.
Just going for a stroll is one of my favourite things to do. I love nature walks, in the countryside, but I equally enjoy walking around the city & seeing all the different kinds of people. I find that endlessly inspiring - the wonderful variety of cultures that are here in London…it’s one of the wonders of the world…so I miss doing that a lot.
"VISUALS FOR 2MANYDJS WAS A GREAT PROJECT BECAUSE I’D GO TO THEIR SHOWS & SEE 2,000 MUNTED PEOPLE GOING NUTS TO MY IMAGERY"
How do you kick-start the creative process? How do you approach a project?
A good cup of coffee (All Press, Prufrock, Pophams)! Er… I’m lucky, images just pop into my head. Sometimes from meditating on the project, but also sometimes when I’m thinking about something else altogether. I’ll be doing the washing up & ‘POP’ there it is…the answer. Almost always the finished artwork is directly this first & instant idea.
[Image: Frog Head by Lee Ralph]
What are you listening to at the moment, any suggestions for us?
Ah! Are you willing to go hard..?! If so, then ‘Complete Acid Terror’ by Morbid Angel is a trip. It’s the instrumental demos from their last release. I listen to quite full bore metal & hardcore a lot. My friend Jonas just turned me on to Kreator’s ‘Pleasure To Kill’, which is awesome, but I listen to different genres too. The OST to ‘Uncut Gems’ is amazing. I listen to early Tangerine Dream & Klaus Schulze a lot, both highly recommended. Also loving the 90s Trance comp from Prana records, the mighty ‘Earth 2’ & Eye’s out-there mix called ‘Cozzvo’.
You’ve worked with so many big brands, from Palace and Ashley Williams through to Marc Jacobs. Your career spans over 20 years, so looking back now - has there been any particular high points?
The first-ever job I did, when I was still in high school, was for Slam City Skates. That was a great place to start & a real high point that I then wanted my whole career to match up to. I did stuff for Hysteric Glamour in the 90s & that was very exciting. Their output back then was incredible. They were doing stuff in t-shirts & clothing that no one else got near for years - very ahead of the game. I did the artwork for Lee Dorian’s record label & that was a buzz - he was the singer on Napalm Death’s legendary, Scum. I’ve done so many fun & interesting projects…
Visuals for 2manydjs was a great project because I’d go to their shows & see 2,000 munted people going nuts to my imagery! Ha Ha. Recently I worked on Calvin Klein, whilst Raf Simons was in charge & that was an incredible experience. I was very sad when he had to exit..! The team I worked with here in the U.K. were incredible too, that could have just kept going & going as far as I was concerned.
This is going to sound corny - I don’t care - but doing this Vans project that we’re here to talk about… that was magic. I’ve been a fan of the brand for SOOOOOO long, I even have the tattoo on my arm. It was incredible to finally be working directly with them. I say ‘directly’ because I’ve made artworks for other people to use on Vans, but this was the first time that I got to do my thing 100%. It was a dream...
"SITTING THERE TATTOOING MYSELF FOR HOURS ON END JUST SEEMS LIKE A MAD INDULGENCE"
You’ve obviously got a lot of tattoos. What’s your latest one and are you still regularly getting them?
Kermit, greyscale shaded portrait…yeah, I’ll be getting more but progress is slow these days. Sitting there tattooing myself for hours on end just seems like a mad indulgence Ha Ha… I don’t seem to have the time - but I know what the next one is going to be...
[Image: Custom gold rings made & engraved by Rebus]
What are you reading at the moment?
‘Count Zero’ by William Gibson, ‘Ghost In The Shell’ by Masamune Shirow, 'Cerebus - High Society’ by Dave Sim & while I’ve read all of Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novels, I’m constantly re-visiting them… ’Now Wait For Last Year’ most recently...
What is your favourite sneaker of all-time?
Vans Authentic. Pure class...
The collection that you've done with Vans is excellent, nice work. What is the concept behind the collection?
Thank you. The theme is The Cornershop. I’ve been to corner shops in many places around the world. There is a strange ubiquity in the experience; whilst the specifics change, the mixture of products - a combination of the local & the international - seems universal. It’s as though the corner shop is its own special entity, a kind of small spaceship that’s landed from somewhere...
To enter the corner shop is to pass through a portal… into a place of possibility. I love the mixture of the banal & the unexpected that’s to be found there. Also, visually, the cacophony of packaging is a psychedelic overload. My design celebrates this concept.
Fergadellic is mythical. Why do you consciously keep your presence underground, even when you seem to be busier than ever?
The first part = good, I’m glad you think so! Makes me sound like Gandalf or something...
For the other part: quite simply, I’m not interested in creating publicity; that’s someone else’s job If it’s happened occasionally over the years, then I’m happy about that, but my ‘story’ in that sense - I leave for others to tell…
I am, as you say, busy…busy. Making artwork & concentrating my energies on that. On the one hand, I love being relatively anonymous, but then on the other, seeing my work (some of it, at least) really gaining popularity and becoming present in the world... Most days, when I’m in London, I’ll see one of my designs. That’s a great feeling.
Also, growing up, I was really attracted to all sorts of weird & underground things - in music, comics, art, the local video shop, wherever I could seek it out. I’d be honoured to be thought of as having joined those ranks!
Future plans for Fergus Purcell?
Creativity, family, travel, music...
VANS x FERGADELIC RELEASES: 23RD MAY 2020.