Rumpus has a reputation as one of London's best club nights – and as one that gets patrons to put as much effort into making the night special as the organisers do. Held only four or five times a year – plus taking over part of the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire – the night brings together performers and artists, with attendees encouraged to create elaborate fancy dress costumes around a set theme.
The performers range from gypsy-punk bands to burlesque dancers to athletic circus performers (think Cirque Du Soleil rather than Billy Smart's) to artists, who work on live pieces as the night progresses. Rumpus is held in multi-room venues – usually the warren of connected spaces that is Electrowerkz in Islington – patrons explore across the night. The result makes real what most people think a late-80s rave was like – full of diverse mix of happy people.
At the most recent Rumpus at the 11-room Coronet near Elephant & Castle – and the night's third birthday party – we met recent Middlesex illustration graduate Alex Moore, who has been producing artwork for the events for some time. Back in reality this week, we caught up with Alex to find out more about the project.
Use the slideshow controls above and right to read our interview with Alex and see more of her work.
DA: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
AM: "I've always wanted to be an illustrator- even before I knew the job existed. There's constantly been the odd job here and there, basically whenever the chance has come up.
"Since graduating from Middlesex's Illustration BA last summer i've been keeping busy with various project, ranging from taking part in comic anthology to organising exhibitions and trying to work out how to make a career of it all. It's been pretty non stop but i'd think i'd go nuts if it wasn't."
DA: How did you get involved with Rumpus?
AM: "My friend Max introduced me to Rumpus way back when they were throwing parties in a delightfully grotty abandoned building. I'd never been to anything like it- since then I've been going whenever there's the chance.
"There's a really infectious air of involvement and creativity at the parties – from the costumes in the crowds to all the acts, live art and performers (Max and his saxophone for instance are now regular features).
"I really wanted to contribute something so in the end I shot the organisers an email with a few samples and asked if they had any need of a graphic designer/illustrator. [Rumpus co-organiser] Santi got back to me asking if I'd like to have a go at designing some speaker banners and it's all kind of gone from there.
"It's been an absolute blast working with the guys and hopefully there's going to be a lot more to do down the road once the parties start back up in October."
DA: What was the brief for the pieces you created for last Friday's party?
AM: "Space-wise, the Coronet is a fantastic venue and the guys were really keen to dress it up. [Rumpus co-organisers] Santi and Malaka asked if I could design some pieces to go on the main stage and a front for the DJ booth to tie in with the party's theme, 'The Greatest Stories Never Told'.
DA: How did you develop the artworks based on this?
AM: "Normally, I just work in pencil and take it into Photoshop – so the idea of painting up these massive flats with actual, real paint was… mildly terrifying!
"Fortunately I was teamed up with Cecilia (right, with Alex left), a stage designer, who was helping deck out the venue. She worked out the layout for the stage, i bounced some designs back and forth off her and Santi – and then it was just a case of painting up the boards.
"Cecilia did an amazing job of scaling the designs up. It really was quite something to see them up there on the stage with all the bands and whatnot!"
DA: What are you working on now and next?
AM: "Shortly after we finished uni I helped put together Curiouser and Curiouser, a group show celebrating the life and works of Lewis Carroll with two of my fellow middlesex expats, Eileen Kwan and Abi Moulder (both totally awesome people and top-notch illustrators). It was a mix of work by graduates, students and tutors and went down a treat."
"Everyone wanted to stay in touch and keep working together so we recently formed a collective – The Drawn Chorus Collective – and are currently gearing up for our next show in September (The greatest show on earth; featuring circuses, freak shows and fairs from literature!). I'm also going to be doing more work with the Rumpus crew once they're back from their summer hiatus so yes, exciting times ahead!"
More of Alex's work from Rumpus.
The boards being painted.
Some of Alex's original artwork for the event.
More of Alex's original artwork for the event.
More of Alex's original artwork for the event.