Published on January 27, 2014 | by Emma Francis0
Profile: Funny Tummy
Funny Tummy is a 28-year-old artist with an expanding list of high-profile fans, one of whom is Rihanna, the proud owner of a portrait that Funny Tummy painted of her. Emma Francis spoke to the artist and discussed his current success and future goals.
Funny Tummy started his artistic career creating mixtape and album covers: “I blend the two things that I like – art and music.”
He has created covers for music artists Tinie Tempah, Jacob Banks and Krept & Konan, and has recently produced the artwork for musician Angel. He said: “I like Angel and what he’s doing. So I did the artwork.”
The first question that he is always asked is: Why are you called Funny Tummy? “It’s kind of cryptic,” he says. “It’s a half secret because only because only some people know.”
Preferring to keep a low profile and let his artwork speak for itself, he doesn’t give away his real name. What the Stig is to Top Gear, Funny Tummy is to the art world: a mystery.
His popularity among celebrities and the general public alike is credit to his pure artistic talent, which he says is a natural gift: “My mum’s an artist, my brother’s an artist, my nan did art and design and my cousin is an artist as well. No art college, none of that.”
However, Funny Tummy believes there can be great worth in an art degree: “I think it 100 per cent depends on what someone wants to do and the type of art they want to do. Some would benefit from going to university and others may not.”
“I’m not really familiar with other artists or what anyone else is doing I just concentrate on what I’m doing and I don’t really pay attention to any other artists.” Funny Tummy
Funny Tummy’s individuality is a key feature of his success: “I’m not really familiar with other artists or what anyone else is doing. The reason I do that is so I don’t subconsciously start painting or drawing like anyone else. I just concentrate on what I’m doing and I don’t really pay attention to any other artists.”
As he couldn’t tell us his favourite artist, we asked Funny Tummy if he could show the world just one piece of his own artwork, what would it be?
“My favourite piece is probably the most basic one that I did. The This means nothing one. It’s a quick sketch of a girl’s face with writing over it. I just put it up [on Instagram] thinking ‘let everyone see a sketch’, but so many people liked it. After that, I thought ‘wow, this is crazy.’ It really became something. So ever since then that’s been my favourite one.”
Funny Tummy’s unique style has seen him noticed by the Good Girl Gone Bad singer, Rihanna, and after she viewed his abstract portrait of her on Instagram, she asked if she could have it.
“She saw the painting but she didn’t know who did it. She found out it was me and got in contact with me through Twitter, so I gave her my number and she asked me to drop it off as she was in London at the time. I wish I had more of an exciting story, like, I dropped it off and we went for drinks. But no, that was it really,” he says.
He has also painted unique portraits of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, but these are yet to be hung on the power couple’s walls.
“I think any avenue that allows people to buy art who may not have been able to before is definitely a good thing.” – Funny Tummy
The longest he has ever spent on a painting or illustration is four or five days, however, his regime is pretty relaxed: “I would probably just paint a bit, eat, watch TV, play Xbox, paint a bit more, but I have done twelve hours non-stop a couple of times.
“Sometimes I have a really good idea and I’ll just be drawing it and I don’t even think about patience until I’m half way through and I think ‘oh man, this is going to take ages’. But because I’ve already done so much, I’ve got to finish it,” he says.
Before Christmas, Arts London News reported that Amazon are now selling fine art, which received mixed responses, but what does Funny Tummy think about it? “I think any avenue that allows people to buy art who may not have been able to before is definitely a good thing. I think a lot of people want to buy artwork but don’t know where to buy it. Any new way to buy art is a good thing,” he says.
He now has two studios, but despite his growing success Funny Tummy believes his big break is yet to come: “When I’m big in America that will be my big break,” he says. “It’s the epicentre of everything. If you make it in America you make it everywhere else just by default. I’m selling all over the world but if I had the same impact in America as I do in England, I think that would be the big break.”
“When people think pop music and they think of Michael Jackson? Or rap music they think Jay-Z? I want it to be on that kind of level.” – Funny Tummy
He goes on to tell us the dream for Funny Tummy art: “I want it to be like, you know when people think pop music and they think of Michael Jackson? Or rap music they think Jay-Z? I want it to be on that kind of level. Where people think of art and they think ‘Funny Tummy’. That’s the goal.”
If you want to see some of Funny Tummy’s work visit the Throughout Rising Festival at The Roundhouse in Camden from February 20-23. Alternatively, you can follow him on twitter at @funnytummy, Instagram at @funnytummyart, or visit his website at www.funnytummyart.com