Unbelievably, I wasn’t that popular at school – I was the weird ginger kid who was oversensitive and was interested in things that “normal” children didn’t really like. For many years this made me feel like a bit of an outcast, with a small circle of friends that I never really felt I belonged with. I have grown up to embrace my differences, and now relish in them, but during that time relentlessly struggled. This is a story that is so familiar to many people, each of us facing that trial in different ways, some getting to a place that is very hard to get out of.
Grum Reapur aka Brad Humble, recognises this struggle, and actively works on an anti suicide campaign and is really involved with promoting good mental health and openness. I am particularly honoured that I can call Brad a good friend of mine, and I can see first hand that work that he does with people. This is how the Grum Reapur was born. During Brad’s discovery of himself, he created his iconic Grum Reapur figure along with a message for all those people who are struggling with any kind of mental health issues which is open and heart warming.
Who better though to tell you about this, but Brad himself…
You have been very open with the fact that the Grum Reapur was a developmental piece out of your own experiences with mental health, and now is a masterpiece which will be a lifetime in the making. What influences help drive your change of mindset and who/what inspired you to create the brand that you now have?
Most of my influences come from the philosophical and sociological world, namely people like Alan Watts, James Harvey Robinson and Terence Mckenna. The search for meaning is one that permeates through most of my work, to be able to help others free themselves of the shackles of sociological conditioning and pursue a life that they wish to follow, free of the shackles that lead many to a life of servitude to bosses who don’t value their worth. Whether those shackles are in the way we think, the way we behave or in the way we view the world around is. The base idea is I will wade through the suffering and bring out the nuggets of wisdom I find deep within that realm that I call Etherea.
The Grum Reapur is himself is a great and versatile image that you have created, what made you pick an image that is synonymous with death as an icon of saving souls?
I have always been obsessed with the idea of death, how it defines our lives as this ever looming presence that many seek to avoid thinking about because it is a dark subject. I saw myself falling into the “real world” and hating how it systematically seems to strip us of any individuality or the desire to be different, making us feel ashamed for who we truly are and trying to drive us to hide those aspects of ourselves. We are put on the same pathway as those who came before us because they never knew a way out, they too were told to give up on their hopes and dreams and I believe it is this death of desire which leads us into depression, it was certainly what drove me there. I chose the image of death due to all this introspection about what it means to die and what it means to live really, and found time and time again that a considered life comes from helping others on their own pathway, the only pathway I knew how to speak about was my own journey from what I have treated as my own metaphorical death after my last failed suicide attempt at age 22.
How did the Many Men come about?
One of the philosophical schools of thought that I found myself drawn towards the most was stoicism for its take on the belief systems in our minds. My first introduction to this philosophy was on the very first page of a book called “The Mind in the Making” by James Harvey Robinson and the quote was “man is more tormented by his opinion of things than the things themselves”, which showed me that it was how set it stone my own beliefs about my life were and that all I needed to do was begin to break apart my own belief systems. If we believe the world is out to get us then we are controlled by that thought, if we think the world simply is the way it is and accept it for all that it is then life and our perception of it can begin to shift. The sculpts themselves are based on the neutrality of existence, with its stoic stare into the world in front of it and resemblance to the stone statues of the easter island statues I thought it would convey a sense of stillness to it.
You have many diverse media pieces in your portfolio, what is your favourite medium to work in and why?
This is a very interesting question actually as I don’t think I actually have a preferred medium. It all depends on the day and where my inspiration takes me. Sometimes it will be digital creations of geometric shapes that resemble the world behind my closed eyes, other times it will be in the sculpting of clay into new figures or models, sometimes it will take the form of drawing or inking on paper, acrylics or oil paints on canvas, spray paint on panel and recently I have been delving more so into sacred geometry and music. The main drive was to have a universal design behind what I made so I could vary what I spent my days doing as monotony is one sure fire way of making me dislike getting up in the morning. As a result of having such a varied approach to my creations I get to experience and learn something new each and every day.
What is something that you really want to achieve?
I really want to get the story behind Grum Reapur written and published, whether as a comic, a book, a cartoon series etc., with the aim of intercepting teens who may be finding they are a little weird, a little different, a little outside of the norms and tell them that they have a place in this world, that they don’t have to live with and/or accept the people they are currently surrounded with and that some day they will understand this world more than they could possibly imagine. I want it to become a symbol of hope for people walking their own path in life, as that pathway has never been taken and it takes resilience to walk, resilience which not fitting in seems to build more than trying to fit in.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists who want to make a living from their work?
Find your why, that’s the most important thing, as when people are telling you to get a real job, or when you face the opposition you can cling to the driving factor behind it and not give in. By choosing to focus on the art that you enjoy you are already 90% ahead of those who never even begin to try. Don’t be too concerned on the outcome of your work and instead enjoy the process, as no piece that you have in your head will come out looking exactly how you want it, but only you can see those perceived flaws, whilst others will see an incredible piece and appreciate the work you put into it.
Also…ignore the naysayers, anyone who is telling you that you can’t succeed are in the majority of those who gave up chasing their hopes and dreams and it is easier for them to try to bring you down than for them to admit that they didn’t put the hard work or effort into achieving their own hopes and dreams.
I find in Brad’s answers he does undersell himself slightly, as he doesn’t talk about all the good work he does with other people and the open group that he has on facebook as a collective for those who need support to come together and reach out to each other, and it is this compassion for others that I find penetrates the very soul of his work.
When you think of the image of the Grim Reaper, you think of a skeletal figure, dressed in black, coming to take your soul and usher you on to the next stop of purgatory. We rarely think of death being an overseer of life, and then it being your final mentor to the next step (whatever that might be).
I think Brad’s art breaths life to this feeling of death being something that is ever watching, and almost guiding you through, until it is your time.
When we stop thinking of death as the end of the line, then we can start to embrace its image as one of multiple possibilities, lending itself to be something to be celebrated, which is why I think Brad’s sculptures work so well.
This pink and silver sculpture just brings me so much joy, and they are made to be accessible and affordable, which is something that is so important to this brand. The production of these sculptures allow them to be coloured in so many different ways, and styles creating a different feel each time one is created.
I have two of these little sculptures so far, and they act as a reminder to me to try and remember that life doesn’t need to be as hard as we make it, I guess you can say that Brad’s positive message has reached out to me many times through his art.
I am continually impressed by Brad himself and his art, as he is a walking positive message, that exudes creativity. Brad also donates a percentage of his annual salary to mental health charities in his constant journey to help others.
If you want to see more of Brad’s work you can find his website here.
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