Cover artist RUMTUM on being both a musician and physical designer

Cover artist RUMTUM on being both a musician and physical designer

CultureDecember 03, 2019

Art. Say the word out loud and everyone experiences it differently. Some think of a meticulously blasted wall, others a hanging macramé pot-holder. Or sculptures. Or acting. Or music. For John Hastings, known as RUMTUM, it’s a variety of pretty much all the above. He’s a working physical muralist and visual designer along with lauded producer and DJ. Music and visual art are his literal bread and butter.

Growing up in Cleveland, close to Lake Erie, nature got inside him. To let it out, he works with the abstract shapes of it, both visually and with sound. You’ll see his work out there, too, donning the sides of neighborhood walls or on Soundcloud collecting thousands of plays. It’s a busy lifestyle, one he says won’t ever fade. 

Age/Location? 
33/Denver, Colo. 

Favorite fast food?
Random receipts from late nights tell me Good Times and I are pretty tight! 

Is a hot dog a sandwich? 
It sure is. The best hot dog I’ve had in a long time was at Goed Zurr in 5 Points! 

Briefly explain what a zipper-merge is.
I’m not explaining this but I will say on paper this theory sounds great and technically would work! Unfortunately everyone in Denver is always late and humans are greedy plus 90 percent of people merge like grandparents because they’re too high.

Many in Colorado were introduced to you through music years ago, do you find the two ‘scenes’ (conventional art and music) to be similar or different? Why?
Colorado is blessed with a pretty rad music scene and a thriving art scene but what physically makes these scenes exist is people actually caring about art and supporting. That being said, I believe it’s easier for supporters to look at a piece of art and digest the work on the spot causing a faster connection rather then sitting down and listening to a whole track and connecting to a record. In my experience, art will always have a bit of a leg up on music because of this. 

Do you think maybe one day you’ll blend the two worlds and try doing a wild DJ set while you’re live painting? Could be fun ...
I’ve thought about this for years and I’ve always wanted to animate my art to a whole record, maybe one day soon! I am lucky enough to be working on some amazing animation projects for 2020.

Your bios and interviews talk a lot about the ‘natural shapes’ in life; what is it about these that draw you to them?
I grew up on Lake Erie in Cleveland and spent a lot of time around nature throughout my whole life; natural elements and creating atmospheres has always been a huge focus for me with art or music. I think natural shapes is a direct connection to being in the forest and feeling grounded which was how I spent my time as a kid. 

What is it you listen to while deep in a work session?
Oh man, house, techno, down-tempo, hip-hop and anything made with a drum machine and synths! Love... ...electronic music! My lady is always listening to those lo-fi YouTube channels — we really dig on those while painting. My Boy Monster Rally is always taking up my audio space. Boards of Canada and anything off Wrap Records/Teebs and anything on the Flying Lotus label. Brain Feeder, Dorothy Ashby is always on here and there. Wu-Tang forever. El Michaels Affair, Gold Panda, Shigeto, Botany, Moodymann, Todd Terje, Floating Points, J Dilla, Tame Impala, Four Tet, Dirty Art Club ... if you follow RUMTUM on Spotify I have endless playlist and I’m constantly posting new ones.

If you had to pick a favorite sketch or painting of yours, could you do it?
No, I try not to have a favorite so I constantly make better work. 

What do you think the city of Denver does well in terms of growing the art scene?
I think there’s a lot of support behind art funds and public projects, which helps Denver stay progressive. Obviously Crush is a huge support system for a lot of artists and supporters. There’s a ton of people here that are just extremely positive about pushing each other forward; I feel lucky everyday to be a working artist in a healthy city. 

If people want to go experience your murals in Colorado, where can they go to find them?
RiNo, Colfax, South Broadway, Englewood, Boulder, Crema, Middle Man, Mission Ballroom, Oriental Theater.

Shameless plug(s):
I’ve got my own cooking show coming up in 2020 called John’s Food Blog; look out for it on Colorado Public TV!

Site: RumtumCreations.com
IG: @rumtum_art