Artist in res­i­dence

His­tor­i­cal haven This Mas­sachusetts-based artist and au­thor’s stu­dio is steeped in lo­cal his­tory and in­evitable clut­ter

ImagineFX - - Contents - Greg has been mak­ing books and comics since 1993. See more at www.gregth­

Mas­sachusetts-based artist Greg Ruth’s stu­dio is steeped in lo­cal his­tory – and clut­ter.

I live with my fam­ily in a late 1800s Vic­to­rian, smack in the middle of Main Street in Ash­field, Mas­sachusetts. It was built by the town doc­tor at the time, who worked in the apothe­cary build­ing he used as his phar­macy next to it. The his­tory of places is es­sen­tial to me and I love be­ing in a place so deeply steeped in the lo­cal lore.

Hav­ing a workspace out­side of our prin­ci­pal home is equally im­por­tant in help­ing me to keep work at work, and home where it be­longs. The down­stairs show­room is a bit too open and light filled, so I pre­fer the darker, cosier en­vi­rons of the up­stairs loft with its wain­scoted walls and rosary win­dow.

I work in a state of un­for­giv­able, per­pet­ual clut­ter and ever since this past sum­mer’s dead­line crush to get INDEH, (my new graphic novel with Ethan Hawke due out in June), it’s only got­ten worse. One sav­ing grace this cre­ated was switch­ing from work­ing late into the night for get­ting up at 5am for an early start. This change has been a rev­o­lu­tion for my pro­duc­tiv­ity, and while get­ting up so early to start the day is ad­mit­tedly hellish at first, achiev­ing a full day’s work be­fore noon and not be­ing so run­down by too many late nights has been a rev­e­la­tion. I’d have never fin­ished INDEH in­tact work­ing in the old way, nor would the work for it be of a qual­ity the book de­serves.

I work tra­di­tion­ally, but I like to fin­ish up my pieces and or­gan­ise them dig­i­tally, so hav­ing my draft­ing ta­ble op­po­site my com­puter sta­tion en­ables me to hop be­tween them as needed. I keep a well­stocked li­brary of art­books and LPs on hand to help feed the ef­fort as well.

The stu­dio mas­cot, one of 50 death masks of Bobo the Go­rilla, sits at the cen­tre of things. It was given to me as a birth­day gift. This guy may not see any­thing, but he’s al­ways watch­ing. Some­times he holds my hat for me. The se­cret pas­sage from the down­stairs show­room into the sanc­tum sanc­to­rum above. None shall pass save for me to that space. I say to oth­ers that it’s to keep the space pure, but it’s ac­tu­ally be­cause I never clean it. My work-for-kib­ble stu­dio as­sis­tant, Pete, who re­minds me when it’s time to leave work and head in to make sup­per. Oddly, Pete sees the taxi­dermy friends as com­pe­ti­tion for my af­fec­tions, de­spite his be­ing still alive as a leg-up.

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