Irish Artist Launches New Sustainable Pieces Ahead of Holidays

Irish Artist Launches New Sustainable Pieces Ahead of Holidays

Story | Rebecca Daly

Photo credit: Eibhin Kavanagh

Rotten Rouge is releasing new work Nov. 20 just in time for the holidays.

The Dublin, Ireland-based art shop and website is the brainchild of journalism student Eibhin Kavanagh, who founded it in 2016. In the beginning, it focused primarily on comics but has now morphed into what it is today. 

When Kavanagh was just 16, he started working on his graphic novel,“Red Tales.” He wanted his work to be part of the lively comic scene in Dublin.

“Dublin has a great comic scene,” he said. “There are independent comic fairs so I just decided one day on a whim that I would get it printed.” 

Kavanagh took up a part-time job in retail in order to publish his comic. It was then sold in the Dublin branch of Forbidden Planet, a worldwide comic book shop. From there, he started to develop his ideas and his plans for Rotten Rouge. He began upcycling clothing from his wardrobe by painting different designs on them.

“I loved giving them a new life for other people then to wear,” he said. 

Kavanagh then started painting on tote bags and more recently, reusable masks. During the first period of restrictions as a result of COVID-19, he decided to use overexposed polaroids as postcards by painting over them. 

“I really think lockdown has made us all aware of staying in touch with letter writing and postcards,” he said. “I’ve made a couple of postcards that originally started as a lockdown project for myself to send to my friends and family and then I just started creating them for fun to put them up on the shop and see if anyone was interested.”

Rotten Rouge saw a real ignition this year and Kavanagh launched a number of different lines. The first of which was a charity line during the summer that saw a number of different postcards created, each dedicated to a particular animal and cause. 

An upcycled jacket Kavanagh made.
Photo credit: Rotten Rouge

In September, Rotten Rouge’s Autumn line was stripped back and “grounded.”

“This year, obviously, we’ve all been challenged on what we could do,” Kavanagh said. “This line was very much based on where I’m from so all about Dublin and local stuff.”

This continued into October with new items dawning pen and ink artwork in keeping with his take off of “inktober” challenge- Rottober. For this, Kavanagh posted ink drawings every day for the entire month.

This Friday, Nov. 20, Rotten Rouge launches its winter line. The products of each line are kept secret until the day of their release, and this one is no different. 

The idea for the Winter line came as Ireland was put into another strict lockdown for six weeks in the lead up to the festive season. Instead of staring at the four walls around him, Kavanagh began to reminisce on past memories found in his camera roll of a family trip to New York a few years ago. This was especially relevant as his plans to spend the summer in the Big Apple were affected by the pandemic. 

Rotten Rouge’s “very Christmassy without being Santa Claus” line features new items such as upcycled glassware and candle holders along with paintings. Art deco, the 1920s and shimmering gold are at the heart of it.

“I created it based on this whole kind of escapism theme. There are lots of lights and it looks like there’s motion in it because it’s a fantasy,” he said.

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