The Radiant Fire: Interview with Artist Lance Scruggs
By Jay Sanchez
Artist Lance Scruggs A.K.A Lance the Rebel has been holding a creative torch for over 10 years. His continued hustle and hunger for creative expression has taken him from writing and producing music with fellow local artist to creating the iconic characters you will find in his masterpieces today. A proclaimed “corky late bloomer” has been firing up Nashville with newfound inspiration sparked late in 2019. His genius has kept him lowkey and mystic for quite some time, this has quietly made him a “Rebel with a cause.” Lance took some time to chop it up with me and zone out to different periods in his journey. He touched on his inner child, his creative process, influences and inspiration, and the evolution of what is meant to be. If you don’t know, you will now know more about the genius mind of Lance Scruggs.
Raw, Uncensored, Unapologetic…
“I believe, Therefore I Am”
Jay Sanchez: After having the privilege of vibing in your studio and sharing some awesome conversations with you; I’d like to start this piece on a different note. Take us back to the period leading up to your biggest night thus far! The opening night of your first exhibit at Cecret in WeHo.
Lance Scruggs: Shit man! What a moment that was. The process really began in late 2019 bro. During this time, I had already been painting for about 10 years. I wanted to approach this series of work with progression in mind, a showing of my work at this scale was new to me. I got fired from my job early in the pandemic which inspired me to tap into my inner entrepreneur, so I started a handyman business. My piece “Triple Threat” really set the tone for the series I started late in 2019.
Jay Sanchez: Why was this piece so important in that moment of creation?
Lance Scruggs: Triple Threat was on my wall for about a year before completion! During that period, I actually attempted to complete this piece 5 different times. The characters in it went through multiple transformation. They have been a part of my work since the beginning on my journey man, they’ve also evolved with me over a period of time. “The rest of the pieces created during the pandemic came organically once I got the characters and flames embracing the feeling I wanted to create.” My mind was focused on creating something that showed the world who I am, how I was going to make my own lane.
Jay Sanchez: Sounds like the pandemic hit you with a fucken creative virus!?
Lance Scruggs: Hell Yeah man! (Laughs) And fucken COVID as well…
JS: How did the collaboration with Clarence Edwards and his Cecret Gallery come about?
LS: While Clarence was in the process of opening the gallery, he hired me to do some handy work for him in the building. As he prepped his upcoming exhibition for an Artist, he gave me space for a couple of my pieces to be showcased. Man, I was excited as fuck to be a part of that; for real! I submitted multiple pieces for his selection, it ended being 4 pieces for that show including “Triple Threat”.
JS: This was legit your first exhibition?
LS: Yea bro, I had showings of a piece or two in the past and even a proposed exhibition at a restaurant that never flourished. I have never set foot on this big stage before, a late bloomer for sure. By the way, I want to thank that dude at the restaurant for his negative response to my work! (Laughs)
JS: Elaborate on that emotion.
LS: The owner felt as if my work was not up to par which then messed with my head and shocked my creativity for a bit. Dude at the restaurant straight up said No man! So that never happened. This also gave me a valuable lesson that fueled more fire inside of me.
JS: What lesson was that bro?
LS: “I learned everybody isn’t going to connect with my work or even like it! Regardless of how others feel I know now I’ve got to keep pushing, continue to create and fully express myself.” Thankfully this all took me to an evolving creative period that eventually inspired my piece Triple Threat.
JS: Wow, this convo has gone full circle my dude! Poetic & Cinematic as fuck right now. (laughs) Seems like it all came full circle at that moment for you!?
LS: Yea bro, that’s how I felt at that point and on opening night! I was excited and nervous at the same time. I went from getting turned down by a restaurant thinking “how could anyone appreciate my work” to getting hired to do work at Cecret, and then having this big moment as a visual artist in a gallery setting. I had gone through a lot to make this happen, many years on the grind elevating my skill for sure bro. At this point I had successfully created and presented a cohesive body of work, that shit was big for me. I am very grateful to Clarence for giving me that opportunity.
JS: All those years of evolving with your work were meant to be!?
LS: Most definitely man. Not trying to be cocky, but something deep inside has always told me I was here for something beyond the normal. Even back when I was producing and writing music with Artist I felt like “I was drumming to a different beat.” I take pride in those music roots energizing who I am today as well. Almost like the music and painting have been vital in my personal evolution.
JS: With that said, define Lance Scruggs? Who is Lance the Rebel? Above all, what inspires you?
LS: The root of my inspiration above all is My Family; they’ve kept the fire burning within me. “They have always made me feel like I’m destined for greatness man” my pops, my auntie, my grandma, my girl, my son, and close friends have always walked with me in inspiration. I’m still evolving as we speak, like the characters in my pieces. Lance the Rebel is the musician that came before in a different time kicking crazy beats and spitting wild rhymes, but at the same time curious and eager for more. Growing up in East Nashville harden me up a bit, graduating from Maplewood HS gave me many experiences and concepts of individualism I still carry with me this very day.
JS: Your work and even this conversation finds you touching on fire a few times; is there a meaning behind all that?
LS: I’m a pyro bro! Since I was a kid, I’ve loved the energy and power that comes from a fire. It has deep personal meaning and takes me back to that bad ass little kid I once was playing with lighters, sitting in bonfires with loved ones. I also find the power of fire to be therapeutic, big reason why it’s heavily used in my work. I’m going against the grain bro, making my own way like a burning fire.
JS: So, does this mean Lance the Rebel could also be the fire fueling Lance Scruggs?
LS: Oh shit! I like the way you’ve worded that. That can be a very accurate bonding explanation of Lance Scruggs & Lance the Rebel.
JS: Tell me about the influences that have navigated your creative journey as a painter?
LS: Basquiat, The G.O.A.T man. I caught “The Radiant Child” on Netflix and since then attempted to carry that torch that was once lit by his greatness. There’s that fire again!! (Laughs) This all happened at a time of creative growth, I’ve been working on somewhat recreating his magic in my own way for years. Today, I maintain that wisdom I’ve acquired from studying the Master himself as I continue to make my individuality more and more visible. Banksy has also inspired my evolution throughout the years. I deeply find the corkiness in his masterpieces to be influential in what I’m doing, something that I’ve heavily infused in much of my work. “I want people to engage in deep conversation and have fun when they come out to the gallery or pop-up location.”
JS: How did that feeling of wanting to create a fun environment come about?
LS: About 3 years ago I experimented with some shrooms bro. The outcome was fucken phenomenal man! I was creating some music at that moment thinking I was in route to creating classic sounds, but something told me to get the fuck up and paint instead! That night I stayed up till 6 in the morning and created 6 pieces, something new took over me that night. I felt like that “bad ass happy kid” returned on that trip, the inner child within just took over my spirit and still has influence in what I’m doing today. I’m a corky, fun-loving individual who wants others to feel that energy flowing from my creations.
JS: That sounds like a magical experience man, a “Magical Mystery Tour” Almost as if that moment of experimentation has brought you to this point in your journey.
LS: For sure bro! That was an amazing experience.
JS: With that said brother; What experience is Lance Scruggs currently in the process of creating?
LS: Man, 2022 has been a beautiful ride thus far! I am looking forward to expanding the momentum deep into 2023. Currently working on a series right now that will probably feature about 10 pieces, a small pivot from the previous series mixed with the continued evolution of my work. This series finds my evolution expanding to heights that make it a “Royal Flush” totally finding my style on a whole different level. It will be an experience and not your typical show; I want people to feel moved in ways that leave a memorable feeling deep inside. Not your typical night at the art crawl for sure man! Taking the show on the road to Memphis as well.
JS: Love that city bro! Can you spare a few details on that show?
LS: During my exhibition at Cecret I had The Nka “inka” Gallery approach me with a possible collaboration, fast forward we’re looking at October for opening night. I’m changing the narrative as an Artist and as a member of this community! I am seeking more; I am working towards something greater; I’ll leave it at that bro. “I believe, therefore I Am” and will continue to light up the fire and scatter these flames every step of the way.