by Edie Van Breems September 14, 2022 4 min read

When we think of your cartoons, we associate you with an almost old-world sense of humor, charm and even glamour. What would you say were some of the main influences in creating the Tug Rice style and world?

Thank you — I’m taking that as a compliment! I think it’s a concoction of all the things I love: classicism, eclecticism, history, jazz, a witty phrase, Art for Art’s Sake. I’m certainly not as witty or as clever as the characters I create. But I enjoy giving them life and a stage.

I think the inspiration comes from what’s around me, but not too literally. I rarely depict “real” people unless that’s the assignment. They’re generally fictional characters in fictional settings but most definitely there’s a subconscious nod to people I encounter at restaurants, museums, etc. It’s an ethos, I guess, that I’m trying to capture of the New York I love. But I try not to intellectualize it too much.

What are some of your favorite cities or places to go in Scandinavia?

I haven’t made the voyage yet but I’m very interested in visiting Drottningsholm in Sweden. I want to see the opera house there that functions as it has since the 18th century, with all the old stage equipment that is still turned by hand. It must be like stepping back in time.

Favorite Ingmar Bergman film?

Fanny and Alexander. I am still haunted by it years later. I’d love to watch it annually as I think that would be a nice tradition but it’s one of those films that is so rich, you need ample time between viewings. It’s like an eight-course meal; you can’t experience that every day.

Maybe it’s been long enough now and I can finally revisit it this Christmastime. Visually, it’s a feast. And the dialogue, the story, the acting…the presence of ghosts, even…it’s just brilliant.

Are there any contemporary artists, shows or writers you are currently excited by?

Tons. I think it’s one of life’s greatest joys being able to follow in real time the career of an artist you admire. When a new book comes out by Anthony Horowitz (I’m enthralled by his Magpie Murders series), it’s like Christmas morning. Or a new album by Madeleine Peyroux (I like to work to her music).

A home tour by Miles Redd, who I think is a genius. It’s one thing to celebrate an artist posthumously but to be able to observe them in their prime, how they grow and outdo themselves and surprise us or offer what’s familiar, is a unique pleasure. You feel part of their artistic experience and you are by virtue of being an admirer.

Are there any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

Each month until December, The Ritz London is rolling out a calendar I illustrated for them and I also recently created artwork for new menus in their restaurant. Very proud of that. In London I also work closely with Halcyon Days and we are launching new collections of enamel and fine bone china in the coming months that I look forward to sharing.

Actually, there’s something about Halcyon Days that I think inherently appeals to lovers of Scandinavian design. The clean white of the bone china with the fanciful artwork is a great combination, in my opinion, and can be appreciated by both minimalists and maximalists.

What is your studio/workspace like and what does it contain that may surprise us?

I keep it pretty organized; otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to create anything. I work at the desk in my living room in Manhattan. Above me is an abstract painting by Mark Perry, a contemporary artist I admire. On the desk I have lots of freshly sharpened pencils, a Moleskine journal for notes on projects, a coffee cup, and my iMac.

I also have a crystal paperweight that belonged to Sir Noel Coward, a stapler that I’ve been using since I was a kid (it’s become nostalgic), and items from some of my favorite projects and clients: a coffee cup I designed for a company in Qatar (Le Petit Camion), candles from The Ritz and The Breidenbacher Hof Hotel in Düsseldorf, pictures I did for The Carlyle, etc. It’s like a little souvenir shop.

Where will you be traveling, in person or virtually, to this year?

I’m just about to head back to France to work on a new project — not illustration, but something creative in a completely different way. It should be challenging and, I think, rewarding. My French is very limited but, you know, art is the universal language — or something like that. Then, I’m squeezing in a short trip to LA before coming back to London in December to promote the new Halcyon Days collections.

I enjoy traveling without a purpose but it’s always more fun when it’s connected to work. I like being able to meet face to face with collaborators I’m only used to corresponding with virtually, and to see the illustrations I created at my desk having an exciting, exotic life in their new habitat.

What would be your dream find at the Eleish Van Breems Tent Sale?

Well, I’d love to stumble upon a king size Gustavian bed with a cognac-colored leather headboard. 18th century but mint condition. Is that too much to ask?

Visit for more information.  

Feature image photo credit: Mitchell Vito Helson.

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