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Scruff, aka the Cornishman behind the wacky and wonderful website Cornish Knockers, is a freelance illustrator working in beautiful Cornwall, England. Inspired by the mythology around him, Scruff conjured up his crazy band of Cornish Knockers and has been selling art and toys ever since, as well as working as a freelance artist. He created this special little Knocker and his fantastical hat just for us at Urban Threads. Read on to find out more about Scruff, and to learn just what the heck a Cornish Knocker actually is…

Get Scruff's delightful design in machine embroidery and hand embroidery formats!

Tell us a bit about your background -- what led you into art?

It’s a cliche, but I’ve been scribbling ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I just carried on and have never felt like stopping. It makes me happy. It’s also a tap for my imagination. I have a suspicion that my head may explode if I don’t keeping getting the stuff out of it and down onto paper. At school I always thought my life would revolve around drawing but I was expelled from art college, so my art career hit quite a large hurdle quite early on and I had to work in other areas! I was never really happy doing anything else, and now I’ve been a freelance illustrator for over 15 years.

Tell us a bit about Cornish Knockers. What is it? How did it get started?

The name ‘"Cornish Knockers" comes from the legendary little people, some say spirits, that frequent the tin mines of Cornwall. The Cornish Knocker Company was set up in 2008 by myself and Captain Jack Tomato with the aim of creating and selling art, toys and literature based around the characters and world I had designed. All the characters and beings are inspired by, but not strictly the same as, the actual real life legends.  Some of the characters are completely made up. Back in 1800s/1900s Cornwall was at the forefront of world steam technology. The Cornish inventors were celebrated worldwide for this as well as many other types of invention, which is why our art contains lots of inventors, steam and clockwork!

What inspires your designs?

Luckily for me I was born and bred in Cornwall, a beautiful Celtic county in England that used to be its own country. It’s where a lot of the proper ‘Arrr’ type pirates originally came from and is bursting at the seams with myths and legends of mermaids, giants, piskies, smugglers, spriggans and of course Knockers. Apart from that, a partial list would include Tony Hart, Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin (and all their creations), Weebles, Mr Men, Bob Godfrey, 2000AD, David McKee, Michael Bentine’s Potty Time, Carry On films, Dennis and Gnasher, Barbapapa, Trap door, Harryhausen, Mr Ben, Van Gogh and Ilya Repin ... I could go on.

Tell us a bit about your design. Is there any story behind this crazy little guy?

The most respected of the Cornish Knockers amongst their own folk are those within the Grand Order Of the Oggy. Wizards, Bosses, Tasters and the wise form their ranks. They are also known as The Big Hats due to their enormous and often magical headgear. As a celebration approaches there is often competition among the Big Hats to outdo one another with magical hat based creations.

What’s your studio/workspace like?

I’m lucky enough to have a room in my house with a view overlooking some cows. The studio’s pretty crammed. I can’t resist buying pens, brushes and the like. I also do my digital work there but most work surfaces are covered with doodles and roughs on scraps of paper.

What’s your favorite handmade craft you’ve ever made?

Aged 11 I tie-dyed the phrase "you stupid git" into a napkin. My classmates were impressed but my teacher failed to see the skill involved.

Finally, if you were a Crayola crayon, what color would you be?

I’m not sure about colour, but I’d like to smell like a pasty as I was scribbled.

If you dig Scruff and his awesome Cornish Knockers, you can find more on his website, or buy prints on his Etsy or Zazzle shops. You could of course just go over and say ‘ello on facebook.

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