Shane Ruff is an artist and founder of Ruff Studio and Burlyshirts, a t-shirt and gear company catering to the LGBT, leather and bear communities. Burlyshirts is a staple of vendor marts at leather events across the US. They are a sponsor of International Mr. Leather.
Ruff grew up just a few hours north of New York City in the Hudson Valley, and had many opportunities to explore the art in the museums of the city and neighboring colleges. His exposure to many forms of art at a young age helped his own development as an artist. His parents always encouraged him in his artistic endeavors allowing him to take over the first floor of the 2 story green house on the front of their home as his studio where he spent many hours working on his projects. He enjoyed working in fabric, painting, drawing and making things with anything he could get his hands on. His talent extended into music as well, as he taught himself to play just from listening to songs and enjoyed making up his own compositions on the family piano.
During high school, he taught himself to silk screen after being fascinated with the art of Andy Warhol and other artists. He soon started a t-shirt silk screening company called Ruff Draft T-shirt Co. and designed and produced shirts for many customers. From the Putnam County Association of Retarded Children, the Brahms Music Festival at Bard College, local bands and landscaping companies to even a full line of shirts he designed and printed to help raise money for his senior class in high school. He also came up with his own designs to put on t-shirts and sold them at fairs, and stores in neighboring towns including Woodstock. In High School and College Shane was awarded many honors in artistic achievement and some of his work was featured in local papers. His talents also got him scholarships to college where he was able to continue his artistic explorations.
In college at the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine, his focus was in graphic design & photography while also enjoying sculpture and drawing. He made the National Dean’s List his first year of school and continued to do very well until just after his second year where we made the decision to drop out and not finish. He wasn’t able to narrow his focus onto one medium and couldn’t decide on a major. Most of his professors supported his decision and though conversations told him that he knew what he needed to know in order to do what he wanted to do.
From early high school through today Shane has explored just about every form of art. Through his job experiences in architecture, graphic design, theater, marketing, special event design, among others, his passion always remained with his artistic side and the desire to be feeding his creativity.
His current passions lie in painting, silk screening and also working in fabric. The unique style found in his work is carried though each medium. His sense of color, shape and form come from years of his artistic exploration and taking inspiration from many influential artists and designers. Some of his recent work also explores the combination of printing, painting and drawing as he layers images creating a unique depth in the work. His art continues to evolve as he never stops exploring his means of expression and always remains excited to see what is yet to come.
Ruff Studio was born on April 19th of 2007, after being laid off from an 8 year design job with a special event design firm in the Boston area. In the first few years of business he dabbled in a few areas of interest and continued to work with a few special event clients that wanted to continue to use his talents. Around 4 years into his business he settled on something that he’s done on and off for over 20 years and has always loved – T-shirt design and printing. He came 360 – and landed back on the thing that got him started with the arts in the late 80′s. As a designer and artist he puts so much creative energy into every project and strives to keep creating fresh new ideas and designs. Ruffshirt.com was started as an online shop to offer some of his products and t-shirt designs to his customers and has been shipping T-shirts now around the world. His main focus is on Custom Designs for his customers that come to him for a unique creation for their project. His work isn’t limited to T-shirts but he’s printed and worked on custom pillows, chair covers, stuffed animals, posters, wood and many other items. But clothing, from T-shirts, Sweatshirts, Shorts, etc etc are the most common things he works with. From here he hopes to continue to grow both as an artist and as a business and take on new challenges that will only expand his abilities and his imagination.