Marcos Diaz is designer, artist and illustrator out of Melbourne working under the title of Digable Goods. He also runs the label Ruler Wurc. I bought my first piece of his, back in 2011. A black t-shirt with a red and white bottle of milk on the back, from his first label Ruler Melbourne. I wore the fuck out of it, but it shrunk, it faded and I grew out of it. When he launced a refreshed version of the brand last year – Ruler Wurc, I was siked to see the return of the milk bottle tee. I'll say this right now – I fucking love this dudes work. When I started Neue Goods and began the Creators Series, Marcos' work ethic was the essence of what I wanted to capture. Young, hard working creatives with a strong sense of independence behind them. Hopefully this interview does it justice.
You started up Ruler Melbourne when you were younger, and dropped out of High School to focus on it. What were the initial days with the brand like? What ups or downs did you face when starting the brand?
Yeah, I started Ruler Melbourne with my best mate when I was 16 a few weeks shy of my 17th Birthday. We we're young and pretty hungry to get our stuff noticed. Surprisingly we had amazing opportunities right from the get go. Our first ever release party was with the "This Thing Collective" who housed Harvey Sutherland, Andras Fox, Wooshie, etc. From there we somehow ended up with a huge crew, half of us were from the west and the other half were from the south east. We did a bag collaboration with Jansport pretty early as well as a tee collab with Budweiser. We dropped a few EP's and mixes with some of the dude like Juve, Kharnivor, Sleep D, Carmex, Dylan B, etc. as well as having an amazing opportunity to have a mix released with Taku who has completely blown up now. The only thing I would change if i had the chance to is the age we were when it all happened, I feel as if we would of made more of an impact being able to control things like money and time.
You stopped producing new collections for Ruler Melbourne a few years later – Why?
There was many reasons to why we stopped but it was just one of those things. We both got jobs and wanted to put our focus on some other things for the time being.
Last year you started back up again under the name Ruler Wurc – do you treat this as separate brand or merely a continuation?
Ruler Wurc is a older, much more mature version of Ruler Melbourne. We felt the need to change the name just to rekindle the old spirit of what we did but also to lead us in a different direction. I found it very hard to design for Ruler at times because it didn't reflect my growth as an artist, the slightest name change gave us that freedom. W.U.R.C also stands for Working Under Rugged Conditions as a reflection to where were from and how we've come up.
Your work includes a lot of references to signage and other prominent Australian storefront and suburban imagery – What’s the idea behind this, and how have you let it influence your work?
Sign Writing is what its all about. I grew up doing graffiti and was always interested in the clean cut lettering. My older brother would always draw script and I would always try to copy it, same goes for all the cartoons I do. I guess it came from a young age, my grandma would have signs all around her house and I was always fascinated by them. I love drawing on things that I see and making them a part of the work I do.
Why does St. Albans mean so much to you and why is it featured so heavily in your work?
St. Albans is home, It's where all my family lives and where my close friends are. In a lot of ways its seen as a negative place, it has a lot of the high statistics for all the wrong things and my focus is to bring light to a dark place i guess. Apart from that, its got so many hidden gems for food and the people here are very interesting.
I may be mistaken – but it looks like apart from a few commissions here and there, Ruler Wurc is a full-time thing. How have you gotten to this point and what’s differences do you see between your life and others who are running brands as side projects?
Ruler Wurc is still a side project but with a full time mentality. We do have part time jobs and I especially do a heap of freelance work, but Ruler Wurc is definitely a main focus in many ways. Eventually I do want to get to a point where its all that I focus on but its a work in progress at the moment haha.
What is your favourite thing about running the brand?
My favourite thing about running a brand is being able to meet amazing people and make my art into a product which will be worn by a random person that knows nothing about me.
Ruler Wurc seems like it has a very strong DIY and Independent ethic. From painting signage by hand, to running your own online store, to flogging your gear in a laneway on Boxing Day – it seems like you like to be personally involved in every aspect of the brand. Why have your chosen to stay almost 100% Independent and how has it affected the brand?
It definitely comes natural to us and I think the whole scene as well. As there isn't really any rules we just take advantage of that and try to try stay as connected as we can with our brand and the customers that come through. A lot of us have grown up painting so thats always been a given for us.
Apart from creating art for Ruler, you also work with a bunch of other independent labels and businesses. What differences or similarities do you see in your work for Ruler, compared to your work for others?
A lot of the work i do for these people are ideas that have come from them first. They're my favourite jobs because they're always challenging. My work for Ruler is definitely a lot more refined but i want to get to a point that you'll be able to see my work and know that i've done it.
From Burger Shops and Bars, to other independent labels – it seems like you’ve done a lot of work for Independent Creators in Melbourne. How do you think Melbourne has affected yourself and the other creatives you know in helping them launch projects and start things from scratch?
Well I know nothing else but to live and work in Melbourne so I can definitely say its been great, but thats coming from a view where i know nothing else. But so far its been amazing, great people, great projects. Like I said earlier St. Albans has definitely given me a lot of cultural knowledge and ambition to get to know more also.
What tips do you have for people who constantly have ideas – but no motivation in actually putting those ideas into action?
Just constantly be doing something and always be working on different things. That way you can always have things to go to when you can't work on the other.
You’ve teased us all with a little preview of Wurc – a new retail store you’re creating. Can you drop anymore info on what’s happening with that and what we can expect from it?
WURC Store is still a work in progress but it is definitely a go ahead. I can't drop to much information but it isn't your average retail store. Hopefully it can kind of change how people experience retail in Melbourne as well.
What’s next for you?
More designs, more art, more Ruler Wurc & more travel!