Ruben Burgess Jr. was on a train four years ago, traveling through Europe on a study-abroad program, when he discovered his artistic style. He was making a contour drawing of a Karl Lagerfeld photo, doodling like he did every day, but this time he completed the image without ever lifting his pen. It was an interesting challenge that he has continued to explore in his notebooks, displays at pop-up shops, a permanent mural spanning a wall at the Hairstory salon on Henderson, and a recent series of large-scale canvases. A 9-foot drawing of a Comme des Garçons campaign by Rei Kawakubo (left) took him five nonstop hours to finish. “I do everything in one sitting, in one flow of the line,” Burgess says. “I don’t practice. Everything is one time, one try. If I mess up on an image, I’m not going to restart.”
His drawings are largely facsimiles of fashion ads and editorials. And Burgess, who works in luxury retail to pay the bills and as a stylist as much as possible, has a unique sense of personal style as well—a hint of Japanese influence with a heavy emphasis on accessories. He almost always wears stacks of silver rings, safety pins affixed to his garments, and pointed-toe boots with tall Cuban heels year-round. His favorite shop in Dallas is Vagabond Vintage, where he has scavenged a Burberry blazer, rock t-shirts, trousers that he embellishes with Sharpie markings, and leather jackets, which he paints. “I’ll wear really nice things with destroyed or repurposed vintage things,” he says. “I enjoy the balance of order and disorder.”
Follow Burgess on Instagram: @sartorialnolift.