Having painted more women than Casanova could court, Melbourne’s key street player, RONE has one hell of a creative boner for the ladies. Bringing their beauty to life on multi storey buildings around the world, RONE’s freestyle, large-scale portraits have become his notably trademarked street style.
Following his recent visit to sunny Queensland, No Cure’s Sarah Hazlehurst catches up with RONE to chat about females, fruit and artisan experiences.
INTERVIEW: SARAH HAZLEHURST
So RONE, you likely get this all the time, but did you start out as a writer before you turned to large-scale muralism?
I guess my background is more like street art, stencil graffiti, paste-ups and stickers … not the traditional letter form of a graffiti writer. I did have a crack at that, but I was just terrible at it, so I just avoided it because I knew a lot of friends and peers who were doing it an amazing level, and I couldn’t keep up, so I went on to different mediums.
That’s kind of funny because a lot of people would argue it’s more difficult to paint what you do, as oppose to the graffiti ‘writing’ type of thing?
Yeah, but I totally have a respect for graffiti writing, especially traditional graffiti.
You paint a lot of women! Was there one original female muse who inspired you?
Not a specific one I can name, but I think the reason I started was because it was something clearly different to what my friends and I were doing. Everyone was doing things that were very heroic or masculine or aggressive! A lot of my stuff was skateboard related you know? Let’s call it ‘extreme’. The delicate female image was the total opposite of all of that. There was something really nice about the way it gave this calming feeling on the street when everything else was so noisy. I guess I really just fell in love with that juxtaposition between the beauty and the decay and the noise on the street.
Wow, that’s really nice. So that’s why you decided to continue painting women as your style?
Throughout your career as a ‘street artist’, have you even run into any trouble? Surely you didn’t start out doing these murals legally?Umm… yeah. I’ve had a few incidents, but I’ve never been arrested really.
You’ve never been arrested??
Well... I have. But I’ve never been charged. I guess there are just things you shouldn’t say in interviews, hahah.
Haha, that’s fine. On a lighter note, can you tell us a bit about your recent mural work at the Gold Coast?
Yeah, they really wanted something that led towards boutique, hand finished, craftsman style fruit and food. Not like fruit and veg’, but I guess just something that was kind of food related. I was like “ah, I don’t paint food,” hahaha.
But it was really interesting. I was thinking … I don’t want to paint this Safeway, advertising kind of thing, but it was really interesting.
Haha! Yeah, thought the fruit was quite new for you!
Haha, I’ve painted a lot of fruit before! I’ve painted Carman Miranda and she’s always got the fruit hat so I was just kind of working off that idea and the beautiful old style fruit illustrations. It was nice to do something that was boutique and hand finished for something like a supermarket, which I would usually avoid. They would usually just get something printed and stuck down, and no one really respects that, so I think they’re trying to show they’re going for this quality ‘artisan’ thing, or something like that. The plan they’re working on looks really nice.
So have you always been drawing and sketching and painting since you were young, or did you just pick it up one day and think, shit, I’m really good at this?
Haha! No, I was drawing and painting and sketching. I moved to Melbourne to study graphic arts, so I guess that’s connected in some way. My goal was to make a living as a graphic designer, graphic artist or some kind role in the creative industry, but I never really aimed to make a living out of being just an artist as such, especially street art and graffiti. Back in 2001 no one gave a shit about this. Everything has changed since then. It will be interesting to see where it ends up or where it evolves to.