RONE, street artist

Get a job … if you have a job you don’t need to compromise your artistic vision. I have seen too many artists forced to sell their work way under its value just to make ends meet …

If you’ve wandered down past Woolworths at Robina Town Centre of late, you were likely blown away by the massive 90 metre mural depicting fresh produce and large washes of colour interspersed with hauntingly beautiful faces. The work stands as a gigantic labour of love for internationally renowned street artist, RONE. Known for his unique, stylised images of his female muse, RONE began his career during the burgeoning Melbourne street art scene in the 2000s, and is now represented by galleries in London, Berlin and New York. His street art can be found – in various states of decay – peering out from beneath overpasses and emblazoned on walls the world over. The Weekend Edition Gold Coast caught up with RONE as he put down the paintbrush on the colossal piece to chat about sticky situations and career highlights.

What influences and inspires your work?
I am inspired by the beauty that can be found in decay and other juxtapositions I see around me.

Your latest work spans a massive 90 metres wide by eight metres high. Have you ever attempted something on that scale before?
This is the largest work I have ever tackled, I have painted much taller walls but nothing so expansive in colour and detail.

What are some of the challenges involved with large-scale work?
There are dozens of mini challenges that make it come together. The biggest would be getting everything in proportion when you are face-to-face with the wall. I use something like a grid system so I don’t need to continually step back.

What does that mural mean to you as an artist?
When they first approached me I thought it looked like a job for a giant digitally printed graphic. So when I understood that they wanted to create something unique, authentic and hand-made I was really impressed. It was a fantastic opportunity to create something on such a huge scale.

If you had to guess, how many hours would you say have gone into it?
I think I spent about 150 hours at the wall but I had help from my friend Callum Preston who did just as many hours as I did. So l would say about 300 painting hours.

Can you give us any hints as to what’s happening behind the mural?
Iv’e got no idea but I saw them digging a big hole so I think it’s going to be a swimming pool.

How would you describe your style of art?
Painterly portraits of giant calming beauties.

Your work often depicts female faces, who is your biggest muse?
I paint many different faces although painting Teresa Oman is always great as she came say so much with such a small expression.

What’s the first piece of art you can remember creating (legal or otherwise)?
I can’t remember exactly what it was but I first started painting at skate parks and abandoned buildings. I think it could have been a stencil of a skateboarder.

What originally attracted you to street art?
I found it via skateboarding, it was just another social activity that wasn’t football.

When you were starting out as a street artist did you ever find yourself in some sticky situations?
A literally sticky situation when the 10 litre bucket of wall paper glue (for posters) dropped in the middle of the concourse of Union Street Station in New York. There was no way for me to pick it up so I just had keep on walking.

Of course now your work has taken you around the world and you were even commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria to work with Jean Paul Gaultier, what have been some of the highlights?
I have been lucky enough to do so amazing projects around the world but the best ones have been when I see a real appreciation and have a connection to the community. The best experience was painting in Vanuatu where the whole village lined up to thank us by shaking our hands when we finished painting their wall.

You’ve got work in galleries in London, Berlin and New York, where would you most love to see your work displayed?
It would be nice to see my work in a few more museums.

Is there one piece you’ve created that will always stay with you as long as you live?
There are a few works I hide away, I actually forget I have a few works stashed but it’s always nice to know I still have them.

You’ve already achieved so much in your career and life, what are you most proud of?
Thank you, but it always feel like there is so much more I can do. I think I’m most proud of simple fact that this is now my full time job.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists?
Yes, get a job. Seriously, if you have a job you don’t need to compromise your artistic vision. I have seen too many artists forced to sell their work way under its value just to make ends meet. A steady income can let you take bigger risks with your work and let you have more creative freedom.


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