A note from the editor: This interview is the first in a series of interviews with some of the Australian artists in the Young & Free show opening next week at 941 Geary in San Fransisco. Over the next week or so, Luke McManus and I (well, almost entirely Luke) will be interviewing a number of artists involved in the show. Hopefully, this will take Vandalog a step in the right direction towards better recognition of the thriving Australian street art scene. I’m pleased that we can start this series off with Luke’s interview with Rone, a member of Melbourne’s much-respected Everfresh Crew. – RJ
Rone (Everfresh) is one of the most well known and recognised street artists in Melbourne. Rone’s iconic girl face paste ups have adorned many of Melbourne’s underpasses, intersections and unused billboards as well as numerous walls for as long as I have loved street art. Rone has also hit walls in cities around the world including Los Angeles, New York, London, Toyko, Barcelona and Hong Kong. One of the girls was featured in Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Rone’s recent show ‘L’inconnue de la Rue’ (The unknown girl of the street) at Backwoods gallery in Collingwood (Melbourne) was a huge hit and possibly the show of the year so far. Every painting was sold before the exhibition opened.
I caught up with Rone recently to ask him a couple of questions. This is what he said.
LM: You must be excited about ‘Young and Free’. What do you think about this amazing opportunity and the impact it will have on the awareness of Melbourne, and Australian, street art and artists?
Rone: I’m stoked to be involved in this exhibition not just to get myself out there but to let people know about how strong the graffiti and street art community is in Melbourne and all over Australia. We have had so many internationals come here over the years and be amazed about how much we have going on but because we aren’t New York or London we unfortunately don’t get noticed as often.
LM: Tell me about your background. How did you get into street art?
Rone: I moved to Melbourne around 2000 to study graphic design. I was fascinated by the stencil works by HA-HA, Sync & Psalm that was around at the time. I started painting at skate spots with friends I skated with. Finding spots to skate soon turned into finding spots to paint.
LM: What does your name mean?
Rone: Nothing really, just a nick name that stuck.
LM: What do you enjoy most about the whole street art process? The creation, the night missions etc?
Rone: Hard to say one thing, I guess there is nothing better than seeing your work up a long way from home. I think that’s what a lot of graffiti is about- I was here, I did this.
LM: Who or what inspires you?
Rone: The noise on the walls is what I’ve been looking at lately. The way things decay on the street, rotting & ripped posters, buffed walls etc. The constant battle between artists, bill posters and the buff. I want my artwork to feel like that.
LM: Which artists are you into at the moment? Local and International.
Rone: Locally; Many of the crew on the Y&F line are huge inspirations but i’m always in awe of the work of Merda, Phibs, Twoone & Al stark. International; JR, Blu & ROA are all doing amazing things.
LM: Where do you work from and what is your studio space like?
Rone: I work from Everfresh Studio, the studio looks like a 15 year old vandals dream. I’ve set up a screen printing area to make posters and a bit of a space to paint from.
LM: What is always in your “toolkit”?
Rone: Stickers, posters, glue & a broom.
LM: What has been the highlight (or highlights) of your career to date?
Rone: Being part of the National Gallery of Australia’s collection, Putting on a exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, which gave me a chance to build the Graff mobile.
LM: I’ve been loving your recent work a lot. Tell me about your evolved style and also your recent show “L’inconnue de la Rue”.
Rone: “L’inconnue de la Rue” was my first solo exhibition so I wanted to bring the feel of my work on the street into the gallery. I screen printed a series of posters that became the background for the stenciled portraits. (Video). The idea was to create works the were quite rough and unrefined that contrast against the beauty of the girl. “L’inconnue de la Rue” was inspired by the story of L’Inconnue de la Seine, in which the body of an unknown girl was pulled out of the Seine River in Paris. Her peaceful expression added to the mystery surrounding her death. L’inconnue de la rue was my adaption of the story.
Photos courtesy of Rone