‘Young and Free’ Interviews # 1: Rone

Rone (Melbourne 2010)

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-HASync & 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 MerdaPhibsTwoone & 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.

"L’inconnue de la Rue"
"L’inconnue de la Rue"
Work from "L’inconnue de la Rue" - N
Work from "L’inconnue de la Rue" - Pain & Guilt
Work from "L’inconnue de la Rue" - Colere
Close ups
Close ups
Close ups
Early Rone (Melbourne ~2004)
Rone (Melbourne ~2009)
Rone (Flinders Street station, Melbourne ~2007)
Rone (New York ~2011)

Photos courtesy of Rone

Twoone, Reka & Rone – Live Painting at Metro Gallery in Armadale (Melbourne)

Checked this out on Saturday. A great event run by Metro Gallery. Have a look at their website, a really good gallery with some amazing pieces by some renowned artists (Banksy, Blek Le Rat, HAHA, Damien Hirst, Anthony Lister and Michael Peck to name a few)..

Got there a little late, so missed a lot of Twoone and Reka (sorry guys) but saw Rone from start to end.



Shots of all finished pieces available on Metro’s facebook page.

Photos by Lukey

A very special alley in Melbourne, Australia

A note from RJ: This is Luke’s first guest post on Vandalog. He will be helping us cover street art and graffiti in Melbourne, Australia.

This is an amazing little alleyway in Melbourne. Check out some of the local and international talent. (There’s so much goodness down there so apologies to anyone that I’ve missed.. Next time..)

Whilst it’s not as famous as some other Melbourne streets, it’s by far my favourite. No surprise why this is, this alley is the entrance to the famous ‘Blender Studios‘ http://www.theblenderstudios.com/ (Have a read on their site, Blender is an instrumental part of the history of Melbourne’s vibrant street art scene).

Ok, Here we go:

Reka (Everfresh)
Sync, Phibs (Everfresh), HAHA & more

Continue reading “A very special alley in Melbourne, Australia”

Street Art In Melbourne

Hi there, my name is Alison Young, and I write Images to Live By, a blog about street art. I’m also an academic at the University of Melbourne, and I’m in middle of writing a book about street art and street artists in a number of cities around the world. Thanks, RJ, for inviting me to do a guest post for Vandalog.

So I’m based in Melbourne, Australia, where there is a huge and diverse street art scene. RJ suggested that it might be interesting for Vandalog readers if I could write about street art in Australia… There’s way too much to cover in one or two posts, but I can certainly introduce people to some of the most interesting artists here at the moment.

One of these is Meggs. I’ve written a little bit on Images to Live By about Meggs, because there are many resonances between his work and that of the British artist D*Face and the Australian artist now living in New York, Anthony Lister, both of whom may be better known to you than Meggs. All three of those artists are interested in the connections between superheroes, masculinity, money and popular culture, and all three use their media to re-present comic strip figures as being in crisis or under stress (click here if you want to read more about this and here for a link to Meggs’s website for more info about his work).

Up till now, Meggs has probably not been too well known outside Australia, but folks in LA are about to get an opportunity to see his work, in a show entitled ‘Crime and Charity’ at Cerasoli Gallery in Culver City.

Here’s a brief description from the gallery about the show:

“In 2007 Australia’s Victorian State Government passed the ‘Graffiti Prevention Act’. This legislation extended the government’s zero tolerance approach to Graffiti and provided police new authority to search any person, vehicle or object they suspect to possess a graffiti implement, within close proximity of public transport.
Ironically, this legislation was passed while Tourism Victoria was using Graffiti and street art to promote Melbourne Tourism on television and web advertisements. Melbourne’s laneways are a big drawcard for tourism and it is undeniable that the diverse artwork is part of the city’s broader cultural appeal.

Graffiti and street art will never disappear. Despite the State Government’s negativity, there are well documented social contributions and benefits provided by many artists, cultural tourism being one. Unfortunately these are only recognised when it is conveniently leveraged for commercial gain.

‘Crime & Charity’ depicts the frustration Meggs feels in the face of this hypocrisy. The characters depicted in his artwork are hybrids of guilt and innocence, both frustrated and persecuted for being part of a culture that is simultaneously celebrated and condemned.”

The work of Melbourne-based artists Ghostpatrol and Miso is very different from that of Meggs, but just as Meggs’s work has been a huge part of making Melbourne’s street art scene what it is today (Meggs is part of the Everfresh crew, famous for putting up all over the city’s buildings), so has that of Miso and Ghospatrol. These two artists have worked in galleries and on the streets for the last several years. Their work primarily uses the skills of drawing and cutting: they create meticulously drawn figures often reminiscent of childhood fairytales. These are sometimes drawn onto unusual surfaces, like a row of pencils (Ghostpatrol, click on this link and scroll down to see some examples) or painted on to a wall like this:

Miso creates beautiful paste-ups, with intricate cut-out sections, on to a wall or a flat piece of wood. Her work sometimes reminds people of the images made by Swoon and Elbow Toe, but I think there are also really interesting evocations of fin-de-siecle artists like Egon Schiele in the magnificently textured images: have a look at Miso’s website for some images of her work.

Ghostpatrol and Miso work both individually and together, and have made paste-ups from photographs of themselves wearing fox masks to disguise their identities – hundreds of these paste-ups appeared around certain areas of Melbourne for a while, a wonderful expression of the street artist as fox (a creature of cunning and stealth which visits the city at night).


From foxes to bushrangers: one of the most famous figures in Australian history and iconography is the bushranger Ned Kelly, a 19th century outlaw figure hunted and eventually hanged by the Melbourne authorities. The artist Ha Ha (also known as Regan Tamanui) has said, ‘Street artists are the bushrangers of the 21st century’, because of the challenge to authority represented by illicit street art. Ha Ha’s work has been hugely important in defining the nature of street art in Melbourne, especially in the early 2000s, thanks to the prevalence of his stencils all over the city. Check out his website to get a sense of his work. He has a particular fondness for robot figures, but he is also interested in celebrity and notoriety:

Hosier Lane#16.JPG

In this image you can see a portrait stencilled behind the bars over a section of the wall in this laneway (Hosier Lane). The face is that of Mario Condello, an individual thought to be involved in Melbourne’s gangland wars, and who is represented here by Ha Ha in the same way that he stencilled his famous portrait of that other outlaw, Ned Kelly:

Image taken from Ha Ha's myspace site.
Image taken from Ha Ha's myspace site.

I’ll end by going back to where I started, with Meggs’s show in LA, which draws attention to the paradox of the state government here creating harsh new laws against graffiti and street art at the same time as it seeks to make money out of it by using images of street art in its tourism ads. All of the artists I’ve mentioned risk  these penalties every time they put up on the street, as is the case in most countries of course. But as you can see from the way that these Australian artists are representing themselves – as struggling superheroes, as foxes and outlaws – we are being given these fantastic images at a high cost: the weight of illegality upon the artists.