Ahead of his show on the 19th of this Month at Stolen Space gallery, Don’t Panic caught up with Vandal Extraordinaire and renowned street artist Ronzo as he prepares.
What made you want to get into street art?
I loved the idea of not asking for permission to put artwork up, and not PANDERING to some gallery to ask if they can exhibit you. This is what I like about street art, because it is very instant, you just put it up for the people to see.
Which artists inspired you when you first got into the movement?
Loads of people, guys like WK Interact, the gorilla posters when I first came to London, I thought were really wicked. And obviously Banksy and Shepard Fairey. Generally so many people and graffiti writers.
What is the concept of your new show?
Well the idea behind it is from real life experience in the East End. Just walking around and observing these crazy characters and what they are up to and everything and adding a little bit of an artistic, cartoony type twist and just rebuilding a whole block of council flats and little estates. It is a parody or irony version of real life and London borough.
What was the street art scene like in Munich when you lived there? What were your first impressions of the street art scene in London?
I haven’t been there so long but there wasn’t any street art I think in Germany when I was there, it was pure graff, just big silver pieces and whatever. And when I got here I was a little bit like where was all the graff? and I wasn’t really into street art, but more into graffiti. I think in Germany there was loads of graffiti at the time. And London was a bit more quirky with art students putting little posters up and stuff .They wouldn’t have that in Germany; they would not that it serious. But now its changed everbody wants to do that artistic style and not so much the chrome pieces.
The title of your show is called Crackney’s Finest. Why did you decide to call it this?
It’s a cream of the crop from the area, out of crackney, the best of the best all assembled for the show. There is a cockroach making pizza, some crack whores prostitutes, dealing squirrels and dodgy characters
Why did you choose London as the city landscape of your post apocalyptic base?
There is no special reason it is mainly because I run around here everyday basically.
How did this theme or idea come about?
What I hope that I am doing with my work is forming a little running joke with the people from the area. For example Hackney is referred to as Crackney. I want to do stuff that people from the area relate to, It is basically doing the opposite of some really poncy artistic concept that nobody gets, which is why I m trying to keep it simple and punchy so people can relate to it
You work in a variety different mediums and practices; three dimensional, 2D, Street Art, sculpture etc. Which forms do you feel you work best with?
I love obviously working with everything, but I feel what I enjoy most is drawing characters and coming out with little creatures and stuff is what I enjoy most.
How did you get involved with Stolen Space?
I have been painting with these guys for a long time and I got tired of working from home. I had all these model making materials, and concrete and casts for my characters all on the floor and under the mattress and it was all a little bit too much, and then we looking to getting some studio space and stolen space was there and then we just got together
The monsters you unleashed on the city are very distinctive, what is your fascination with monsters?
Since I was little I was fascinated with Science Fiction movies which just got stuck in my head, films like War of the Worlds, Critters, and Body Snatchers, and Godzilla movies and computer games.
Could you explain the idea behind the trio of credit Crunch Monster’s you drilled into place at the City boundaries earlier this year?
At the start of the recession I just made this mascot of the credit crunch, because I just liked the name. For a figure as well like the thing or The Incredible Hulk. Everybody was down about the recession and everybody lost their jobs and money, so I thought it said enough but just to find a funny and ironic take at the subject because everybody was so down. At the time I never had any work or money either, and I spent all my savings to buy all the materials and I thought fuck it at least I’ll make something. Like a sort of last stand. From then on it slowly got better and things moved on , and now it is a monument looking back at the time. I thought why the credit crunch can’t have a monument? The little ones I did in February was just to celebrate the end of it when they announced it was all over now and everything was going to be blossom, so I thought I should make a little reminder.
The detail that goes into your 3D relief pieces is incredible. Do you sketch out everything first or build these “apocalyptic” worlds in your mind and then freestyle them?
I always sketch, all the time and then some stuff I build and work with a team of people, super skilled craftsmen. I got some men in a workshop, so if it gets too tricky or too crazy, I get help in sorting out the details and reproductions to make the moulds and everything. It is almost like impossible I think to do it all by yourself, but obviously I like to be involved in all sort of processes; 3D, 2D, drawing, sculpting, painting, spray painting animation whatever really.
Your work is different from most of the street art that is out there, do you feel that you are different, or would you put yourself in the same label?
I am not a big fan of labels altogether. I guess people put labels on because if people want to invest or buy your art, or make money they want some label like this is Gucci, or this is street art or this is expressionism, or cubist painters la di a. So that in that respect it gives people a frame to put you in, but myself I just want to be creative and do stuff. If it looks a little bit different then so be it. It is all about standing out from the rest.
What can we look forward to in the future?
In the future you can defiantly look forward to more crazy characters, sculpture and installations and all sorts. Most of all a massive giant cockroach driving around the gallery this Thursday. At the show there will be a cockroach pizza delivery boy with him driving around a miniature version of the city. There will be a takeaway called “Roacheo’s”, where a cockroach makes junk food and stuff, and one of the characters is made into a real life sculpture and is driving around in the gallery on his moped.