UK based urban pulp iconographer and Art Nouveau cover artist TONE kicked off his solo exhibition at Dock St Market recently (Nov 1). He was kind enough to give us a few words about his bright and graphic inspired works of art.
Art Nouveau: You go by the name TONE, tell me about the origins of the name?
TONE: Basically as my name is Anthony/Tony i needed something crisp, so i went for TONE to use on the streets for my paste-ups and spray-ups.
AN: How old are you?
TONE: I am 26 year old boy who is starting to slowly look around 40 due to my early morning rises and late night creative bursts. My face can tell many yarns.
AN: Tell me about your background in the arts.
TONE: My background in the arts started off when i was very young… i was enthralled with Manga, especially Street Fighter and Akira, so i spent my days playing Nintendo and Sega, collecting comic books, redrawing characters and creating my own. As i progressed and got older i went to college for 2 years and gained a BTEC in graphic design, everything i learned in the ‘art scene’ is self taught through trial and error. Then my art took a more mature angle and i created zine covers, online blog art and t-shirts for the football/soccer casuals market, using violence, Adidas footwear and football hooliganism as a main theme. I decided i needed to break away from that scene to pursue my changing interests where spray paint, street art, collage and more media came to my attention and i decided to get my hands dirty. During this time, i was in contact with a few celebrities regarding promo work… namely ‘Real Goodfella‘ Henry Hill (RIP), actor Jeremy London and front man of Hollywood rockers The Icarus Line, Joe Cardamone. I also had alot of time unleashing my street art in NYC, Chicago, Paris and various cities across the UK.
AN: Tell me about your process of creating work.
TONE: The process to create my work is pretty simple… i won’t go into mega detail, but all i need is a Sharpie, Paper, PVA Glue, Brushes, Spray Cans, Comic Books, a keen eye and a headful of crazy ideas. I start out by sketching out my idea using shapes and words, i then draw out the character in illustrator using a mouse (bad for the wrist) and play about with the whole idea using different colour pallets to create the sort of aesthetic i have in my mind, the background work is the fun part, as i scour old comic books, flyers, posters, cd booklets, magazines for interesting imagery and slap it all down onto canvas or board to photograph to use digitally in reproduction prints. On many occasion the whole canvas is covered with awesome graphics, where i will then stencil an image and spray paint onto it to create a one-off piece. As of now…. each piece of art i create is closely attached to my feelings, merging powerful images and heartfelt songs lyrics in dedication to my 16 month old daughter Eden Loren Thornton.
AN: How has comic book art inspired you?
TONE: Comic art has been a major player in all of my work, from growing up reading British classics such as the Beano and Dandy, to X-Men, Spider Man, Lobo and Street Fighter to more classic works such as, Romanc Comics and Ghost World. They all have kept me doing what i enjoy, all i have to do is pick up and comic and ideas will be flowing for my next piece. Music is also a key aspect in my work, citing many Black Flag, Pearl Jam, Blind Melon, The Smiths and whatever else is curdling my emotional cauldron.
AN: What fuels you more: Street art work or work made for galleries?
TONE: Easy… street art! always will be! The thought of having a whole town/city as a blank canvas to work is magnificent, not hiding the fact it is deemed as vandalism, this pushes me more to get out there and find great spots to see how long my work will stay up, the adrenaline and planning that goes into a late night mission is what it is all about, the fact that civilians and art lovers have street art available to them on a daily basis makes me happy knowing we live in an era where creative types like ourselves can vent our emotions on the worlds canvas, it is always a challenge which i thrive on.
AN: How important is your skin, or visual aesthetic to your style of work?
TONE: It shouldn’t really be as important as it is to me but it is… i j’adore tattoos and tattoo artwork from artists such as Mario Desa, Joseph Ari Aloi and Mike Giant. When people see me and notice my tattoos it strikes up a conversation, whether it be friends or total strangers, it is always good to talk. Each tattoo i have holds it’s own story from my past and everyday they remind me of the things i have done, and this pushes me to do more. On the visual aesthetic side to things… again this is an important aspect, if you want to command respect in your area you have to look the part, there’s nothing wrong with feeling comfortable, yet dapper in this thing of ours.
AN: What’s next for you?
TONE: I have a whole new ball park opened up to me as I have relocated to the city, so more project space is available, contacts and opportunities. I am in the early stages of planning an exhibition at Dock St Market in Leeds, UK which will showcase my latest offerings to the public, i have issue 1 of my zine ‘FAKEIZM’ available at Quimby’s, Chicago, and then hopefully getting back into the swing of things with my clothing label co CEO Tom Beattie, as we hope to push it to full on global effect. The world is my oyster… anything can happen.
AN: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
TONE: Think i’ve pretty much covered everything there. I just want to say though… I’m doing all this for Eden.
#WatchThisSpace Find this editorial and much more in Art Nouveau’s 9th issue entitled SKIN. Click here to get your copy!