Makers' Stories : JonOne

Makers’ Stories : JonOne

With Makers' Stories, Habile portrays personalities who give their all to their work. From their inspirations to their creations, they open the doors of their imagination and share their daily life with us.

Today, HABILE meets JonOne, a famous New York painter and graffiti artist straight out of Harlem and now settled in France, in Roubaix. His impressive career makes him one of the best artists of his kind. He founded the 156 All Starz graffiti collective, and was able to rub shoulders with the greatest: Bando, Rockin' Squat, A-One, Sharp... Gods of the bomb from whom he learns and challenges his art. Very quickly, his work is noticed, and he is exhibited in the most prestigious galleries, from Berlin to Paris through New York and Tokyo.

Between spontaneity and love of work well done, his vibrant art knows how to leave its mark.

It's a good thing: that's his ambition.

One might think that just wanting to leave behind "a joy of living" is not necessarily a particularly ambitious artist's project.

And yet for JonOne, this joy of living is a particularly rare commodity. Especially in today's world, where everything goes fast and we no longer take the time to be amazed.

So he brings out this joy in bursts of color in his works. Red, yellow, black, blue, purple, green... In his studio, stained with paint from the floor to the ceiling, he tries to create works like diamonds: rough, but when you look at them, they project hundreds of colors and make your eyes sparkle. A bit like his own, when he talks about his art.

But beware: no folie de grandeur with JonOne. And yet he could boast about it, when you look at the staggering sums reached by his works at auction, or his career marked by notorious collaborations with major brands: Guerlain, Perrier, Hennessy, Lacoste, Agnès B...

In all modesty, he believes that he owes his success to the fact that he was "in the right place at the right time", but also to the people who surrounded him and pushed him to give the best of himself. By dint of being in contact with artists, he considers that he has gradually discovered a new way of seeing the world, and has immediately made it his mission to take action rather than to remain in contemplation.

Yes: far from the perched theories on the value or the gifts fallen from the sky of an artist, JonOne is down to earth: "If you want to be a dancer, you dance. If you want to be an artist, you paint. It's as simple as that. You paint and show what you can do. "

For him, the artist shapes himself and truly becomes who he is by doing. The image of the artists who chain cigarettes on the terrace while reworking the world with big words, and sometimes create masterpieces when they go home drunk at night? She is far from him.

The only way to be a real artist for JonOne is by living in action, and taking things seriously. Sketching all the time, working every day, screwing up sometimes... But painting.

To paint, to paint, to paint, because that remains the best way to be a painter.

But also and above all to last in time: of course there are shooting stars that shine for a year or two. But for JonOne, the most important thing is not to have an ephemeral success, but rather a career that lasts and that pushes him to look always higher and always further. So instead of luck, he prefers hard work.

Especially since by working ceaselessly, one can also better reinvent oneself. It is by exploring one's own field of possibilities that one discovers new techniques and new possibilities that one had not even considered. This is why JonOne sets no limits in terms of media or style. Watercolor, gouache, black and white, thickness, finesse, graphics, sculpture... He opens all doors to find the right one, and refuses nothing.

Multi-generational in spite of a style strongly inspired by the 80's in colors and energy, JonOne has his eyes turned towards the future, or at least deeply anchored in the present. Hence the need to constantly evolve his style, to better adapt to the times while keeping his style.

And his style, if we had to summarize it in one word? Vibrant. Vibrant with colors, audacity, explosions. With JonOne, even forgotten colors find their place. At the moment, for example, he has a passion for blue and grey. Surprisingly neutral shades compared to his colorful universe, which he finds every day in the sky of Northern France where he has set up his new studio. Why these colors? They inspire him because they allow him to better see and highlight the bright palette that predominates in his work. Of course, the South is more like the warm tones of his paintings. But there is nothing like a striking contrast to better sublimate the unexpected.

With his face smeared with fresh paint, he also explains that each of his paintings hides a beautiful story of patience, a bit like wine. The "stroke of genius" canvases made on a whim? Not really: between each layer of a canvas, there can be 3 to 6 months of drying... Which, rather than generating frustration, rejoices JonOne: it gives him the impression of having the power to stop time... And time is sorely needed in this society of hurried people where we want to have everything right away.

That's why it's so important for him to succeed in capturing attention.

"If I can help people feel 10 minutes of joy in their day with my paintings... Well that's great. he confides with a smile.

A beautiful ambition for this artist with talented modesty who lives in the hope of leaving behind him "a great multicolored trace".

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