Based in Glasgow, RogueOne (or Rogueoner) has been mastering his skill with a spraycan for over 20 years. His pieces are instantly recognisable for their sheer size and breathtaking realism. He is a free hand artist that paints graffiti pieces and graphic characters but is mostly known for his large murals. He makes a steady living painting commissioned work around Scotland and is much respected throughout the Scottish art scene.
I caught up with Rogue One, and below is how it went down.
Hey Rogue One how is it going? For people that don’t know you or your work, could you give them a little bit of background?
I’m from Glasgow, Scotland and I’ve been going by the name Rogueone for over 20 years. Painting graffiti pieces, characters and photo-realism.
Do you recall your first memories on your interests in art?
I’ve had an interest in art all my life and my interest in graffiti art came about in the late 80’s due to hip hop culture spreading out across the world. Some of the older guys in my area where doing graffiti pieces and tagging. Maybe because it was so colourful or because it seemed rebellious I wanted to do it too. I tagged a few different names and by the 90’s I started using the name Rogue.
A lot of street artists started as graffiti writers, then developed their styles and became muralists. How was it for you starting up and what took you to the streets?
I’m the same as a lot of others, I started as a graffiti writer but my interest in classic art did make me focus more on character work. I think that’s the way many artists are, some are more focused and drawn to letters or typography and some are focused and drawn to characters. Together they make a good team. As my interest in character painting grew and developed it moved from a comic graphic style to a more photo-realistic style. Then the walls started to get bigger. I suppose this is what’s took me into muralism.
Some artists claim that street art and graffiti fall under the umbrella of illegal work, while murals are more commissioned, therefor legal and understood as painting. Do you agree with these distinctions or not? And why?
The distinction between illegal and legal art is a hard and confusing one for many people. The obvious and common illegal painting is the graffiti on trains and tagging on the streets with some writers bold enough to do full colourful pieces out there on a street corner but many of the graffiti pieces you see in magazines or on the internet are actually on legal walls or done in quiet abandoned spaces. The legal wall with its graffiti then became a bigger legal wall with more graffiti and characters, then it became an even bigger wall perhaps with just character painting and so it became murals. Now there’s legal walls with loads of graffiti art and there’s big walls with murals. The whole thing is now mixed up with graffiti artists who prefer character painting doing murals but also art school students that have picked up the spraycan now doing murals. Art school students doing street art, people doing stencil painting, people doing brush painting, people doing paste – ups and then graffiti letter forms too. I suppose it’s just the way graffiti art has grown and developed as it moved bigger and away from hip hop culture. Though this has of course created lots of arguments and hatred. Graffiti writers have always had a hard time because the common person doesn’t understand their confusing letter forms and so like the art world’s abstract, expressionism and cubism people might look at them and feel they don’t get it. They don’t realise the process and skills these graffiti artists have mastered. Murals on the other hand with their character work or classic artistic style are easy for the common person to understand and feel an attachment too. It’s a very deep question and I could go on for hours, write a book even, but let’s just say that whether it’s illegal graffiti, legal graffiti, tagging, stickers, stencils, paste – ups or murals, their all very talented artists and certainly very creative people.
How much does your art affect or influence your everyday life and are there any role models or artists who inspired you?
My art affects pretty much all my life. Almost everything I think about and read about is art related. Consumed by a world of urban art. I’m not the most talkative person and sometimes the only way to get me to talk is to start a conversation about art. I’m inspired by everything and everyone. Culture is a big influence. Many artists inspire me. I love so many bits of work I see every day online and my favourite artists change so often. I would write a list here of my favourite artists but then this interview would go on forever! Let’s just say every graffiti artist and street artist in the world are my favourites. All of them!
Are you creatively satisfied?
I’m never creatively satisfied. I want to be immortal so I can paint forever!
If you could collaborate with anyone — dead or alive, celebrity, artist, company — who would it be and why?
If I could collaborate with any dead artist it would have to be the Renaissance artists like Michel Anglo, Raphael or Botticelli. It would be such an interest to show them what can be done on walls now with spraypaint. If I could paint with any famous celebrity I think perhaps it would be Peter Falk (columbo) and when we where finishing our painting and I said I think that’s us done, he’d say “just one one thing” lol.
Have you painted in the USA? If so, how was your experience like?
Sadly no. I haven’t had the chance to paint in the USA but I certainly would love to. This will even follow into your next question.
Is there something you wished you did and now regret you never did it?
I would have liked to see and maybe even paint at the five points in New York. It’s a real shame it’s gone.
The internet innately separates the creator from the audience. What are your thoughts on social media, and how it helps or hurts artists today?
Again this is quite an intense deep question and you could probably write a book about it but I’ll try to keep this as short as I can. Firstly the internet has been good for giving exposure to artists from all over the world. Artists like myself that aren’t from the main major countries. Before the internet it was all about magazines and these where like New York, London, Berlin and Hamburg magazines, that quite often focused on graffiti art from their cities. Some of them did branch out to other cities helping to show more art but the internet is so much more, worldwide access at your finger tips. The freedom websites and social media has for every artist to post and show their work is boundless. It’s great that so much art can be out there. Though of course as you say in your question, the photos of art can be separated from the creator. Many sites like Instagram and Flickr can then have other people with their own street art or photography pages taking these art photos and showing them, sometimes without artists name, just to gain popularity for themselves. Some of these pages are great and helpful but some of them are stupid pages ran by kids sitting in their bedroom that don’t even do graffiti art and are completely dissociated from the real scene. Copyright laws and photos being taken and used is another problem. With so many art pics out there its easy for people or companies to take your art and use it for their own benefit and with no appropriate laws to help stop that. Another situation with the internet and it’s pages is this self obsession with likes and followers, sometimes I feel people care more about that than the art itself. But even with all of the internet’s problems and annoyances it is still a good thing and like I said at the start it helps all artists from every city in the world try and show people what they can do. It also helps this art culture to grow bigger and better and connects you with like minded people, make new friends and travel the world. You just have to cut through the crap.
Outside of the creating realm, away from screens, what activities occupy your time? Is it difficult to find a balance between “work” and “play”?
It is difficult to find a balance between work and play. Sometimes I work so much on commissioned paintings I don’t find the time for my own paintings. It also means when I do get the free time to do my own work I don’t then get to do other interests as much. Luckily in Scotland it’s very wet, so unlike a lot of other artists around the world who get to enjoy the sunshine for a fun paint, I’m stuck indoors checking the weather forecast. Plenty of bad weather does mean I can do some of my other hobbies, which I have many of, scale model painting and building, planes, cars, tanks and so on. I like to make fully detailed dioramas. I also collect helmets, mostly historic helmets but also some famous movie helmets, some of which if their too expensive to buy I will make myself. I quite like to customize things too. Others hobbies include snowboarding, hiking and climbing.
What’s something about you that would surprise our readers?
Haha something that would surprise the readers….. well, there’s probably loads. I’m a bit of a crazy person. I was a dancer for a techno group when I was younger. I was also Glasgow junior green bowls champion, I have a trophy and everything. Lol. I’ve broke nearly every bone in my body due to extreme sports and getting myself into drunken trouble. I’ve been ran over by cars four times and I’ve streaked naked across a beach. That’s just a few! Any of my friends reading this would probably say these aren’t even the best ones! Lol.
What can we look forward to seeing from you next? What collaborations, shows or projects do you have planned?
I don’t really have anything planned. I take things as they come. I suppose a few things ahead of me are an event in my hometown of Glasgow called Yardworks at a big studio warehouse called SWG3. It’s Glasgow’s and Scotland’s first big fully organised and sponsored urban art event. Keep an eye out for this, Scotland is trying to get on the map! I also have a few commissions to do but nothing exciting. Perhaps I might be painting in Paris, Vitry sur Seine, later in the year. What ever happens I will be keeping myself busy and creative month after month.
Any words of advice for aspiring new artists?
My only aspiring words for new artists would be just do it because you love it! If you have a real passion for something you will never stop! 😉
Thanks for the interview. Peace and creativity.
Thank you Rogue One for your time and hope we see you stateside in the near future. Until then keep beautifying our streets.