As far as art on walls go the RockGroup™ are right up there my favourites so I’m always pleased to get some time with one of them. O.Two is a founder member the in the rG™ and his work has graced all kinds of mediums. Truly a dark destroyer he has a style which is just plain rock and roll.
TSG :: Care to introduce yourself?
O.Two :: My name is O.Two. Born 1979. London based. Artist, malcontent & rockGroup™ co-founder. My work is rooted in teenage delinquency, traditional typography and New York graffiti.
Currently negotiating a ten year sponsorship deal with Heineken.
TSG :: So you were recently touring the states find out anything surprising about life on the road?
It was a three month road trip, from British Columbia in Canada, down the West Coast to Baja Mexico, with some detours along the way… Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and a touch on Texas. Of those three months, two of them were spent travelling alone.
What surprised me most, was how difficult it is to find real solitude. Even lost in the desert, it’s hard to feel really alone. Which is partly what I was out there for.
The other surprise was discovering that I really don’t need to be rooted in one place to do what I do. And that to be moving, can be the same as being static. I much prefer constant change and progress. It’s unnatural for artists, or anyone, to be rooted in one place.
TSG :: So did you get a lot of painting done while touring around?
It was strange. I had expected a comprehensive tour of duty, I’d equipped myself with enough paint to do some real damage. But being a stranger in foreign parts, I held the landscape with a little more reverence than I do my own territory. It didn’t feel quite right. Of course I found some good spots to paint, and met some good people, but as far as getting pieces up on walls, I wasn’t too fussed, it was good just to be somewhere new, seeing new places and new things.
There were some spots I just couldn’t pass up; an abandoned trailer park, and a trio of forties era Ford Sedan corpses slowly rusting in the Arizona desert. Too good to miss.
The Aircraft Boneyards in Tucson were ridiculous. Had they not been guarded so heavily, I probably would have spent months in them going slowly insane, painting everything in sight.
TSG :: Sounds amazing though, I saw some incredible and humbling scenery in Western Australia, but again you’d need the long haul. Are you intent on a second tour over there or elsewhere?
Absolutely. I’m not done yet, not by a long shot. A little bit of Europe before I head back to the States though.
TSG :: Would you consider doing the same in the UK, or would you end up sacking it just trying to get out of London?
I’ve thought about it. But we don’t have quite the same ‘Road’ culture in the U.K.
America is designed for the motor vehicle, it’s so big, it’s hard not to drive huge distances. England can be done in a few weeks. You need months, years even, for the States.
TSG :: Have you ever seen Hobo glyphs, like symbols for hobos to know what’s going on in that area?
Yeah, I’m dubious. Sounds like hobos having a laugh at the expense of misguided, over enthusiastic anthropologists.
TSG :: Yes, it probably is, it would be quite nice if that were the case too. Do you feel your own art gets interpreted the way you like it, or is that even an issue as long as people enjoy it?
It’s open to any interpretation. It’s so personal, I can’t expect people to clock everything, and get everything, but if they’re into it, then that’s good enough for me. It always good when someone spots the details that I never expected them to; a letter-form, a nod to Parisian hand-styles or whatever.
It’s good to hear people come up with their own, completely unexpected ideas of what the images and forms represent. It adds another layer of meaning to it, because art is as much about what the artist means it to be, as what it means to the viewer.
TSG :: If you weren’t painting in the RockGroup™, would you join a rock band?
I don’t think so. I’d probably be a roadie. I don’t play any instruments, or have the patience to learn. I’d want to be able to shred instantly, and shredibility only comes after years of blood and sweat. I don’t think I’ve got that many years left in me… so I’ll stick to what I know.
TSG :: Where would you be if black never existed?
Black would never not have existed. It’s the one, pure constant, the absence of light, it’s what remains once everything else is gone. Take everything away, everything we know and get rid, what’s left? Empty black.
TSG :: Who’s the blackest?
Those who think they are the purest, are the blackest of heart.
TSG :: Damn nice answers, I was thinking of Ronnie James Dio. Did you know he was involved in a charity record called ‘Hear’N Aid’ – a metal equivalent of Band Aid? The name is awful but the line-up was crazy. Could most defiantly be a case of too many cooks though, or just amazing/terrible.
Fuck Dio. If we’re talking black like that? Burzum. No contest.
TSG :: I know you’re into skateboarding, do you still trundle around regularly? Dunno if you’re aware of your arterior cruciate ligament, I’ve done popped fibres in mine twice and now my knee feels like it crunches around a bit, my days are over on a whizz plank.
I’m very aware of my arterior cruciate ligament – I twisted my right knee and shaved fibres from it when I was 19, my knee has never been the same. I don’t skate as much as I want to anymore. Once in a while I’ll get out, I will always own a skateboard, and will always ride it, but not in the same way I did when I was younger, with no job, no bills, no girlfriend, and nothing to do on the weekends.
I ride a snowboard once or twice a year, which is more fun than I ever thought it would be.
I used to be a purist, only skateboarding. But then a friend traded a canvas for a snowboard, and some kit, and helped me get started and that was it. It’s so yuppie it hurts, but I love it. It’s like skating, without the pain, and higher, longer airs… so much fun.
TSG :: Yes being in Scotland means you’re obliged to try it at least once, especially if you skate, plus in my youth my friend was a pro snowboarder and so went up with him a few times. Ever visited Scotland for some snow?
No, I haven’t. I haven’t even been to Scotland before. This year though, some friends and I are planning a trip to Kashmir for some powder.
TSG :: Did you hold onto any old boards for the graphics or are their any you’d love to have? I’ve still got a nice Jason Jesse Sun God, Ventures, blue grip, cell blocks etc, I also forgot how heavy they were back then.
I don’t think I have too much of my old stuff. I have a few old tees, but none of the old boards. I wish I had thought to start collecting the Hecox Chocolate boards, the portrait series they did in ’97 was so good. Some of the early Zoo boards (before Echo bought them out and all that noise) had some nice graphics.
In ’97 I was pretty young, 16, 17, so it was hard enough affording a board just to skate back then, let alone collecting them all for my wall.
TSG :: Indeed the potraits, pool and street Hecox scenes were amazing. Zoo did kill it with their look back then. Think that was Eli Gesner? Plus they had Ricky Oyola too right.
Yes, Eli Gesner and Rodney Smith. Oyola is still one of my favourite skaters. Such a sick style. That East Coast style really felt like real skateboarding, rolling through town hitting whatever came up, fluid, natural skateboarding.
I’m not so into hunting for old stuff nowadays though, that kind of nostalgia is counterproductive. Don’t get me wrong, I love it all, but I can’t be looking back. Skateboards are for riding on, not bidding on.
TSG :: Would you like to do a series for a skate company?
Absolutely. I’ve had offers to do board graphics, but they’ve never felt quite right. A snowboard graphic would be nice to do.
TSG :: I know you’re into Hot Rod cars too, what is it about that style that particularly appeals to you?
The cars and bikes are just beautiful. That’s all it comes down to. It makes complete sense to have a car, built exactly as you want it, your paint, your spec, every detail, everything down to you. Why wouldn’t you? Also, driving a car or a bike too fast, or just on the roads these days, there’s a high chance it will kill you (which adds to the ride, of course…) but it would be such a bummer to die in a shitty, factory stock car.
TSG :: Have you heard of Koolsville, it’s a Scottish rock n’ roll magazine?
I have now.
TSG :: Is there any product/place you’d really like to get up on?
I’m never too sure about putting my work on products. ‘Products’ imply mass production, and the way most artists work is the opposite to this process.
I get asked what would be my ideal collaboration or project to work on, and I usually say a top to bottom piece on a 6 Line subway car in 1981, but that aint really going to come off. Maybe a project doing backgrounds and set design for a Michael Mann film. Nose art for a UH-1 Huey.
If I wasn’t so worried about the health implications, and the Russian Military guards, Pripyat and Chernobyl would be incredible sites for some large scale work.
TSG :: I’ve met a few tweaked writers in my time, not that I’m implying anything. Do you think the fumes might have been the reason? I think I’m developing a mouse grip claw hahaha. I hope BUPA cover that.
It’s more to do with mindset. You have to be cut from a different cloth to put the kind of commitment and time into writing one’s name that most writers put in. No other artists risk so much for their art. Incarceration, heartbreak, ill health, death. I don’t know any other form of self expression that plays such high stakes.
Except maybe being a stuntman, and that’s just plain stupid.
TSG :: So let’s focus on the now and future, what’s planned before the year is out?
In the immediate future, I have some work in a group show in the Recoat Gallery in Glasgow coming up in August, and another group show in Brighton before the end of the Summer. I’ve been in the screen printing studio making some new editions, very short runs, with hand painted details.
As for the future, I try not to think too far ahead. I just want to paint more, travel more, and sweat the details less.
TSG :: Thanks man, sounds good. We’ll continue this for sure.