What’s going on man, tell us a little about yourself
Hello everyone, my name is Angel aka Rome Won. I’m originally from R0chester, New York, but i’ve spent the last 20 years here in Chicago. I’ve been an artist for 25 years. Currently, i’m working on my next body of work called “Layers”. I will be displaying this new body of work this July in Denver at Four Site Gallery.
Lets start from the beginning, how and when did you first start getting involved with art?
Growing up I was naturally drawn to drawing. I began practicing and practicing until I was beginning to get the hang of things. Right away, I had known that Art was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Growing up in Rochester, how did that help influence your artwork?
I don’t know if it necessarily influenced my artwork, but it’s where I began my journey as an artist. Rochester is the roots of my early days involvement within the hip-hop community.
Did your artwork begin to change when you transitioned into living in Chicago?
I definitely had to change things up when I got to Chicago. Chicago brought the emotions out of me. I begun to see a lot more aggression not only in me, but in my work. Living here helped me really focus in on what it was I wanted to accomplish as an artist.
How’s Chicago’s graffiti scene in your eyes?
One thing I can say is, the quote, “I’m impressed with the people from Chicago. Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work” – is very true. Chicago isn’t for the weak when it comes to making an impact and looking to get noticed in the graffiti scene. Chicago is a great center point for graffiti, we are located right in the middle of both coasts, so we are accustomed to many different styles here.
Becoming an artist doesn’t require a college degree, why did you decide to attend The American Academy of Art?
Growing up, like I said, I knew Art was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. There were still some things I needed to learn and perfect before being taken seriously as an artist. I thought to myself, I need to attend College, what better way to learn and network with brand new people. I figured in no way would college be a poor decision, so I enrolled.
What skills/traits were you able to take away from college that helped benefit you?
The best part about College was being able to take in brand new knowledge. For the first time I was being exposed to designing, color theory, Art history, bone structure, and many different mediums. Being able to learn these mediums formed me into a well rounded artist, which in the long run only benefited me even more. Another big thing I learned in College was the business of art. It’s very important as an Artist to understand the business side behind your artwork. If you have the creative talent and business background, you will succeed.
After 25+ years of being involved with graffiti and artistic culture, what continues to motivate you?
For me, proving people wrong is what has always motivated me. I would consider myself an underdog and i’m perfectly okay with that. At the end of the day, my work will always speak for itself.
For someone who is a bit older, how do you feel about the social media generation for artists?
With everything in life, there’s always going to be a good and a bad. For me, i’d say social media is a great platform, but, it has its limits. With social media we are able to get instant gratification for anything we put out, which, could be good or bad, depending on how well you take criticism. Social media is also a cool way to stay on top what other artists are doing. By seeing what others are doing, communication gets developed, which then can grow into relationships, business moves, etc.
Are production walls helping bring the negative stereotypes out of graffiti?
Production walls are great for graffiti artists. Unfortunately, the roots of graffiti have always been illegal, so the stereotypes will always be around. As i’ve gotten older, that’s something i’ve learned to not even care about.
The art business is a very hard business to prosper in, does the term selling out mean anything to you anymore?
That word means absolutely nothing. At the end of the day, i’m grown and a family man with bills that need to be paid. I’m going to do whatever it is I need to do to provide for my family and I.
Looking back on it, if you never got involved with art, what do you think you would be doing with your life?
Man, that’s something that’s hard to even think about. I’ve always been involved with art and had wanted to be an artist.
If you could teach or tell the new generation of graffiti writers, what would it be?
Here is my answer, this goes out to anyone, artist or not, always stay focused and challenge yourself with each project you take on.
Awesome interview Angel! Delving into graffiti/street art has shown me another side of you that is very deep. “Do your thang Hiram!”