Video by Justin Gaar. Photos by Jason Barbagelott.
JC Ro loves triangles…
So much so, his entire style revolves around using them to construct amazingly simple yet complex paintings and murals—almost like a super fresh take on cubism. For instance, as a tribute to Kobe’s final game in his career—which took place on April 13, 2016—the artist painted a gigantic mural in Los Angeles utilizing exactly 413 triangles (4/13 for all you dummies).
His paintings of celebrities and icons like Kanye, Prince, Kobe, Michael Jordan, and Steve Jobs have garnered a massive following amongst collectors and fans. Rumor has it, Diddy is a proud owner of an original JC Ro piece (and it’s not hard to see why).
We were lucky enough to visit his 10,000 square-foot studio in Long Beach to chat all things art, dogs, pizza, the 1996 Chicago Bulls, and G-SHOCK timepieces. While that’s not all necessarily true, we sure as shit did talk about art, which is worth the price of admission alone.
‘I grew up in Michigan, like just outside of Detroit, and through my love of skating and the fact that its warm in California all year long I moved here to skate. I kinda joke that Long Beach is like Detroit but with palm trees. There’s like a strong music scene, there’s a strong art culture, but the weather is just way nicer here.’
‘There’s this kind of final process that I’ve been doing on a lot of my paintings for the last few years and it involves this clear acrylic that I pour on there and it kind of laminates and preserves the painting, but also provides this protective coating. There’s some stakes involved, obviously, when you make a painting and then you really roll the dice—like oh, if this paint doesn’t mix with this process, or if I didn’t wait long enough, or if I didn’t mix it enough, or if the temperature is not right, what might happen?’
‘I hadn’t gotten to paint any murals back in Detroit, so I figured I’d paint Eminem in here so that way my studio has a little piece of Detroit.’
‘I’m super lucky getting to paint the big murals. It satisfies the silly inner-artist ego. But when I get to paint a mural in a new neighborhood, I gotta be conscious of what I’m giving that neighborhood and whether I’m becoming a part of it or whether I’m fitting in or not. I want to add to everybody’s environment, not take away from it.’