Images © Anthony Rondinone

Interview with Anthony Rondinone

Interview with Anthony Rondinone

What is your first memory of being creative? (Project, specific artwork, etc.)

As kids, we had a tradition of making our own Christmas ornaments each year. My dad was a maintenance man at a hospital in the Bronx, so he would bring home scrap wood and we would cut it into the shape of a cartoon character we liked or something, and then paint it and put it on the tree. These are still on my parents tree and I still do this with my 2 nieces actually. To be fair, as kids we always did little projects like this, we were always making our own stuff and entertaining ourselves. I think that really fostered creativity and imagination.

When did you realize what you were making was art?

I think anything anyone makes with intention or meaning is art. I know if there was ever a time I realized what I make is art, I think I just always thought, I want to create and produce things to put into the world.


“Felt Cute” By Anthony Rondinone (AVAILABLE at Myartisreal Gallery)


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Do you have any official art training or are you self-taught?

I’m self-taught.  I really think if you do anything enough and consistently, you will get good at it.  You learn your tools, you learn how to control your stroke and how the paint moves.  That’s hard to teach.  I actually really like that I don’t have formal training, I think there’s more room to find a unique style when you figure out how to do something rather than being told how to do something.

You told me once you made music before transitioning into making contemporary paintings. Is your creative process similar when making art as it was for making music? Do you feel like you can express yourself more through paintings? 

In some ways it’s similar in some ways it’s very different. It’s still about tapping into emotions, but writing music doesn’t get me in the same type of zone as painting. When painting, I can completely zone out into my thoughts. It’s much more connected and direct in a lot of ways, like it’s right from my soul onto canvas, there’s less thinking, it’s more primal or something. My thoughts, what’s going on in the world, everything goes right into what i’m painting and there’s no conscious thinking involved. Writing music takes more thinking, for me anyway. Playing those songs live is more similar to painting. When we used to tour and play the songs for crowds, I wasn’t thinking about what I was playing, it was more about just feeling the emotion of what we were playing and being in rhythm with the other guys. Music was also very different because it’s 4 people being creative together instead of just me putting exactly what I want down on canvas.

“Servant” By Anthony Rondinone


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What’s the process of creating like for you? Do you have to set the mood? What goes on when creating a new piece?

Usually it starts with how I’m feeling that day, or if something really inspires me to want to try something new, or get a certain type of emotion out, or if I have something on my mind and I think, “I want to try to express this in a way”.  From there I might decide to use a pop character as a starting point for that emotion, or I might roughly sketch out a figure so it’s more of a made up abstract figure. For the mood I usually put on different types of music to get into a certain headspace.  After that I spend a lot of time just staring at what I sketched.  I might just stare at it for hours.  This is sort of the planning phase.  I’m really thinking about how I feel about something or how I want to get it out.  This is part of getting into a certain head space for the piece.  This is probably the most important part for me.
Finally I start painting.  It sort of just happens once I feel like I know where to start.  This is when I sort of zone out.  I’m not exactly making conscious decisions.  I’m sort of picking up different colors, and making strokes based on intuition and what feels right.  I think this comes after years and years of understanding what I can do with the tools I have.  I eventually come to a point where I can step back and look at what i’ve been working on and If I start to really connect to it, I know it’s taking shape and I’m getting close to being done or I’m on the right path.  If I’m not connecting to it, I know there’s still work to be done.

What inspires you to create art?

Everything. That’s so pretentious and anyone I grew up with would make fun of me so hard for saying that, but it’s true.

Did the pandemic have any effects on you when it came to your work? Did you get more works done while stuck at home or did I hurt your inspiration? 

For me I was full of inspiration throughout most of the pandemic and I painted my ass off haha.  There were a lot of reasons for this.  Painting is a way for me to work through my thoughts in a lot of ways.  Throughout the pandy things got so political and divisive, there was just so much going on and so much to think through.  On top of that, I’m born and raised, and still live in NYC where the pandemic hit really hard. I have a good friend who is a nurse in a manhattan hospital so I was also hearing that side of it and I tried helping them out throughout the whole year, just keeping them company or helping with their spirit as much as I could.  There was also a lot of racial tension so being from the Bronx gives me a unique perspective on that that I had a lot to think about.
This was a great opportunity for me to really get my perspective on these things.  Painting is a unique thing in the sense that we have hours to sit with our thoughts while painting.  No other distractions.  How many jobs can say that? I wasn’t just reading a headline about what’s going on in the world, forming a split second opinion and then going about my day.  I was sitting with one issue for hours and going down different thought avenues by myself and really thinking about the different sides and where I find myself.  Sometimes it’s hard for me, because of this process I find myself understanding both sides of an argument, or being very empathetic, so people think I’m always playing devil’s advocate.  But it’s just because I can sit with my thoughts about these topics and listen to both sides and form my own opinion.  I think this process help me in my personal life because, I don’t really see things as us vs them anymore.  Or i’m on the right side and they are wrong.  I try to understand the context where people are coming from.  What lead this person to think the way they do?  I don’t think most people are malicious or have the thoughts they do because they are bad.  I think they have different experiences then I do, years and years of different experiences that lead up to a thought.  I”m interested in hearing about those experiences and trying to understand how it lead to the way they think.  I try not to just write people off because of a thought they have.  I’m not sure if that makes sense

“Optimistic” By Anthony Rondinone


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Could you tell us what love means to you?

Love is the glue that keeps us together. Wow corny as fuck but I think it’s true. When you interact with people, there’s always a certain amount of potential love. So even when you meet a stranger, you act a certain way, and you think about what you say and how you act because humans want connection. We want to connect with people and build our tribe. I think in some ways the way some people use the internet is changing this. Because it’s so anonymous, looking for that connection when you interact with people on social media changes. People are quick to fight and lead with hate instead of love. It feels like this is spilling out into real life which is sad.

I think love radiates. I think it’s something that can happen at the smallest level and it permeates society. I try to just be kind to anyone I come in contact with. They will make them more likely to be nice to someone else that day and I really think that spreads. That sounds like hippie bull shit but I really think that’s true. Smile at a stranger today, I guarantee that will make them feel just a little better and they might smile at someone else because of it. With all that said, I’m still a kid from the Bronx, so if you come at me the wrong way, I might not be so nice haha.

What’s something you hope viewers and collectors experience when viewing your works?

The biggest thing is, my work really isn’t meant to just quickly consume. Because I get so introspective when I work, I really love when viewers do the same thing. I’m all about trying to connect with emotion and find yourself in these pieces. Stare at them and really try to find the emotion in the character. Or think about what they have gone through, why do they feel the way they do. As an example, I painted Cookie Monster a while ago because I started thinking sesame street reminded me of the Bronx and he reminded me of the typical drug addict that you would see in that kind of neighborhood. Most people see him as a silly character, pay him no mind. But when you really look there’s a lot of pain in his eyes. He’s a really sad character. Does he want to be eating those cookies? Is it funny or is it really sad that he can’t help himself? How would you feel if that were you? really stare into the painting and look at the pain in his eyes. Think about your own addictive tendencies, we all sort of have something like that, or we know someone like that. Think about them, think about yourself. really go deep, it’s a good exercise and it can really help. Ultimately it affects how you love. I think the better you understand yourself the easier it is to love yourself and others.

“Light Heart” By Anthony Rondinone


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You can read Baku’s official bio on our website here.

Images © Anthony Rondinone

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