Rumour has it that you are never more than a few feet away from a TONE paste up if you are ever in Leeds the city in which street artist Tone now resides, in fact the same could be said of London, Manchester, Chicago or New York, if your in one of those cities keep your eyes peeled for TONE's unique styled artwork pasted, stickered and sprayed on walls, subways, post boxes and pavements and you will no doubt spot one before the day is out.
TONE's instagram (@tone_rsd) bio gives probably the best insight into someone that is almost impossible to label,
'retroskullduggery/street artist/pulp iconographer/sign painter/This is England 88 extra, LUFC'
We've been long time friends and collaborators with TONE, and there are fewer people we like having in our barber chair more, he's always got some story to tell, often having us in fits of laughter whilst we cut his hair. One half a gentle, creative genius, the other half almost naturally lured towards mischief and troublemaking.
Those same ying and yang traits could be said earmarks his own personal style, at 6ft 3 and with unique look and strong presence he's hard to miss if you happen to be walking beside him in the city centre, obsessed with good design, clothing, and his favourite labels, his top half is usually a well tailored smart fitting jacket from the likes of APC, a vintage CP Company or Le Labourer workwear jacket, mixed with a clean smart fitting chambray shirt, his bottom half reflecting a more playful side with shorts and his favourite sneakers. His trademark Persol sunglasses, almost always covering his eyes, day or night, inside or out. Equally as obsessive about his hair, we cut it with a smart fade around the sides, leaving it longer on top, and use our Native Pomade to give him the slick back effect to complete his look.
Style choices aside, TONE is first and foremost an incredible artist, with a unique style that has often been copied but never bettered. We've been fans of his work for many years now and knew it was just a matter of time before global recognition would come his way.
Its also worth saying he hasn't got to where he is by luck or by people he knows as happens with so many, coming from the most humblest of backgrounds in a small working class town of goole, the man is a self professed workaholic and risk taker, crafting and perfecting his style over many years. TONE like many artists suffers creative droughts, but when an idea strikes he will work often through the night from his apartment, sketching, creating stencils, working from pen to pad or on photoshop layouts, and getting out on the streets at all hours to make sure his work is getting out there to the people. The rewards of his endevaours are without doubt worth the struggle, creating exciting, thought provoking and beautifully illustrated pieces in TONEs unique style.
Being friends gave TONE the best insight into our ethos here at Native, on life and our passion for British barbering, we worked closely with TONE on our four main illustrations that depict the Native ideals, Stay Wild Stay Free, Hold Fast Hold Strong, Fortune Favours the Brave and Heartbreakers and Troublemakers. But this certainly isn't the end of our collaboration, we have many more things planned with one of the UKs most exciting street artists.
When & why did you start retroskullduggery / tone?
retroskullduggery started way back in the early 2000's when i created a 'lad' character who wore trademark, iconic Stone Island jackets and Adidas trainers, as a little mascot to how i was back then (i haven't changed much) respected independent label Casual Connoisseur and Proper Magazine picked him up and I used him on some collaborative pieces with them and from there I created a lot of football casual related artwork. From there things progressed and i developed into a more subtle diverse 'brand' known asTONE around 2010, which incorporated a more intricate design style in order to be used on the streets and exhibitions.
Where do the names come from
The name retroskullduggery was a mix up of words that loosely translates (in my mind) to old school mischief... 'retro = old school', 'skullduggery, a forgotten word that describes mischief or naughtiness'. TONE on the other hand is more personal and straight forward as my name is Anthony/Tony, so TONE is often used by the lads and it can also be seen as an art term, tone's of colour.
Where was your first paste up
My first paste up came about in goole one cold winters night when i roamed the streets having made my first pot of homemade paste from boiled flour, sugar and water. These all came after i dabbled in stencil spray art for which it was deemed vandalism and a prison sentence, so i moved onto more biodegradable hobbies because i'm not the sort of person to break the law really.
Most interesting paste up story
There are a couple... Before i moved from Goole to Leeds, i spent 4 late nights travelling to an enormous motorway bridge where i more or less completely filled a concrete pillar with the biggest paste ups i'd ever dabbled in, diving off my bicycle frame (which i used for height) everytime a car came passed just incase it was the police or curious civilians, that was a learning experience. Since then i have pasted up in London alot, the shoreditch/brick lane area and Chicago which has introduced me to many a character on the way, intrigued by what i'm upto.
Places your work can be seen
There are many spots in certain cities where my work is still available to see on the streets, which is where it belongs, but mostly they get weathered or the council take them down, As mentioned earlier, Shoreditch/Brick Lane in London is where most of my work is still standing.
More corporate places to view my work are
Hawkins & Blue: http://www.hawkinsandblue.com/product-category/tone/
Instagram/Facebook: @TONE_rsd / Tone Rsd
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms, one day i'll be listening to some music and i'll pull some lyrics from it which can automatically inspire the shape of my next piece, or i'll be delving into conspiracy theories and my next piece will be dedicated to shock with a nod to that with hidden political messages. I try not to look at other artists work too much because it can have an impact on what i create and i don't want to have similarities with other work. But all in all, iconic clothing, music, good design/typography and love/hate inspire me.
What is your background
I don't have a massive background regarding art, i grew up in a small industrial Yorkshire Docking/Port town where opportunities were hard to come by, but it is always home, i just did what i had to do and my mum was always kind of creative and supported my early sketches as a kid, and certain things happened to me in my life which made me spread my wings to Leeds where things have blown up regarding my artwork and general lifestyle. I did study graphic design at selby college, it gave me a basic knowledge of the Adobe Suite but i wouldn't say it had any impact on my general style of work as i always knew i wanted to do this... and now i actually am.
There are certain icons that run through much of your work, what do these represent?
Certain icons such as JFK, Jim Morrison and Chevy Chase recur through my work mainly because in my opinion they are cool, iconic and made a mark whether it be controversial or not and are just characters that had/have style and were part of my upbringing, everything has to have a slight meaning to me for it to have any existence in my life and influences.
Can you talk us through how an idea forms and the procedures / techniques you use to take an idea to completion
Usually an idea will come to me while listening to a song, or with whatever is going on in my life at the time, whether it be women, family or general life troubles. It makes me want to make a statement to subtly show how i feel BUT also so that other people can relate aswell. I'd usually sketch out on paper the layout using rough shapes and notes as to where to start, how it will all fit together and what the typography will be. From there, i then draw out the characters using my Wacom tablet for the solid lines my work needs to be impactful and slowly add minor details, like tattoos, quotes, colour, animal heads etc. On some occasions i create one of pieces using mixed media, spray paint, illustration and hand painted sign writing using enamel paint on all sorts of things i find, for example traffic cones, wood, metal, road signs and old furniture.
What's your favourite medium
I go through stages, where illustration and digital print will have been used too much and i get bored so i move onto painting typography onto objects, but right now i am currently working on new digital prints which i am excited about, and as of late i have been working large scale in offices and bars, painting my work on walls and doors which is a brand new stepping stone for what i am aiming to achieve. I also enjoy large scale laser cut designs on wood, metal and plastics.
What are your favourite pieces
I don't particularly like my work when finished, because i know what i could have done better, i look at a finished piece and love it for approximately 12minutes, then get bored of seeing it and try and sell it and move on to something new and refreshing in order to go through the same process.
What's next for tone?
Who knows what's next, who even cares... anything could happen with the way it is all going at the moment, but i love it because it's mental and i will spontaneously do anything i have to do. What i do know is i am art directing a large train station mural at Leeds Station for the Leeds College of Music (LCoM) and National Rail, assisted by two talented street artists Bretski and Krek.
Who's the most interesting person you've met through your art?
I have physically met a few people but i have had connections with many a character over the years that definitely need a mention, I once bumped into Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker in London, where i asked 'Ferris if he could hold my stickers for a photo' which he accepted, also Mo Farrah and he loved it. Chevy Chase once signed the front cover of The City Talking newspaper which i illustrated his face on for a christmas special and Henry Hill (the real Goodfella) wore my t-shirt designs in LA, and sent me the photographic evidence just before he sadly passed away, David Batty (Leeds Utd and England legend) loved a print i did for his home, Ben Eine illustrated his alphabet so i could get a letter tattooed on me, that was cool, Andrew Ellis (Gadget, This Is England) who i have met on many occasion as an extra in tv/film and music videos is also a sound lad who enjoys a print from me and Charlatans lead singer Tim Burgess, when i painted a sign for his coffee label 'Tim Peaks' after he asked me to go on tour with the Charlatans to Wales and live paint signs while they performed but it was such a difficult task to partake in, so i politely declined. Now he begs me everyday but i don't care.
Aside from making art what else do you do?
I try to sleep... which doesn't happen that often, and booze! But on a daily basis my job at Vapour (www.wearevapour.com) consists of beautiful design/illustration work for clients such as Reds True BBQ, universal, The Alchemist and more. So my life mainly consists of art, with the added session at the football and visiting family.
Who owns the largest TONE collection
I'd have to say the cleaner at our studio owns the biggest TONE collection, as he see's them lying around and buys them to hang at home, my agent did however come across a Japanese guy in Osaka who wanted to take my laser cut MDF one off designs back with him to his dive bar where it is reported the Yakuza frequent (but i don't want to say too much about that).