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Meet the graffiti artist behind Perrier’s latest collab
The JonOne bottle.
Perrier, purveyor of fine sparkling beverages, has a long history of handing their bottles and cans over to artists to put their own inventive spin on that iconic green packaging. This year, they’ve teamed up with three big names in the street art world. While Japanese artist Sasu tackles the plastic bottle, and Kobra of Brasil transformed the metal can, ELLE Canada sat down with Paris-by-way-of-New-York’s JonOne, who had the task of distilling his entire artistic persona into a roughly one inch square logo. (No bigs).
ELLE Canada: How did it feel taking on the Perrier name? Was that intimidating or exciting?
JonOne: Now I feel like I am an ambassador for Perrier, when I go with friends to restaurants and order Perrier everyone’s like “Oh yeah, you’re the guy that drew the Perrier bottle, of course you drink Perrier!". I drank Perrier even before, because I don’t drink coffee or beers in café’s, and if you’re not drinking coffee or beer in a café, what do you order? You order Perrier. Usually it’s more expensive than the beer or the coffee. But how did it feel to do it? What was good was that Perrier’s image of working around artists, like Andy Warhol had done it before.
EC: Those are some serious footsteps to follow in.
JonOne: Yeah, and so many people being able to see it and talking about it, it’s completely different. The way I’m used to working is doing one paintings and that painting ends up being exposed in a gallery, but with this you touch a larger audience. And the audience that I touch isn’t necessarily people from the art world, it can be a lot of different types of people. I got a message a couple of days ago from a friend of mine, he’s a DJ, he’s not really into the art world. And he sent me an image of him saying “I’m drinking your Perrier bottle"! It’s cool, people are drinking my water, you know? It’s incredible.
EC: Have you had the experience of seeing it in a store yet?
JonOne: My brother bought it right downstairs from my mother’s house uptown in New York. I saw the Sasu bottle on the streets in the garbage, but I haven’t seen the Kobra bottle just yet.
EC: Street art is a temporary thing, when it’s done on the side of the subway car or something. you’re not sure how long it’s going to last. It must be weird to see this project also go through it’s own life cycle.
JonOne: The graffiti game is about how much you get your name out there. So, I’ve heard they’re going to make 500 million bottles – or I don’t even know the exact number – but I’m really getting my name out there. I’m constantly writing, I’m constantly signing things. I walk with a pen and constantly you’re always – it’s like my tick. This, I don’t think anyone can ever beat me after this.
EC: You win! What do you think that compulsive signing is all about?
JonOne: It’s my fear of death, and wanting to leave a trace behind. As a kid I was always wondering, is this what life is about? How can I cheat life? How can I make an impact on society? All these things came into my head about leaving a trace, you write your name under a bridge and you hope that it will be there in 100 years, somebody will discover it and ask themselves the same thing. You go to the museum and you wonder who are these people, why did they do it, what does it mean? That compulsion of wanting to leave a trace behind could be done through art.
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