Long before there were murals and 3D street art, there was graffiti. This art of old is as present in Vukovar as anywhere else and was even integrated into festivals and events. From simple writings notifying us that they were, in fact, there, to some really elaborate and genuinely awe-inspiring designs, we have it and we love it all.
As for graffiti artists, it sure can be tricky as they always must defend the artist title, trying not to fall on the rebel and destroyer-of-walls side of things. This means that they constantly need to keep improving to impress. Mone has done just that. From the name that you would see a little too often in your neighbourhood, to being commissioned to paint walls and design logos, he has gone from naughty to nice, from kid to artist. We couldn’t be happier to follow along on his journey.
All photo credit: Mone
Tell us about yourself and your alter ego.
I am Luka Maksimović Mone and I’m 24 years old. The nickname was created to hide my identity and it was created through the evolution of nicknames that came from my last name: Maksimović – Maxo – Maxone – Mone.
What is your relationship with art?
My story on drawing starts back in kindergarten, where I had a friend who was great at it. I remember one day when we had a workshop and he drew the Hulk too well. That stuck in my memory and inspired me a lot. At home, I spent time drawing whenever I could. I practiced with my brother, drawing various objects that we could see on the table. Later on, I started drawing portraits, but realism as a direction did not satisfy me. The way I see it, you can just snap a photo.
Drawing quickly became a bit hard and boring, and since I’m a bit of a perfectionist I was by no means satisfied. One day we tried drawing graffiti and that was my first encounter with this kind of art. I remember that I chose the English word “book” and made eyes out of the two letters O and added a mouth below. This was completely new and exciting for me. I started using letters to create all kinds of shapes that came to mind.
Was that when you discovered your hidden talent?
That was when I discovered there were no rules, I could do whatever I wanted, in any style I liked, any size, form, or shape. It all came straight from my head, and luckily I was never short of ideas. As for talent, I wouldn’t say that I discovered my talent there or that I am talented at all. I just spent a lot of time at my desk drawing, simply because it was too much fun.
At which point did you go from paper to walls?
Soon after, my brother and I decided to try our first real graffiti. We found a wall and prepared everything, but we weren’t quite ready for the little obstacle that was me. I was too small and couldn’t do it! My hands were too small, I couldn’t hold the spray and squeeze the cap with one hand, I could barely do it with two hands. That was frustrating and caused my desire to slowly fade away and over time I completely neglected drawing. All until one time, in 3rd grade, during math class, I was so bored I wanted to jump out of the window. Instead, I remembered that I had used to draw graffiti all the time and decided to try it again. As soon as I drew my first lines it took me back. I felt like that child, like I was drawing for the first time. I was really happy with the sketches I made. A few days later, I bought a spray can and finished my first graffiti on the wall. I was intrigued and wanted more. It felt like I went back in time and simply continued where I had left off.
Eventually, you decided to do it in digital form.
While traditional graffiti wasn’t bad, it wasn’t anything special, and I knew I could do better. I started taking it more seriously and wanted to improve. After trying a few different techniques, I realised I needed a lot of money for the material and ran into a problem. So instead of buying markers and other things, I saved up to buy a tablet for graphic drawing which allowed me to switch to the digital canvas, where I had the best palette in the world, an inexhaustible source with every color imaginable. My mind was made up about what I wanted to do in the future.
What is the plan from here?
I am developing my project and plan to open a graphic design company and some other interesting things along with that. As the idea to open my own company developed, I also fell in love with tattooing. I recently bought a tattoo machine as well, so that will surely become a part ofg my workshop.
Tell us about your clients and projects so far and where we can find you.
I collaborated with various people as a freelancer, creating their visual identities. In Vukovar, for example, I collaborated with the fire department and one of the kindergartens. I also did a few projects with famous people such as Krešo Bengalka, Kukus clan, etc.
To check out my work, follow me on Instagram (@mone1zm).
Finally, how is the graffiti scene in Vukovar?
A graffiti scene barely exists here at all, as I’m the only one who does that. However, the city of Vukovar does push for street art a lot through the VukovArt organisation, who have brought many famous street artists from around the world to paint murals on buildings and create 3D street art.
All photos by Mone
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