Ron Zakrin has been an ever present creative force in Detroit since the mid nineties, when he emerged on to the underground electronic music set with paintings that provided a visual counterpart to the Detroit sound that was taking the world by storm. Since those early days Ron’s work has expanded in scope and scale; no longer strictly focused on man and his relationship with technology, Zakrin probes the veins of society, and explores the nature of man, love, and loss. Zakrin lives in Detroit Michigan, where he was born and works daily.
1xRun Thru Interview
Ron Zakrin – Multiple Hand Painted Cans
1xRun: Let’s talk about some of your techniques that you used on these different paint cans.
Ron Zakrin: For some I pulled all of the loose paper off of the can, but wanted to keep the remnants of paint drips as a reminder of the piece’s original purpose. After a good bath in alcohol to remove oil and ensure good paint adhesion, I applied a couple of coats of primer, then began sketching with vine charcoal. I liked the rawness of the sketch, so I reinforced the lines with a carbon stick and kept them visible. I coated the drawing with a clear acrylic resin and painted over that with acrylic colors. I re-coated that with clear acrylic resin and applied some plastic stars while it was still wet. After it dried I spray coated the can with a matte spray varnish. Others are painted with acrylic colors, embellished with other things like a paper doily, an old beer bottle label, old block prints of mine and other collage materials.
1xRun: So when did you first start making art?
Ron Zakrin: long ago.
1xRun: What was your first piece?
Ron Zakrin: My first real piece of art was when I took a hot knife to a transformer named Sunscream, and cut off his face. Then I cut the face off of a G.I. Joe doll named sabateur (sic) and glued the transformer face onto it’s head. It was perfect. I loved that doll. One day me and my nephew were skipping school and built a fort out of a refrigerator box behind an ABC Wharehouse, where we could see the idiots who actually went to school walking back home. So we were playing with our transformers and stuff and not looking out for peeps coming home from school. We were surprised by my (kind of) girlfriend and her sister and we tried to hide our dolls. My doll fell out of my coat and the girls laughed at us for still playing with dolls. My nephew picked up my masterpiece and threw it as far as he could, proclaiming: we don’t play with stupid dolls! I never found it. That was my first piece of art.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on?
Ron Zakrin: Very early on I was inspired by Bob Ross, then later by Comic book artists like Marc Silvestri and Dan Green, Tex, Frank Miller. Then when I started to get into the local scene I was all about a Detroit painter named Robert Berry.
1xRun: What artists inspire you now?
Ron Zakrin: Too many to name.
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
Ron Zakrin: I listen to a lot of chiptunes, I have like 45,000 jams on my phone thanks to the High Voltage Sid Collection, a database of all music made on the Commodore 64. I like krautrock, classic Detroit electro, proto techno, Roxy Music. Also I listen to a lot of public radio to satisfy my unquenchable thirst for information. *Click below for tunes from Ron’s musical alter ego Goudran and video of Ze Dark Park.
Ron Zakrin: I am always down to work with my friend Mark Heggie, because we go way back and get along. We had our first studio together back in the early mid 90’s and the energy was slamming. To get just a fraction of that energy would be reason enough. Other than that, I’m a bit of a loner, and I became an artist because I don’t like compromise. I was going to school to become a commercial artist but once I realized that I would have make big compromises to please the client I was like, fuck that.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any deceased artists who would it be and why?
Ron Zakrin: I would work with Basquiat, if I could go back to 1981. That era was EPIC! Painting in New York, punk is new, new wave is new, hip hop is new, painting is real again, yeah, I’d go back there if I had a time machine. Party and paint with Jean, punch Warhol in the face, challenge Julian Schnabel to a duel. Do a backspin and call it a day.
1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? Do you still have it?
Ron Zakrin: A self portrait of my mentor, George Hriczick. It was actually a nuclear scan of his head, so it’s basically a picture of his skull. He died of cancer a few years after that scan was made, and I don’t like seeing it, so it’s in a box now. If it wasn’t for George, I might not be doing what I’m doing today.
1xRun: What was the last piece of art that you bought?
Ron Zakrin: I have done a few trades with other artists over the years.
1xRun: What else do you have currently in the works?
Ron Zakrin: I’m in the upcoming G40 exhibit in D.C. put on by Art Whino in April. I am working on my next solo show at 323 East in May called Still Life with Drum Machine. The exhibit will showcase imagery inspired by and taken from my experiences and influences in the world of electronic music, dance culture, synthesizer worship and drum machine blow out.
1xRun: Where can people find you across the internette?
-1xRun dot com