He is Fallen Rose

In the delicate space of Del Ray tattoo parlor, Tradition Tattoos, we were pleased to share a moment of vulnerability with Justin Vallee, known also as Fallen Rose and the artist responsible for the colorful facade that now adorns the Harold’s building. Amid the buzz of tattoo needles, we sat down to learn about the man behind the roses as he recounted his inspirations, his rise into the world of street art and muraling, his struggles, and the philosophy that drives it all.

It’s all Roses around here

Story and Interview by Rae Glismann

Justin Vallee is a certifiable cool human and a multi-faceted artist, having dabbled in many aspects of the creative world including poetry, installation work, propping, and clothing design-  but his forte is muraling and street art. His distinct style and affinity for color are instantly recognizable and a clear mark of the Fallen Rose brand. After he began patterning in 2013/14 he now has over 1,000 patterns in his repertoire. He has painted all over the world, from large cities in Europe, to remote villages in Central America and Asia, to right here in South Florida where he was one of the OG painters that helped put Miami’s Wynwood art district on the map. 

A self proclaimed dreamer and doer, Justin has been an artist his entire life. As a child he enjoyed making art and writing poetry, using his emotions as his major inspiration by creatively channeling what he was feeling. That passion never waned, and now as a seasoned artist he is able to get in a flow state that is second nature to him. “Painting is like breathing” is how he describes it.

He started doing art exhibitions in his twenties, and on another front, he had started a successful landscaping company which he owned for ten years.

“I was making six figures. I had everything I wanted; all the toys and cars… but I got over chasing money.” 

He was as determined and driven as ever, but his passion for art ran much deeper than the desire to accumulate money. When he started traveling overseas, he was inspired by the profusion of European street artists and his life-long sense of artistic pursuit began to beckon his full attention. After returning to the U.S., he sold his company, set out to travel and paint, and dove headfirst into the realm of art he is now indivisible from.

Video by Leanna

Subsequently, he began his art collective 2Square. He and his best friend at the time were both living in vans and campers, traveling around America and Europe on a street art tour. They started “fucking around, gaining steam in Wynwood”, and soon started on their next European tour. 

In 2010 he started a web series, a collaboration with different producers garnering around 40-50 episodes about their creative endeavors and travels.

He was also featured in a Telemundo and ABC documentary series about Wynwood, which aired 6 episodes of “their life as a reality tv show” painting and partying in places like London, Miami, Prague, and Berlin.

Video by Erwin Georgi

While on the rise, he caught some heat in Berlin during what he describes as the “German version of Art Basel.” A critical website (that we will not name here) wrote a negative article about him, and after some other bouts of negative feedback, the failing support from the art community, the loss of their show, and an eventual split with 2square, it was time to start something new. Like a phoenix from the ashes, Justin worked to re-establish himself under the revamped Fallen Rose brand.

Ballerina mural by I am Fallen Rose.
Photo by Carlos Corbeira
Portrait of I am Fallen Rose wearing a pilots hat and gold chains.
Photo by Cesar Mieses
I am Fallen Rose in front of one of his murals.
Mural and painted truck by I am Fallen Rose.
Mural on black building by I am Fallen Rose.
Photo by Jorge Martinez Gualdron
Portrait of Justin in front of his work.
I am Fallen Rose running with an axe.
Photo by Panol de la Vega
I am Fallen Rose painting a wall.
Harold's Coffee Lounge mural by I am Fallen Rose.
Cat face mural by I am Fallen Rose.
Black and white photo of I am Fallen Rose painting ballerinas and roses on a wall.
Photo by Juanita Lopez
Harold's Coffee Lounge at sunset. Mural by I am Fallen Rose.

Like a phoenix from the ashes, Justin worked to re-establish himself under the revamped Fallen Rose brand.

It is plain to see that the iconography of the rose is integral to Justin’s artwork. It was during the summer of his second year muraling, while painting Maurice’s Fashion, that the rose first emerged. Justin was inspired by a photo he saw that depicted a woman with hair made of roses, and he wanted to channel that concept in the piece he was working on at the time.

“The rose was a fluke,” he says. What was thought to be just an ephemeral moment of inspiration ended up tapping into something much deeper. He describes the roses as something “classic, elegant, and timeless.”

He began painting his roses in black and white, and he was at first committed to keeping it that way. 

“But then once I started painting with color and the door was open, I couldn’t stop. Now it’s like an obsession. Now all my murals are really bright and vibrant and the patterns are all different. Now I don’t work in black and white that much. It’s funny because my life is surrounded by color now.”

I am Fallen Rose wearing a cheetah printed shirt in front of one of his murals.
Photo by Mariel Del Puerto
Pink black and white rose patterns
Black and white rose patterns with patches of color, Yellow, purple, red, and green.
Pink rose pattern yellow, black, and white back ground.
rose patterns on pastel purple, yellow, and blue, background.
Pink roses on white and yellow background.

Justin’s vivacious art style makes him a notable contributor to the rise of Wynwood.

Portrait of I am Fallen Rose in front of one of his murals.
Photo by Mariel Del Puerto

“When I first came in 2010, it was raw, gritty- Art Basel people were there then, but then the rest of the year it was vacant. Crazy how much things change in a short period of time with gentrification, it’s like a double-edged sword, it’s made me a lot of money but it’s taken away a lot of the beauty that came with that era, it was a beautiful time in my life.” He motions to his Wynwood tattoo, an obvious token of the personal sentimentality the place holds for him. 

“I think when people go back and study the ages of street art, there’s a lot of people taking inspiration from Wynwood and bringing it back to their city.”

He talks of his experience witnessing the rise of mural festivals in podunk towns around the world. He describes the scene of a city in Poland: imagine a huge, windowless USSR style building that could have merely remained a daunting landmark of drab concrete wall space– but Justin tells us of the phenomenal curators that have encouraged artists to liven up the place.

“Łódź, Poland seemed like it would be small-minded but the art makes it broader scope, broader spectrum.”

In Miami people loved us until they hated us

He speaks again on gentrification: “It generates tourism, it’s a money machine. These towns had nothing going on before and now there are trendy little boutiques and shops… but it flips these communities upside down and the grassroots people end up getting pushed out. That’s what’s happening in Wynwood.”

It’s apparent through Justin’s experiences that street art is something that can influence an entire community and in turn can be influenced by that community. 

“In Miami people loved us until they hated us. Cuz’ we painted so much stuff that everyone was like ‘that’s cool!’… but then they were like ‘are you gonna paint EVERYTHING?’”

“There’s rules but there’s no rules. Living in Miami- in Wynwood- helped line me up like that.”

“The streets will teach you what’s up real fast.” 

Not just for the likes of Wynwood, but this stands true for many of the places he has traveled in the world.

“I enjoy most places,” he recounts his works in Houston, Detroit, overseas in Europe, but he has an especially fond recollection of his time in Central America. 

When he’d get paid from a good job he would pay it forward by traveling to an impoverished area and paint different buildings for free, such as schools and houses. 

“I squeeze the juice from the man and then I share the juice.”

For two months he traveled around Guatemala, subsisting off of donated white primer and spending below $500 of his own money on paint and watering it down as needed. The local children affectionately nicknamed him “gratis pintura” — translates roughly to the “free painter.”

Local kids would approach him and ask him to paint their houses, so he would do exactly that. 

He worked his way up through different villages, witnessing different kinds of rural lifestyles. From adobe clay huts to found-material huts, he recounts the immense poverty that characterizes these areas. “Super poor, really sad shit”. But he says he got extreme pleasure painting their houses. 

“They’ve never had a paint job on their house, and they probably never will again. I wanted to bring joy to them. Instead of this house that they’re kind of ashamed of, now it’s the pretty blue house with the roses on it, next to the orange house with the roses…”

Justin’s passion for art is also a passion for humanity. He tells us of his initial vision for his humanitarian projects during the days of 2Square. He has since scaled back some of the idealism now that it’s just him, but he still does what he can to give back. 

“I want to do more but being your own manager keeps you busy, “Sometimes I have too many pokers in the fire.” 

Many of his own projects are on the back burner, such as his curation of vintage clothing he one day hopes to showcase.

But all the time he is still working towards his goals in any way that he can. “I’ve had the same message since I’ve been painting- just go out there follow your dreams and do it 110% and the world will open up for you. It’s the law of attraction. If you stay on the wheel and keep working, good things will happen to you. Bad things happen too but you have to dust yourself off and come back and keep swinging. Everybody has failures, it’s just how you come back from it. Do you give up or keep going? I’m a dreamer and a doer so just keep going.”

Perhaps it’s that law of attraction that led Justin to Harold’s.

“I’m an opportunist,” he says. When he came to visit a friend who was painting a mini-mural on our back fence, it was the perfect opportunity for him to create something too.  “When I think I have a chance to do something, I take it. I don’t let it pass.”

He started out by painting his own panel on our fence, but Justin saw the possibility for so much more.

“I look at the big picture, I like exceeding expectations- there’s a difference between good and excellent, and I try to achieve excellence so I saw the opportunity. I just slid in there and tried to take over before anyone could tell me not to.”

“I wanted to make it a destination- like a landmark- that’s my goal when I paint now- like “selfie central” you can stand in any given spot and it looks like you’re somewhere else. If it was closer to me I’d be hanging out there all the time”

Story and Interview by Rae Glismann

He speaks again on gentrification: “It generates tourism, it’s a money machine. These towns had nothing going on before and now there are trendy little boutiques and shops… but it flips these communities upside down and the grassroots people end up getting pushed out. That’s what’s happening in Wynwood.”

It’s apparent through Justin’s experiences that street art is something that can influence an entire community and in turn can be influenced by that community. 

“In Miami people loved us until they hated us. Cuz’ we painted so much stuff that everyone was like ‘that’s cool!’… but then they were like ‘are you gonna paint EVERYTHING?’”

“There’s rules but there’s no rules. Living in Miami- in Wynwood- helped line me up like that.”

“The streets will teach you what’s up real fast.” 

Not just for the likes of Wynwood, but this stands true for many of the places he has traveled in the world.

“I enjoy most places,” he recounts his works in Houston, Detroit, overseas in Europe, but he has an especially fond recollection of his time in Central America. 

When he’d get paid from a good job he would pay it forward by traveling to an impoverished area and paint different buildings for free, such as schools and houses. 

“I squeeze the juice from the man and then I share the juice.”

For two months he traveled around Guatemala, subsisting off of donated white primer and spending below $500 of his own money on paint and watering it down as needed. The local children affectionately nicknamed him “gratis pintura” — translates roughly to the “free painter.”

Local kids would approach him and ask him to paint their houses, so he would do exactly that. 

He worked his way up through different villages, witnessing different kinds of rural lifestyles. From adobe clay huts to found-material huts, he recounts the immense poverty that characterizes these areas. “Super poor, really sad shit”. But he says he got extreme pleasure painting their houses. 

“They’ve never had a paint job on their house, and they probably never will again. I wanted to bring joy to them. Instead of this house that they’re kind of ashamed of, now it’s the pretty blue house with the roses on it, next to the orange house with the roses…”

Justin’s passion for art is also a passion for humanity. He tells us of his initial vision for his humanitarian projects during the days of 2Square. He has since scaled back some of the idealism now that it’s just him, but he still does what he can to give back. 

“I want to do more but being your own manager keeps you busy, “Sometimes I have too many pokers in the fire.” 

Many of his own projects are on the back burner, such as his curation of vintage clothing he one day hopes to showcase.

But all the time he is still working towards his goals in any way that he can. “I’ve had the same message since I’ve been painting- just go out there follow your dreams and do it 110% and the world will open up for you. It’s the law of attraction. If you stay on the wheel and keep working, good things will happen to you. Bad things happen too but you have to dust yourself off and come back and keep swinging. Everybody has failures, it’s just how you come back from it. Do you give up or keep going? I’m a dreamer and a doer so just keep going.”

Perhaps it’s that law of attraction that led Justin to Harold’s.

“I’m an opportunist,” he says. When he came to visit a friend who was painting a mini-mural on our back fence, it was the perfect opportunity for him to create something too.  “When I think I have a chance to do something, I take it. I don’t let it pass.”

He started out by painting his own panel on our fence, but Justin saw the possibility for so much more.

“I look at the big picture, I like exceeding expectations- there’s a difference between good and excellent, and I try to achieve excellence so I saw the opportunity. I just slid in there and tried to take over before anyone could tell me not to.”

“I wanted to make it a destination- like a landmark- that’s my goal when I paint now- like “selfie central” you can stand in any given spot and it looks like you’re somewhere else. If it was closer to me I’d be hanging out there all the time”

the Dukes of 2square

Follow WYnWooD StreetART:DuO ::: 2SQuaRE::: as they share their life with the WoRLD.

The entire 6 episodes of the dukes of 2square can be watched on Tubi a free tv and movie platform
https://tubitv.com/series/2104
Or on amazon, only 5 episodes are available

Follow along, let's see what happens together

Check out I am Fallen Rose on Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok for the latest work including murals, art, clothing, skits, sketches, ideas, modeling, designs, an way more!

You can hit the follow button on Facebook @ Justin Vallee. He loads a ton of new stuff with no filler in real time. Also he allow you to see his buildings start to finish As he paints them. His rose designs and clothing are there as well as poetry,  and his complete street art portfolio from around the world and Florida.
On Instagram there are accounts…
  1. IamFallenRose for a ton of work. If you scroll down you’ll hit 2square Art. Usually there’s some stuff going on in his story; Art, humor, life, all that.
  2. MemeLordFallenRose for original memes and some funny stories. Not for people with sour attitudes or can’t laugh at things. This is a new page.
  3. MiamiVintageRose for vintage, 90s, athletic gear, high fashion, trends, rock tees, women’s stuff, oddities, rap tees, toys, and way more.
On TikTok @IamFallenRose you will find skits, impressions, characters, artistic blurbs, and more. Very new page just getting his feet wet.
For a selection of some of his favorite street art go to globalstreetart.com/fallen-rose

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

If you like what you see check out IamFallenRose on Instagram for commissions, one offs and way more. You can DM I am Fallen Rose to inquire about pruchases.

Like most people, I am stuck at home during the quarantine. With that said I’m available for commissions such as sketches, paintings, clothing. I can ship old and new work. Once the smoke settles I’m available for installations, modeling, murals, private, public events and more. Message me at follow2square@gmail.com or dm @iamfallenrose on Instagram

I am Fallen RoseA message from Justin

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