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jay riggio artist interview

Sometimes we can't bring ourselves to take scissors to our stash of magazines (especially not this one!), but if the result was half as awesome as Jay Riggio's collages, maybe we could be convinced. The Brooklyn-based fella spends his time cutting and pasting to whip up surreal scenarios, and we think they're pretty neat indeed.

We asked him to talk us through his arty world.


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What is your name and how old are you? My name's Jay Riggio. My middle name's Anthony. My initials are JAR. I'm 36 years of age. But I feel like I'm 21.

Where were you born and where do you live now? I was born in the suburbs of Long Island, New York, in a town called Franklin Square. It's a boring place where nothing exciting happens. But it's a good place to visit when I feel like I'm burnt out on life. They have exceptionally good pizza there too. I live in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which is always exciting.

How did you get started with your medium of choice? I stumbled upon making collages. I was into visual mediums like photography, film and video. Perspective, in relation to what's inside the frame, always appealed to me. With collages, I found that I could manipulate the frame in a similar way. What started with silly juxtapositions from old porno mag pages soon became full-on paper reconstructions. In the beginning, it was easy to pull off a quick, often cheap, visual gag with collage. But over time, I discovered the power the medium had. I realised I could communicate complex stories using the medium.

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Please describe the space where you do most of your creation – whether it's your art studio or kitchen bench! I work out of my studio apartment, which appears as if it's been burglarised at all times. It's almost always a mess. Magazine and book clippings, which are my source materials, are scattered and stacked atop my worktable. Open books and magazines are strewn across the floor, along with discarded paper clippings. It's tough to walk around most of the time, but I enjoy the chaos of the environment. I live with a Boston Terrier named Rosie. She lies at my feet while I cut up paper at my desk and doesn't mind getting hit in the face with falling shards.

Are there any downsides to this medium? The downside to making handmade collages is that you have limitations. You can only work with what's physically in front of you. There's no reproducing anything and no altering the size or perspective in some computer program. Once you cut up and glue down an image, it can't be replicated. If you mess up a cut on a piece, it's gone forever. I've learned to enjoy the downsides. Every piece becomes a challenge. The fact that every collage is one-of-a-kind, makes the accomplishment of finishing a piece that much more special.

Is there a running theme to the work you create, or do you just make whatever comes to mind? I think there is, but I'm usually not aware of it until I look back on a body of work that I've made. The themes tend to reveal themselves to me in that way. I usually make whatever comes to mind, but it seems that things like heaven, love, death, god, and heartbreak are steadily inside my head.

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What kinds of ideas and things are you working on at the moment? I'm working on pieces for a few upcoming shows. I've been trying to work a bit bigger lately.

What do you wish you knew about being an artist before you got started? I wish I knew that it was possible to be a full-time artist all along. Growing up I was told that becoming an artist was just a dream. You had to work a 9-5 job to make a living and create your personal art in your free-time only. I bought into this false notion for years. Luckily I was able to walk away from the cubicle life and step into a life of making art.

Do you think people need to understand the artist's intention to appreciate the art? I don't think so. Anyone can be moved to tears or anger or laughter by just about anything you put in front of them. Art can act as a mirror. It can show you things about yourself. It can make you feel something more than you ever knew was possible without a clear objective. My intention is to make people feel something different. If I've summoned an emotional response, than you've understood my intention.

Are there any other media that you'd like to experiment with? I used to paint more and do more mixed media stuff in the past. I'd like to experiment more with some of that one day soon. I've also always been interested in woodcarving. There's a lot I'd like to do. There's not enough time in the day to do it all.

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Which era of art do you appreciate the most? Now is my favourite era. Artists everywhere who would have never been visible to the world are finally given an outlet to showcase their work with social media. Some of my favourite artists today are people who I would have never seen if it wasn't for things like instagram and tumblr. I guess it's kind of funny that I'm an analogue artist and praising technology.

What do you doodle when you are daydreaming? I don't doodle, but I imagine cutting objects in front of me with an Xacto knife, as if they were a flat surface. I'll walk my dog and fixate on a building that I'd like to cut out. Often when people are talking to me, I imagine cutting out their silhouette.

What would you be doing if you weren't making art? If I wasn't making art, I think I'd be working a job I wasn't interested in at all, being really bummed about my life. I'm really happy that I make art.

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Where can we see more of your work? You can see my work and buy stuff at jayriggioart.com. I'm on instagram at @jayriggioart. Oh yeah, I have a tumblr also - jayriggioart.tumblr.com.


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