The Cutting Edge: A Conversation With Brooklyn Collage Artist Jay Riggio
Aug 09, 2016
Jay Riggio Interview
I’m not embarrassed to say it—Jay Riggio is my first Instagram friendship. I came across this Brooklyn based artist’s
work on IG a couple years back and was immediately struck by the freshness of his collage work. I found that I started
to look forward to his posts, as they seem to have a force and momentum of their own. But the internet, indeed the
world itself is clogged with amazing work, what sets his apart from others? For me, it isn’t that Jay consistently puts out
thought provoking compositions that evolve and push the boundaries of the imagination, the more endearing ingredient
to me is how he seems to infuse his personality into his work. Simply through looking at his artwork for a while, I started
to get a mental image of his personality --the remarkable thing is, that once I did finally meet Jay, he was as I expected
him to be, and more—a super cool, down to earth, insightful, and hilarious person hell bent on leaving a paper trail
behind him (literally) as long as he’s able to clutch an X-acto. Currently, Jay is experimenting with modular 3-D collage
pieces and how he can integrate resin into his collage work.
Can you picture yourself five years from now? How do you see your art evolving?
No. I live day to day, It’s the only way I can function. If I started to do that--and my mind does go there, I can’t function
that way. I’m not built to have a vision, have a goal, and say ‘I’m getting there’. I’m fully organic.
Have you always been this way?
No, I was the opposite of that up until four years ago when I decided to make art full time. I was in an office and I was
like saving money, investing money, trying to plan, and once I was like ‘this isn’t who I am’ I’m done—that’s when I
completely stopped caring. I don’t even pay my bills on time—my girlfriend yells at me.
You used to pay your bills on time?
I used to have my shit together, yeah, now I think, I was a completely different person. I’m so invested, I have such a
tunnel vision with my work that I, just everything else is…but it’s to a fault, my girlfriend is kind of my care taker a little
bit, she makes sure I’m taken care of, but It’s hard to (I cut in) Get your head out of the clouds, because making
work is the sweet spot). I’m the kind of person that I’m just all or nothing in a lot of ways. I throw myself into something
whole heartedly—I give it my everything. It’s been that way where I tried to go to work, then come home and try to make
art and it’s just like AHHHHH!!! It’s awful, but I don’t see myself down the line, It’s just day-to-day man. I’ve resigned
myself to whatever the results are—whether I fail or succeed, I’m willing to accept both, I don’t know if I’m willing to
I feel like if a person has a laser beam-like focus on a goal then there’s no such thing as failing because you keep on trying—you
keep at it. I feel like a person has only really failed once they walk away without accomplishing what they set out to.
You’re absolutely right.
As Thomas Edison famously quipped: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work”.
Right, yeah, as artists we’re meant to keep on going, trying new things, pushing boundaries, and I’ll never stop creating-
-just because I feel like that’s why I’m here on this earth, It sounds cheesy, but this is who I am, like, I have no other
purpose but to make art.
Everything else revolves around that and serves that…
Yeah, if everything falls to shit and I find myself homeless someday, I’m still going to be making art because that’s what
I’m supposed to do, I’m not supposed to work a 9-5 job, I’m not supposed to be sitting behind a desk for fucking forty
hours a week—It’s just not me.
There is often a stereotype of artists being poor—there is certainly some truth in it, do you think you can be wealthy and still make good art?
You can make good art and be completely rich, but I think there’s a certain drive in someone who doesn’t have…in terms of productivity levels. Let
me try to make this point another way—Do you know Bukowski?
He quit his job and wrote his first novel in a week and the publisher (John Martin of Black Sparrow Press) came up to
him and said ‘holy shit how’d you do that?’ and Bukowski said ‘fear’. I’m not working right now—you’re going to pay me
to do this and if I don’t I don’t get paid, you know what I mean? I think it affects output, but I think it also effects the
quality. It’s a certain amount of pressure, but with that pressure comes consequences. That pressure is going to express
different ideas and it’s going to come out in the work. If you don’t have the pressure, the anxiety, the fear,
and depression to keep you going… then what will?
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