ARTY GRAS: CHRIS RIGGS Q&A

October 14, 2015

What do you write? Are you in a crew?

I write Peace and Love. I'm down with the human race from planet earth.

 In what city did you start painting in the streets? Do you feel your work has influenced the community in return? If so, how? Is there a relationship between the artist and the community in which they work?

I started painting in the streets, tunnels, subways, train stations, and abandoned buildings of New York City when I was very young. I also started doing canvases because I fell off of a building while painting a mural, and could not walk for a while. That was 25 years ago. 

People from all around the world always tell me my art work makes them feel great.  Athens, Paris, Miami, Moscow, Seoul, and New York - I love when people take pictures in front of my art. If your painting is outside then you have a relationship with whomever sees the mural. Recently, my Love and Peace art influenced Russian society so much so, that children were learning to paint my works during their art class in a Moscow. The biggest political party in Russia wanted me to join and work with them. In Paris Le Parisian newspaper interviewed me about how Peace and Love politics can solve the problem with refugees in Europe. I was invited by the Herald Design Forum in Seoul, South Korea to speak about my Peace and Love movement. People are receptive to my art in Asia. I truly believe Peace and Love is the only solution for our planet. I'm glad people from around the globe understand this idea and are wiling to change their mindset. 

Did you go to school or are you self taught? 

I graduated from City University of New York. Most of my art was done in the street back then, not in the studio. Now I'm always working on commissions in my studio. Most of my art decorates expensive homes around the world. You can find my murals in Miami, Manhattan, Seoul, Paris, Athens, Florence, Moscow, and even Roshal just east of the capital. 

How did you get started in the arts and why?

After my father was shot and killed at one of his stores in Manhattan, when I was 7 years old. The only thing that kept me going was drawing. I would draw all day at school and at home -- that was all I wanted to do.  My mother signed me up to go to a small neighborhood art studio where my love of art was nurtured.  Mayor Koch sponsored a subway poster contest which I won and that positive feedback encouraged me.  When the graffiti rage became popular, I was ready to make NYC my canvas.

How long have you been working in the streets?

I've been working in the street for about 30 years, but now 95% of my work is on canvas or wood. 

Who or What inspires you the most? 

My wife inspires me more than anything else in my life.  Traveling with her around the world and painting with her encouragement and help give me the energy to continue and create increasingly new ideas.

What should the general public know about street art? What stereotype about street art/graffiti do you hate the most?

Street art is something you really have to do to know what it feels like. I think people think street art is easy. They have no idea what hard work it is. 

Are you a full time artist? Do you have a day job? Is it best to be full time artist or not worry about it and make your $$$ elsewhere, that way you can paint what and how you want, which one offers a more creative outlook?

I have been a full time artist for about 11 years. I have made and sold over 3700 original paintings on canvas or wood. 

What are you working on now? 

Right now I'm working on quite a few commissions, they are all paintings. I'm booked up until next year. Also I'm starting work on a new series for my upcoming exhibition in Paris. 

What do you hope to achieve or accomplish by putting your work in the streets?

Peace on Earth and promoting love.  Ending wars and crime against humanity. I dream big. :)

Thanks, check out more of Chris' work. https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChrisRiggsArtGallery