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RIPO Interview

Written by Manuel Bello   
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 06:33
Now living in Spain but this street artist was raised in NYC. He's currently showing at No New Enemies in Brussels. Manuel Bello interviews.

During the most brutal brisk of winter here in New York City I found myself sharing a smoke outside some random gallery with a random dewd. After about 5 minutes of mindless banter I come to learn that the random guy was not as random as I thought. This random stranger was the infamous RIPO, need I say more... Hope you enjoy!

Who is Ripo?

Ripo is me living my life how I can and creating how I can. In general I like people.

Berlin Ripo Misunderstood

You were raised in New York City, how much of your work reflects that these days?

NYC opened me up at a young age to exploring and meeting a lot of different kinds of people. That still reflects in my work by and my life in general.

NYC Fuck Mirror

I know you grew up skateboarding, how do you think that molded you as a kid?

Skateboarding, at least street skating, is about going where you want to go, skating what you want to skate, doing what you want to do, and anyone who doesn't agree with that just doesn't get it. That being said there's also a massive amount of community involved in it. You know if you skate you can pretty much go anywhere else in the world and be able to tie up with somebody and connect on that one common ground.

Asuncion Come Over

Who were some of your original art influences?

My parents were really creative people and showed me support since I was a kid, bringing me to galleries and museums. My brother and I also used to draw "invention books" when we were really young so he pushed me at an early age too. It was comic books that really got me going crazy with making artwork, probably around 6 years old. I was always pretty good at drawing, and I liked the idea of being able to create something on paper and affecting other people by doing that. Subconsciously that pushed me for years and continues to do so. I then learned about graffiti at 13 years old.

Barcelona Steal This Space & Barcelona Stolen

How do you think your work is different then other Graff and street work out there today?

Any art is about putting your own spin on life, or in this case city surfaces, and every artist puts their own history and experiences into what they make. There are also people who influence you and how you tell your story. My work is different cause it's mine.

Bogota Okupame

What is the general process in your work?

Draw. Draw. Draw. Paint. Draw. Something else. Draw. Paint. And so on...

Guatemala City Menosomas Process

How important is color in your work?

Simple color schemes always appealed to me, maybe because I basically only drew with pencil and black pen for about 15 years of my life.

What inspires the messages behind your work?

I think about truths, half-truths, un-truths, who gives us all those truths, and then the rest of the stuff that happens everyday and the people and places around me.

Slipping Thru The Cracks

How much of your work is sociopolitically based?

It's nothing new that politics are pretty fucked up and the way that we're fed all that information (the news) is just perfectly ripe for commentary. Some of my work is sociopolitical when that's what feels important to me at the time, but in general I try to add some humor and make you question something whether it's political or just about life in general.

Barcelona Fragil Sakristan Mooning

A lot of your type seems to have a very vintage retro feel to it, is there a reason behind this?

Calligraphy and hand lettering are pretty obviously influences in my work. I love things that are made by hand and that have little mistakes in them. Signage like that was great because you can see some guy had to think about how we was going to communicate his message visually, what colors to use, what font, what other visual things to add to make it more appealing, and there wasn't necessarily a set logo he was copying and he couldn't just press Command+P. But it's boring to just read "Buy buy buy," I'd much rather read a sign that says "more useless crap at absurd prices," it feels more honest.

Sao Paulo Ripo Coming Soon Lores

I have been noticing you are playing with mirrors lately, what inspired this latest batch of hocus pocus? Is it an attempt to get people to look inward on some level?

Mirrors are great because they do sort of have that feeling of being strange and mysterious but at the same time they're completely common (and often found in bulk in the trash). It's our exact world but it's backwards. I love working with them because of how the whole world and all the viewers reflect on the artwork and messages both literally and figuratively. Also just visually the mirrors are a lot of fun to photograph in the streets.

Barcelona It's Not Love

Tell me a little about the art scene in Spain and what is the attraction, aside from the obvious?

I can't really talk about all of Spain but Barcelona used to be a very different city than what it is today. The streets felt really raw but at the same time alive and open to everybody. It was a perfect breeding ground for artists, musicians, circus people, and all kinds of other freaks. Now it's pretty much overrun by stores, shopping, the grey paint of the buff, and more billboards and ads than you can imagine. There are still a lot of artists living in Barcelona and its known for that but at the same time the government tries to repress it and the art market sucks.

Buenos Aires Ripo Unfamous

If you were not living in Spain, where would you be and why?

I don't know, I like to travel. Whatever city it would be would have to have something special, feel creative and free, and at the same time be connected to the world.


When can we expect to see a Ripo show in the states?

I don't have any plans for one yet. This March I'm having my first solo show here in Brussels through No New Enemies. If it feels right to do more shows then I'd like to do something in the States.

Sao Paulo Ripo Untitled

Any famous last words?

Do it yourself.

Ripo 2009

Many thanks to those who sent in questions! Be sure to check out RIPO's solo show in Brussels. {moscomment}


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