Digital imagery, corrupted images, and xerox stills are among the mediums that artist Riley Lisa uses to render his beautiful, original, and thought-provoking pieces. A Psychology major at Hofstra University minoring in Fine Arts and Human Services, Riley is presently preparing to graduate whilst also working as a pharmacist technician, a research assistant, a study coordinator, and a mentor for freshmen.
Despite his hectic schedule, Riley always makes time to craft his mixed media pieces, working with anything from graphite to white woven polypropylene bags. While he will always experiment with new mediums, his favorite medium to work with is ink pens. Typically, his works contain aspects of horror and most pieces are in high contrast black and white with a few in color. Soon, he will be working on large paintings of women (most likely three by two feet in size) that will be highly stylized and in neon colors.
Riley recently discussed his work via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for art and what are your mediums of choice?
Riley Lisa (RL): I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. Drawing allowed me to express myself in a way I felt most comfortable. Since I always drew with pencil and ink, they’re the mediums I’ve gotten most accustomed to, and are still my mediums of choice. I like to dabble in everything, but I always find myself gravitating back to graphite and ink.
MM: How did you get your start in the art industry?
RL: I wouldn’t say that I’m in the art industry yet. I barely have my toes dipped in it. All I do is take art classes, post my work to Instagram, and sell some of my work at student art sales. I only had one gallery on my campus. I’m still working to enter the industry by getting my name out there and creating art whenever I can.
MM: What most inspires your art and have you any particular favorite pieces?
RL: The people around me inspire my work more than any type of visual pieces. Since I’ve always used art as a way to communicate with others, I love to tell stories through my art. The more I interact with people, the more ideas I get for my work. I think my favorite piece is “Sleepover.” The lines and composition of that piece came out just as I wanted it to. It also has a story that I think a lot of people can relate to or understand.
MM: You’re working on a degree in psychology, so do your studies inform your work at all?
RL: My studies help me to understand others even when their reactions or responses to situations seem incomprehensible. This definitely helps me create works of my own. It helps me to illustrate stories from the perspective of both an onlooker and the subject of the story themself. I think that by understanding both perspectives I can more easily convey the ideas that I want to.
MM: What sorts of reactions do people have to your art?
RL: People give positive feedback about my work. A lot of people really like my line work, and say that I’d probably be a great tattoo artist. A lot of people think my work is all digital because of how clean everything is. I think my linework is what I’m known for, at least on my campus. I think my most popular works are my food trading cards. They’re little ink drawings of different foods on 2.5″ by 3.5″ cards. I sell them at every art sale I’m a part of and they sell out pretty fast.
MM: What has been the highlight of your artistic career thus far?
RL: Seeing how people react to my work has always been the highlight of my art. They like what I do and encourage me to do more. I make art for myself, and I’m always afraid that that is going to be my downfall as an artist. But, luckily, it’s working out pretty well so far.
MM: What mediums haven’t you yet worked with but want to in the future?
RL: I’ve worked with pretty much every medium so far, so I can’t say there’s anything I haven’t tried. However, I do want to work more with paint. I never liked it because the paint is never as opaque as I want it to be. I also always end up watching the paint dry and lose my patience. My next project series is working with paint, so I’m cautiously excited about that.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and what’s your biggest goal right now?
RL: My next series consists of 2’x3′ paintings of girls. Since I wanted the figures to have bright, neon colors, I have to use acrylic paint and spray paint. It’s going to be challenging since paint and I don’t have a very good relationship together, but I think the end product is going to be worth it. My biggest goal right now is to keep making work and keep putting myself out there. That’s the only way I can keep improving what I do.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to talk about?
RL: People Can follow me on Instagram @cyberneticarts