Interview with Nicole Ruggiero: Part One

Nicole Ruggiero and I talk memes, culture and copycats in this interview from 2016.


Nicole Ruggiero is a 3D artist living and working in New York City. Her work is heavily technology centered and its connection to culture.

Do you wanna talk about memes and what you did with them for this show?

I don’t know if anyone intentionally creates memes but I think it’s a consequence of posting your art online. Um and I think that a lot of people deal with pop culture references and I think that the more you deal with that the bigger chance there is that it’ll become a meme. Though for the show I worked with Giphy and my artist collective Post Vision. We commissioned like six or seven artists to make memes for this show. So that was on purpose and one actually went viral so that was really cool.

Do you think because the mediums you and others used plays into the meme culture kind of thing. I feel like using 3-D renderings as memes is still new as something that’s relatable.

Um, not necessarily because there are a lot of 3-D artists who focus on video games or focus you know, on other types of things, like VR stuff. There is like a large group of people who like create stills to post on social media and I do think that is kind of a different segment of 3-D artists.play2

Yeah, so as far as different mediums how do you feel? Do you try to stay within one or like to venture out and try to experiment more?

I would say that I’m very strongly a digital person. I’ve done like digital painting before, I’ve done 3-D printing. I 3-D printed a sculpture in collaboration with this other artist very recently. But I don’t really love to work within regular mediums like I hate painting, regular painting. I’m so messy and it’s horrible for me. I really like how perfect you can get things digitally, it’s cleaner to me.

It’s true, I feel that in traditional painting you can’t go back as you can digitally so there’s a certain amount of like, permanency. Do you think digital media will be around forever and studied as art history in the future?

This is something I think about, not super frequently, but something I have thought about. It’s weird because with digital mediums, they aren’t long lasting. If you have a file it can become corrupted very easily; the more you copy it the more data you lose. So I think those types of things are things artists are challenged with right now. The longevity of these things and how to make them last longer and what types of things to do to bring your pieces out into the world. And that’s something I’m working on too is. You know, like how do I create prints of these because I don’t love that everything I create, if I didn’t do this, is just behind a screen. ​It’s something I love and hate. People are reposting, reblogging, liking work. It allows it to go further and I really love that people can identify with this and create their own meanings which I think is beautiful. It crosses a line when people start, you know, taking creative credit. I’ve run into producers and musicians who use my friend’s art work without crediting them at all! Why wouldn’t you ask the artist, like we’re all in the same circle, I don’t understand it.

It’s just the amount of like, disrespect that I think these people have for artists. This is these people’s lives!

Yeah! I think like just communicating is better and sometimes I feel like… I don’t mind if people take ideas from my work or even copy it a certain way. But it’s such a thin line, it’s hard to say, “this is wrong” or “this is right.” It’s a very difficult thing I think. Yeah, I think it all depends. Like I said I think all of this stuff is just so subjective. It requires a lot of communication. If someone crosses a line and doesn’t do it on purpose, just apologize. If someone does it on purpose, they don’t care and they don’t credit and they continue to do it it’s like you have to stop, what’re you trying to do? But yeah totally a subjective thing, something that you have to go on a case by case basis I think.girl_largesmallscale

Speaking of why people do things; where do the majority of your concepts come from? What is your process?

So I draw a lot of concepts from my own past. I’ve always been really big on using the internet. I’ve always been like a really big nerd online. I got really into art in middle school and I asked my dad for a drawing tablet so I could draw on Photoshop and I would go into gaiaonline. So I’d go there and go into the forums and be like “hey guys what do you think of my drawing?” And I don’t know, it was so silly but it really helped me a lot because I received a lot of critique and got used to receiving feedback. That’s when I really started to get into it. I think in high school I lost a bit of my passion for it and in college I started to get back into it. After college like more recently is when I started to get like really really into it. I worked so hard on developing myself in the community and stuff like that. A lot of my ideas come from the internet. A lot of it is based on either my experience right now with pop culture or from when I was younger you know like Web 2.0 ideals and themes and stuff like that. I think nostalgia is a really big thing right now and I think I draw a lot from that. More often than not my more successful pieces kind of play on that theme of nostalgia or very heavily based in social technology. I really really love thinking about those things like how we interact through screens and what that means and how that plays out and how that looks. I know a lot of people are scared about technology and I know a lot of people embrace it. Older generations get annoyed by people like being on their phones all the time but for younger people it’s totally normal. We expect that and accept it so it’s cool to play out these different feelings and perspectives using social technology and the internet and interacting within those things.

Is it also like that in Asia? Because I know you just got back.

Yeah! Especially in Japan. Like super huge. I mean they develop so much of the technology there and make so many of the things we use. I think it has a huge influence on the culture over there, it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to go over there. I’ve been very influenced by Japanese culture too since I was the same age, around middle school. I think it has a very strong tie to how technology has an influence on me. I wasn’t there very long though so it’s hard for me to say exactly what it’s like.

Nicole’s work can be found at or on her instagram @Nicoleruggiero



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