EK Interview: Jose Rivas

We were fortunate enough to find Jose Rivas’ work (featured previously here), and now we can double down on that because he granted us an interview. We gave him questions, he gave us answers, read one, the other, or both -but either way, take a look:

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Jose Rivas and I love to paint colour.

So did you just tear up crayon boxes when you were a kid?

It’s funny you mention that because as a kid I was terrified to play with colour, I felt like there were too many choices, imagine a 7 year old having a nervous breakdown for picking blue over orange… I stuck with just drawing in pencil.

Have you always used so much color in your work?

Back in school, our professor taught us all about colour theory, he always encouraged me to be fearless with colour. It was at this point in my life that I started to develop my style.

What do you get out of it?

Dilation of the pupils… I really love looking at colour and how it interacts with living spaces.

art blog - Jose Rivas - Empty Kingdom

What other media, if any, have you experimented with?

I used to play a lot with watercolours, in fact it was my favourite medium, however, I found it too time consuming to prep before painting.

Where are you from?  How do you think it’s effected your work?

I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. I found its more the people in my life rather than the place that has effected my work. I perceive everyone as complex no matter how plain-jane you might perceive yourself to be, everyone has an undertone of complexity which makes people so colourful.

What is your favorite part of the face to paint? Why?

I love painting eyes. Most of the time it can direct the interpretation of the subject matter. It’s also the part of the face where you can get a sense of depth, darkness and reflection of light all in one section of the face.

How long does it take you to take a piece from inception to completion?

Looking for the right model to paint takes up a lot of my time. The way I typically work is I do a quick sketch in paint, do a loose overlay of darks and lights and gradually slow down near the end to tightening up the eyes and mouth. My last 4’x6′ piece took me about 3 solid days.

What’s the next series you’re thinking about?

I’m so stoked for my next series you can’t even imagine… I can’t hype it up though. I’m calling my next series ‘Exit Innocence’, it deals with how our innocence is lost as we grow up. I mentioned on my blog I was going to start painting soon but I’ve been so held up with commissions I haven’t had time to begin! I should have my series completed by September though.

Do you remember when the idea came to you?

Yes! I had a conversation with someone about my painting, ‘Summer Holiday’ , they liked how I depicted a sense of innocence between the two girls kissing underwater. That conversation got me thinking of ways to create provocative subject matter that is shown in a more innocent light. The story I tell in the new series deals with how purity of a person becomes tainted over time, as adults, a lot of us lose our child-like innocence and perceive things in a different light.

art blog - Jose Rivas - Empty Kingdom

Name three influences and how they’ve effected your work.

Love, giving it and receiving it from family, friends, strangers, anybody whose anybody plays a big role in making me churn out the work. Music plays a big part as well, whenever I hear a song that I really dig I always try to parallel that rhythm or melody into something visually tasteful. Design is another passion that influences my work, whether it be graphic, fashion or industrial design, I like how the chaos of my art style can compliment the design of a living area or a spread in a magazine.

What are your dreams? Who do you aspire to be?

Cliché as it my sound, I want to inspire people, motivate them. I want to generate more love for art. I don’t want to overly commercialize my work but I do want to see how it can cross over onto different mediums.

Tell us about some other artists/sites/ideologies you follow.

There’s a few people that have inspired my work such as photographer Richard Avedon and recently Lukas Sowada, artists like James Jean, El Greco, Jenny Saville, and Ben Tour. I love going to sites that are about lifestyles and fashion like lastnightsparty.com and The Sartorialist. Ideologies I follow are narrowed down to beliefs that help me persevere through adversity, live in the moment while being mindful of the future and spreading truckloads of love.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?

Spicy Salmon sashimi! You can’t beat Vancouver sushi.

How would you like people to describe you as an artist and your body of work when it’s all said and done?


When your work overlaps the canvas why do you do that and what does it mean?

I see everything as complex beauty, I mentioned earlier how humans are complex, that also applies to everything else from architecture to animals, my intention is to give my interpretation of that complexity through highly saturated colour and overlapping strokes.

What is next for you?

I’ll be in a group show for Ayden Gallery’s seventh anniversary hosted by TOMS this February 18th! If you’re in the area be sure to come down, it’s gonna be a crazy party!

art blog - Jose Rivas - Empty Kingdom