Vincent Rizzo is a visual artist residing in Birmingham. His art incorporates numerous contemporary styles with a strong influence from Eastern art and philosophy. Recently, Rizzo has become a mainstay of the Woodlawn Street Market, which happens quarterly in Woodlawn. He paints a “canvas”: sometimes a train, sometimes a wall, which serves as a backdrop to the bustling activity of the fair. We asked him some questions about his art and community.
Can you explain your style and how it evolved over time?
I guess my style is very graphic. I incorporate a lot of line-based drawings with a tattoo style mixed with old cartoon imagery. The way that my style evolved really was just that it visually and contextually resonated with me with like old cartoons that I watched as a kid and graffiti, which has sort of always been in my life. A lot of my influence came from Japanese Buddhist arts, too. I’ve learned a lot from Eastern philosophy, but especially a lot of Buddhist ideals that have influenced my work. There’s a process I’ve been using and taken influence from, a brush and ink dying technique called suminagashi. One would do this technique for paper staining; it uses a variety of colors and types of ink. It addresses a sort of regional style I’ve taken a lot of influence from.
How did you get involved with the Woodlawn Street Market?
I was asked by someone involved with Communicating Vessels who helps putting on the street market. There’s a breakdancing battle involved with music and a DJ. I do a live graffiti mural. It sort of brings a lot of various elements of hip hop into one area. It’s something that I think uses elements of our city and helps in bringing a lot of cultural life to a place. I’ve done multiple events with them and always show some other art that I’ve been working on as well.
What is your connection to Woodlawn?
There’s been a lot of new life in the area. It’s incredible the amount of things that are popping up now around the area. Desert Island Supply Company is a wonderful place for poetry events, shows and all these things. It’s a major part of the community. My connection is with all of these places, Desert Island Supply Company, the street market, the Woodlawn Cycle Cafe, etc., and how it builds and grows.
What sort of influence do you take from the street market?
At the Woodlawn Street Market, I’m able to freely work and do my own graffiti piece at my own pace. I would say that Woodlawn has fit into the whole thing because of my love of graffiti and street art. I’m able to take all of these influences from graffiti culture and work it into my own life and art.
How does the art you make for Woodlawn inform the rest of your life?
The street market itself is a wonderful event that really lets me let go. It’s informed a lot of my other work now too with color, use of spray paint, the way I’m creating lines or forms. In my own artistic process, I’m taking everything from my life that might be moving or an observation that will mean one thing to me, but will end up being something for someone else.
Photos courtesy of Vincent Rizzo.