Artist based in New York, NY

Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
Joseph Rovegno, Portrait by Noah Flage

Tell us about yourself, what's your background?

I’ve always had an interest in design which comes down to not only the way things look but the reasoning things are the way they are. Even in bad design someone somewhere had to make a choice. I’m not sure where photography exactly comes into play but I think having this perspective interested me to the point of taking notice to the world around me.

Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
Self Portrait

"There has been a lot of trial and error making useable prints but the bigger challenge with this project is actually revisiting these times of my life for the first time."

Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
Untitled Bike: 22" x 38" Archival Pigment Print, Waxed Thread, Ink

What are you currently working on and where did the inspiration for it come from?

The working title of a body of work that I’m working on is called shadows I’ve seen. It involves dark room prints of shadows and old journal entries from less than stellar situations during my life. The images are recent but the writings are years old. I typically write directly on the photographs so this is the first time I’ve I’m adding to a pre-existing material, so the way I’m doing this is more challenging technically.

I’ll make a photocopy of an old journal entry or document onto transparency paper. Then with the transparency pressed onto the photo paper I expose the negative leaving the journal entry unexposed to the paper. There has been a lot of trial and error making useable prints but the bigger challenge with this project is actually revisiting these times of my life for the first time.

Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
Shadows I've Seen 2
Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
Shadows I've Seen 3 : 8 x 10" Geatlin Silver Prints

Innovation does not only happen in the field of technology — it occurs everyday in an artist's practice. What do you do for inspiration?

The world around me inspires my photos, while impulses dictate my stitching and writings. The process is split into two very different parts. When shooting I take a lot of photos. I do not consider any particular scene or frame precious. I allow myself to be distracted by anything without discriminating. I shoot a lot of film and take a lot of photos—For a long time it was difficult to be outside without a camera and I would look down on myself for using it as a crutch to go about life. I now see it as a tool and I embrace it.

Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
Shadows I've Seen I Gelatin Silver Prints (Six 4x6" Prints), Waxed Thread, Ink 12" x 14"
Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
Untitled III
Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
Untitled Stitched: 12" x 15" Gelatin Silver Prints, Thread & Ink

How do you make your work, does it start with a sketch? Can you tell us about your style? How did you arrive at it?

After developing the film I make contact sheets in the dark room followed by full-size prints. At some point, in no particular order, I rip, stitch and write onto prints. I like to use darkroom prints and I enjoy the process but I also have used cheap pharmacy prints, archival pigment prints and whatever else I can make a photo on.

5 Prints after washing, after they dry I'll sew them together and write
Using waxed thread, by hand stitching together prints

Many artists live by their creative routines, do you have your own studio ritual? What does that look like for you?

I try to do both sides of the process every day; take photos outside and work on the photos inside. By doing it everyday when a good photo or moment presents itself it’s already second nature. The same goes with the studio, I might make meaningless things for any amount of time but when an opportunity or an idea to explore comes up, I’m already sitting with the work every day. I want as little resistance as possible, especially something like darkroom printing/stitching setting up can be tedious.

Work in progress

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest influences are photographers Daido Moriyama & Robert Frank, as well as William Klein, Jim Goldberg and Danny Lyon. I admire their work, the reasons behind the work, the execution and most importantly their photo books.

Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
"Untitled Centerfold" Newsprint, Thread, Ink "11 x 14"

What books or films are an important source of inspiration?

I look at photo books as much as I can and also think the book is the most effective and diverse medium of any art. My favorites are “The Lines In My Hand” by Robert Frank and Dadio books such as “Farewell Photography,” “Light and Shadow,” “Another Country In New York,” and “Hawaii” as well as “Provoke” 1, 2 & 3. There’s also important books like the “The Americans,” Raised By Wolves,” “Painted Contacts,” & “The Bikeriders,” “The Seventh Dog” and “Rich and Poor.”

How will Innovate Grant contribute to your practice?

I’ll be using the grant for supplies dark room paper chemicals and film, so I'll have no excuses.

Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
"Tears Everlasting" Gelatin Silver Prink, Ink, Thread 8" x 10"

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best advice given to me has been to believe in your work and keep creating.

What is the best advice you would give to other artists?

I would say do it every day even when you don’t want to, don’t get stuck in a type of thinking that things are too rigid. Try as many things as you can to see what happens. Put the time into it every day, even when nobody is there or cares to watch. You will only get better and better.

Innovate Grant Winner Joseph Rovegno
"Car On Essex" Arhival Pigment Print, Thread, Ink 8" x 22"

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