True (artist)

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TRUE
Born
David John Riggins

1968 (age 50–51)
NationalityAmerican
Movementfilmmaking, Illustration, graphic design
Websiteblerdfest.org

TRUE, formerly known as David John Riggins (b. 1968, Los Angeles, California) is an American artist, designer, filmmaker, and producer of German-Russian, African-American, and Blackfoot Confederacy descent who splits his time between New York City and New Orleans, LA[1]. He began using the word “TRUE” in place of his birth name in the mid-1990s[2]. His career has incorporated illustration, graphic design, animation, and filmmaking[3]; his current focus is producing cultural events.

He began his professional career in the late 1980s as a set painter for Roger Corman Studios in Venice Beach, California[4]. He moved to New York in 1991 to study at Sarah Lawrence College, and then transferred to The Art School of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (BFA, 1996). He first gained international recognition for a series of non-permissional site-specific “guerrilla” installations on the streets of Los Angeles[5] and New York City[6], and in NYC’s subway system[7] (1993–1994), which were done anonymously. When tracked down for comment by the press, he used a pseudonym (“str8up” [pronounced “straight up”])[8] both because he wanted to preserve his anonymity so that the focus would remain on the work and not himself, and also to protect himself from prosecution for “tampering [and] theft of government property[9].” The motivation for these projects was the belief that the “art world” was unnecessarily ethnocentric and elitist, and that art could have a much broader audience if it could also be seen outside the constraints of “official” art institutions[10].

His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), in Brooklyn, New York, Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, and the Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon, Portugal, as part of the Experimentadesign Bienal de Lisboa. He has taught or spoken about art, new media, and design at institutions such as The Cooper Union, The New School University, Parsons The New School for Design, Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, and Sarah Lawrence College, among others.

He has been interviewed and / or had his work featured in: All Things Considered (National Public Radio)[11]; Arc Design Magazine (Brasil) (discusses TRUE’s work in the Lisbon Biennial)[12]; AREA (a Phaidon design book that named TRUE as one of 100 of the world’s “most innovative emerging graphic designers”)[13]; BBC-TV (UK); Crain’s New York Business[14]; Deseret News[15]; Diseña, Crea, Siente: El Poder del Diseño Grafico para Generar Emociones (Design, Create, Thrill: The Power of Graphic Design to Spark Emotions)[16]; Eye Magazine (in which designer Stefan Sagmeister refers to TRUE’s subway stickers as “the one piece of graphic design that truly influenced me”)[17]; GalleryBeat (TV); How Design Magazine[18]; I.D. (International Design) Magazine (who named TRUE as one of the “I.D. Forty” [40 of the world’s “leading design innovators”])[19]; Los Angeles Times[20][21]; M.A.P. Magazine (Australia)[22]; Manhattan File Magazine[23]; Men’s Club Magazine (Japan)[24]; Metropolis Magazine (who named TRUE as a “rising star of the new millennium”)[25]; New York Daily News[26]; New York Magazine[27][28]; New York Times[29]; The New York Times Magazine[30]; Pix Magazine; The Practical Handbook for the Emerging Artist[31]; Sagmeister: Made You Look,[32]; Stefan Sagmeister’s TED Talk, “Happiness By Design”[33]; Surface Magazine[34]; Time Out New York[35]; The Village Voice[36] and others. An educational CD-ROM video game for which TRUE did illustration, animation, and UI design won the top award, the “Palm d’Or,” at the MILIA Interactive Conference in Cannes, France.[37]

He has lived in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, since 1999, where he has received numerous[38] public art commissions[39], and where he founded a free annual children’s film festival called The KIDflix Film Fest of Bed-Stuy!, but now splits his time between Brooklyn, NY and New Orleans, LA[40], where he produces New Orleans’ first-ever Black Nerd Festival called BLERDFEST![41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kandace Graves, Gambit, “BLERDFEST! presents convention and costume ball for black geeks” April 5, 2019. [1]
  2. ^ Judith Messina, Crain’s New York Business, “Cyber Whiz Kids Exercising Options,” May 13–19, 1996. This is the first known interview in which he uses the name “TRUE.”
  3. ^ He started an independent documentary film production company, TRUEstories PRODUCTIONS, in 2013; their first film, BLACK PERVERT, about alternative sexuality in the Black community, is now in production [2]
  4. ^ TRUE’s IMDB page
  5. ^ Steve Harvey, “Only in L. A.,” Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1994.
  6. ^ Ellen Cohn, New York Magazine, “Sign of the Crosswalk,” December 6, 1993. [3]
  7. ^ The New York Times Magazine, “Philosophy In Transit,” August 28, 1994.
  8. ^ Ellen Cohn, New York Magazine, “Sign of the Crosswalk,” December 6, 1993. [4]
  9. ^ Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, “Meddler Makes Light of Pedestrian Traffic,” October 6, 1993. [5]
  10. ^ Katharina Sand, Manhattan File Magazine, “Art in Unusual Places,” November 1994.
  11. ^ All Things Considered, NPR, “New York Artist Uses Crosswalk Signs As His Canvas,” December 2, 1993. [6]
  12. ^ Arc Design Magazine, “Comunicação E Olho Crítica (Communication and the Critical Eye),” February 2006. [7][permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Phaidon, AREA, April 2005". Archived from the original on 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  14. ^ Judith Messina, Crain’s New York Business, “Cyber Whiz Kids Exercising Options,” May 13–19, 1996. The article was a cover story about how TRUE and others were acquiring stock options from the companies for whom they did work.
  15. ^ Rick Hampson, Associated Press writer, Deseret News, “Repent/Sin: Pedestrians Shown The Way,” October 5, 1993.
  16. ^ Design, Create, Thrill: The Power of Graphic Design to Spark Emotions, First Edition, Sara Caldas, published October 2019. The book (published by Promo Press, Barcelona, Spain) interviews designers from around the world, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The UK, and The US, on how to create emotional impact in graphic design. [8]
  17. ^ Stefan Sagmeister, Eye Magazine, “Inspiration,” Autumn 2001.
  18. ^ How Magazine, “From the Heart,” December 2001.
  19. ^ Bonnie Schwartz, I.D. The International Design Magazine, “TRUE Believer,” February 2000. I.D. puts out an annual themed list of the 40 best designers in the world (in 2000, the list was of who they considered to be the world’s “leading design innovators” who were 30 and under).
  20. ^ Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, “Meddler Makes Light of Pedestrian Traffic,” October 6, 1993. [9]
  21. ^ Steve Harvey, “Only in L. A.,” Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1994. Ironically, the article’s title erroneously suggested that a piece like TRUE’s could “only” exist in Los Angeles, at least a year and a half after numerous articles had been written about the pieces that had been appearing on the streets of NYC – including the aforementioned article in the Los Angeles Times a year prior.
  22. ^ Tina Brown, M.A.P. Magazine, “International Success: TRUE,” December 2003-January 2004.
  23. ^ Katharina Sand, Manhattan File Magazine, “Art in Unusual Places,” November 1994.
  24. ^ Men’s Club Magazine, Issue 406, November 1994.
  25. ^ Frances Anderton et al, Metropolis Magazine, “Crash Landing: 54 Unscheduled Arrivals: 54 Experts on the Future of Design,” January 1999.
  26. ^ Rick Hampson, “Manhattan Mystery: Crosswalk Signs,” October 7, 1993.
  27. ^ Ellen Cohn, New York Magazine, “Sign of the Crosswalk,” December 6, 1993. [10]
  28. ^ Alice Twemlow, “Rock / Don’t Rock,” New York Magazine, February 14, 2005.
  29. ^ Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times, “Panic / Don’t Panic,” October 17, 1993.
  30. ^ Times Staff, “Philosophy in Transit,” The New York Times Magazine, August 28, 1994.
  31. ^ The Practical Handbook for the Emerging Artist, Enhanced Second Edition, Margaret R. Lazzari, published January 2010. The pieces are mentioned in the chapter about “Guerrilla Art”: “Guerrilla activity is nonsanctioned artwork that is done anonymously and appears without warning in public places.”
  32. ^ Sagmeister: Made You Look, Stefan Sagmeister, published January 1999. [11]
  33. ^ In addition to his inclusion of TRUE’s subway series in his design book and mentions in numerous interviews, Mr. Sagmeister has also discussed it at countless design symposiums around the world, including his TED Talk, referring to it as “…one of the few pieces of graphic design that really touched my heart.” [12] This TED talk became the basis for Sagmeister’s The Happy Film.
  34. ^ Surface, June 1, 2000
  35. ^ Brett Johnson, Time Out New York, “Brooklyn’s Finest,” March 10-16, 2005.
  36. ^ The Village Voice, “Instant Karma,” May 25, 1993.
  37. ^ Michael D. Bush, Multimedia Monitor, “Cannes Content Focus: International Publishing and New Media Market Conference,” February 1997. The game was The Pink Panther: Passport to Peril, published by Wanderlust Interactive. It won numerous other awards, including the European EMMA Award for “Best Family CD-ROM.”
  38. ^ Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, “Brooklyn Icons Shirley Chisholm, Lawrence Fishburne and Jackie Robinson Gaze Upon Fulton Street,” January 23, 2009. [13] Archived 2011-07-25 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Ashaunte Solomon, Brooklyn Family, “The Brooklyn Hall of Fame, On the Stairs” September 2012.
  40. ^ Kandace Graves, Gambit, “BLERDFEST! presents convention and costume ball for black geeks” April 5, 2019 [14].
  41. ^ Doug MacCash, NOLA.com, “Blerdfest, New Orleans’ first ‘black nerd’ sci-fi festival, is Saturday” April 5, 2019 [15].

External links[edit]