The L: You use a lot of signifiers of a working-class mainstream American culture that’s very remote to the New York art world; how do those function
in your work?
Ryan Humphrey: If anything, the New York art world is the thing that’s distant from our culture, so I’m using popular imagery or materials as something that I think people can relate to.
You sometimes borrow from artists like Marcel Duchamp; has it become impossible not to make art about art?
It’s ok to be a rapper and use a Public Enemy sample—that’s my approach to it. I’m gonna put my little Duchamp sample in and do my thing, but I don’t do covers; I’m not trying to do “Bring the Noise” again.
What other artists have influenced you?
I’ve always said my two biggest influences in my life are Evel Knievel and Eddie Van Halen. Both willed some sort of individuality—style, technique, concept, whatever—something really distinct.
Photos by Crystal Gwyn