Although summer is a good time to escape the city, not everyone gets a chance to do it. In her new cover, Nicole Rifkin shows how clever New Yorkers find shade—and a hint of nature—in the thick city heat. We recently talked to the artist about her recent move, her process, and some of the people who’ve inspired her.
You just moved to upstate New York. Do you miss anything about the city?
I miss pretty much everything about the city. I spent ten years and all of my twenties in Brooklyn. I guess it’s natural to get older and be nostalgic for things I used to do. Like going to the Anchored Inn and listening to punks talk about good movies and bands they like (or, more often, dislike). Loud D.I.Y. shows in basements with ceilings shorter than me. I’m describing heaven. I think my husband and I especially miss the access to record stores. Our wallets are, like, It’s cool, you have an entire room full of records. But the heart wants what it wants—which, in this case, is more records.
Have you set up a new studio, or do you work on the corner of the kitchen table?
We’re in the process of setting up a shared studio space on the ground floor of our house, which is a converted barn. My husband is a musician and an engineer, so we both like to have a good amount of space. Right now, I’m working from my couch, and it’s wonderful. I watch reality TV and cooking shows, and chat with my cats, Gil and Gordon, about how they’re a couple of good guys.
The graphic quality of your work can be reminiscent of comics. Which artists inspire you?
Oh, always comics: it’s the underlying storytelling that goes into the imagery that’s interesting to me. When I was younger it was a combination of Jordan Crane, Charles Burns, and Daniel Clowes. Also, Adrian Tomine: when I see his work, my heart stops. It’s so thoughtful and clean. Los Bros Hernandez—the cover of “Love and Rockets” No. 24 made me the person I am today. Michael DeForge makes me feel insane and happy, and also genuinely a little guilty for not working harder. Have you seen how many books he puts out? It’s mind-bending.
This cover has a couple of nods to writer friends. How do your friendships with writers, artists, and musicians play a role in your creativity?
I think that knowing other creative people, working with other creative people, is the environment I excel most in. I want to connect with people on an “I make stuff” level. For this cover, I drew my friend Sadie Dupuis, from the band Speedy Ortiz, which consistently inspires me. I asked her to pose so that I could give something back to her, in a way.
For more covers about summer reading, see below:
“Reading Time,” by Anthony Russo
“Siesta,” by Lorenzo Mattotti
“Escape,” by Malika Favre
Find Nicole Rifkin’s covers, cartoons, and more at the Condé Nast Store.