Graduate Builds Rewarding Career as Artist After Developing Signature Technique at Kean University
When Ricardo Roig ’08 gets the inspiration for a work of art, he sees a flash of light. His other milestone moments have struck like lightning bolts, too.
His first epiphany came in elementary school, when he vowed to pursue a career in art “full-heartedly.” Lightning struck again when he met the woman he was certain he would marry, his muse and now wife, Michelle.
Roig was a student at Kean University when his path was changed once more with his introduction to screen printing, the artistic method he has transformed into his signature technique.
“I loved everything about it, from the cutting to the colors to the feel of the paper,” recalled Roig, who earned a B.A. in fine arts and painting/printmaking and then, two years later, his teaching certification.
The full-time artist remembers Kean as a nurturing community that “allowed me to find my artistic spirit and turn my passion into a purpose.” In tribute, he includes a bit of blue in every piece.
Roig creates in his home studio in Scotch Plains but centers his business around Hoboken, where he lived for several years, and Westfield, where he attended public school and later taught art.
He recently opened the Roig Collection @ Evalyn Dunn Gallery Annex in Westfield with curator Jaclyn Civins ’72, and he and Michelle plan to open a gallery in Hoboken this summer. Roig’s work remains on display at the W Hoboken hotel, where his four-year exhibit is winding down. He also shows his art at Gallerie Hudson in Jersey City, Gallery 71 in New York City, and in a window exhibition on Newbury Street in Boston.
Christopher Halleron, former publisher of hMAG, a Hudson County lifestyle magazine, is a friend who has one of Roig’s pieces hanging in his family room.
“Ricardo Roig is as adept at capturing beauty as he is at creating it,” Halleron said. “He is a compassionate, dedicated individual who knows what needs to be said and how to say it with authenticity. Always elevating those around him, he brightens Hoboken in ways I don’t think even he comprehends.”
Roig’s prints incorporate up to 25 layers of paint pushed onto a screen one color at a time through intricate stencils he cuts by hand. He creates the works, many of them streetscapes, in editions of 10 or 20. Also popular are his larger, one-of-a-kind collages that combine portions of earlier works. Roig is especially excited about his latest effort, a series of Picasso portraits recreated as screen prints. His pieces sell for $250 to $14,000, with murals fetching $20,000.
While it took years for Roig to build his business, he has always found buyers, starting from his days as a waiter and a teacher, when he sold art as a Hoboken street vendor and then in his own local galleries. Those experiences prepared him for his “big break” at the W Hoboken hotel. While galleries were quieter during the COVID-19 pandemic, Roig stayed busy creating commissioned murals and hosting online art auctions.
He started as an oil painter, attending schools that included the Maryland Institute College of Art. Having earned more than 30 credits before dropping out for financial reasons, he relied on a New Jersey tuition-waiver program to enroll at Kean, where a counselor suggested he try screen printing.
His advice to art students is to focus on heartfelt expression rather than making money.
“If you want to be a full-time artist, then work authentically to create something beautiful and new,” he said. “The rest will find its place as long as you are disciplined to work passionately every day. Your day job will quit itself when you're ready. Then, share your story and remember to continue to challenge yourself to write new chapters.”