Josh Raiffe's commitment to proactive designs and excellent craftsmanship is evident in every piece he creates. Glass is his main medium, and he hand-makes each piece, carefully blowing and shaping the glass to create unique works of art. His passion lies in self-expression, and he finds that working with glass allows him to tap into an emotional and instinctual space that transcends language and rationality.
The Raiffe family has a long history of creative endeavors, with four generations of toy designers and inventors. They have always used their ingenuity and creativity to bring joy and love to children. Josh Raiffe continues this family tradition but in a new medium – glass. He sees glass as a wonderful mixture of science, engineering, and wild artistic expression. Raiffe graduated from the Tyler School of Art and currently lives and works as a professional artist in Brooklyn. His work has gained recognition and has been featured in numerous publications and galleries around the world. His hope is that people will use his work to express themselves by adorning their bodies and spaces with objects that truly resonate with them.
One of Raiffe's recent notable projects involved creating a glass interpretation of the Coperni Swipe Bag for a photo shoot. Inspired by the painting of Saint Denis of Paris, Raiffe designed a glass handbag that reveals a halo around the wearer's hand. By experimenting with glass color combinations and applying overlays, he creates bags that illuminate the hand and create a sense of divinity from within. The laborious process required to create these pieces is worthwhile, as they have captured the attention of art and fashion enthusiasts alike. Raiffe's artistic process is deeply rooted in personal relationships and emotions. His pieces are inspired by emotions such as love, conflict, anger, and intimacy, and he aims to create objects that allow each individual to feel something unique based on their own experiences. He encourages people to use his work to express themselves and find meaning in adorning their spaces and bodies with objects that speak to them.
Josh Raiffe's artistic journey has been shaped by his upbringing and education. He is the son of Meryl Raiffe, the owner of The Glass Underground in New Jersey. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Tyler School of Art and has had the opportunity to attend prestigious glass schools and work with renowned glass artists. He has also taught glass classes and collaborated with other designers to create original art installations for interior projects.
Raiffe's work has been exhibited in various galleries and has caught the attention of celebrities like Dojacat, Kylie Jenner, JT, Beth Dewoody, Olivia Song, and Snoop Dog. While his pieces have been owned by celebrities, he ultimately creates art for the enjoyment of the masses. His goal is to create objects that prompt an emotional response from their audience and bring joy and beauty into people's lives.
Can you tell us more about your childhood background and how this led you to be a multidisciplinary artist?
My upbringing took place in the unremarkable suburbs of New Jersey. My mother, an artist herself, played a pivotal role in nurturing my creativity. She dedicated entire days to art, covering every available surface with paper and providing a plethora of art supplies. Despite being a terrible student in high school, I was fortunate to encounter one transformative teacher who recognized something special in me. Mr. Bush, I am forever grateful for your belief in me, even when I didn’t deserve it.
How important is the education background for a multidisciplinary artist today?
In the broadest sense education is vital. Learning from other artists you respect can be revolutionary to your work. Also, research and experimentation is super important if you want your work to be grounded in the continuum of art and history. However, I don’t believe any formal training or study is necessary or important for success. You can learn what you need from living. Side thought, I love it when an artist has a very obscure and unrelated passion that shines through in their work. For example, a glass blower who used to be a classic car upholsterer who knows everything about the history of car interiors. This kind of obscure knowledge can lead to very interesting work and the only way to achieve it is via education.
When it comes to creating a new art piece, do you have a clear process behind it or are you just going with the flow?
I almost always have the final piece drawn out and a step by step process of how to make it before I start. Having said that, it often goes wrong or during the making process I see new shapes and relationships that I can’t ignore. I often end up changing the design in the middle of my process.
Could you share with us what sparked your interest in glass art and how it led you to launch the RAIFFE project?
Raiffe is my last name and people used to call me that in school. I began blowing glass at Tyler School of Art. I was initially drawn to the physical act of glass blowing because it seemed so dangerous, exciting, and also immediately gratifying. The Raiffe project is really just what I’m currently working on. Right now I’m mostly focused on the glass bags but I might transition to fish tank decorations soon. I just got a fish and I’m disappointed at the lack of artisan made fish decor. Plus, I think there are a lot of interesting possibilities when considering the interaction between the fish and its environment.
What challenges have you encountered while establishing and growing RAIFFE as a reality? How have you been able to overcome these challenges?
I’m too trusting and I care too much about being liked. I love people and always assume they are ethical when I should be more cautious because there are unfortunately some out there who have no problem lying and stealing from me. I have learned to make art without regard for its reception but I have a hard time applying this principle to my personal life. These are things I need to work on.
How do you see the relationship between art and technology evolving in the future? Are there any particular advancements or trends that you find particularly exciting or promising in your field?
The obvious answer is AI. But I’m more interested and surprised with the apparent wisdom in these programs rather than the production of images, designs or physical art. I ask chat gpt for personal and professional advice all the time. It’s an amazing teacher. I think people are so drawn to AI generated art, like images and poetry, because it’s very human but there is a slight detectable weirdness that is inhuman. This is relatively new technology so that quality is novel but I expect it will very quickly become trite. However, the knowledge one can glean from these programs is a durable advancement that will positively impact artists who use it.
Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring designers and artists who are looking to pursue interdisciplinary projects and explore art glass in their work?
Definitely don’t try to do it yourself unless you want to dedicate years to honing your skills. There are so many great artists who have sacrificed the time and effort with lots of cuts, burns and sweat to gain the ability to manipulate glass. Most will be happy to work with you but be sure to pay them well and give them the credit they deserve.
A letter to your future self.
Don’t forget to feed Barry. (Then I’d like to send a funny or cute GIF) read the journal you kept in Peru.
I Love you, Josh Raiffe