Meet Ringo Daniel Funes, American artist and protégé to the late Steve Kaufman. Ringo’s art is a bit Andy Warhol-esque which doesn’t come as much of a surprise — Kaufman formerly worked as an assistant to Andy Warhol. Ringo’s relationship began with Steve Kaufman when the artist founded a charity called “Give Kids A Break,” a program meant to help troubled inner-city kids by working in his art studio. This is where he as a child started his legacy.
Getting to work for Steve Kaufman wasn’t an easy task. Ringo had heard that Steve would give kids a job and he really wanted the opportunity. As intimidating as Steve was, he asked him for a job. Steve told him “You’re not street enough kid, you look like you have a better chance than the people I hire, come back next week.” For two weeks he would knock on his door, at 8 am sharp every morning, until Steve finally invited him in, offering him a job.
Ringo – The Protégé
Ringo learned the art of Silkscreening and layering processes, framing and canvas making, and listing and embellishing. Kaufman saw the potential and ambition that his young assistant was showing, and Steve eventually named Ringo his protege. He was very hands-on in many of Kaufman’s projects, and now many of his works hang alongside his mentor’s in Galleries around the world.
In 2004, Kaufman and Ringo joined forces to create a limited edition series — “The Legacy Series” — which celebrated Warhol and introduced Ringo to the art world. Hand-painted, embellished and screened by both Steve and Ringo, their first limited edition of 100 sheets sold out within a few months. The next edition created inside the Melrose art studio in 2006 was his first solo project, “Les Origenales,” which was a hit as well.
We asked Ringo a few questions to learn more about him.
DLX: Who are your biggest influencers?
Ringo Funes: My biggest influencers are Van Gogh and Salvador Dali. They expressed themselves without fear of what was trending at the time. They were great painters that knew how to paint like the Masters before them, yet each had their own style and never did they pander to the critics.
DLX: How do gallery shows compare to exhibitions?
Funes: In a Gallery setting, the mood is a bit warmer. Everyone has more fun in a room full of art. Everything is more intimate. In an Expo… Well… things are a bit fast paced, the day feels like it went by in 2 hours. BUT, you’re not only surrounded by great art and art lovers, you actually get to meet many wonderful artists from around the World.
DLX: What is your favorite place for inspiration?
Funes: I might sound weird but I love getting up earlier than everyone and going to the rooftop of my studio. The dew and early fog just make me feel like I’m rejuvenating. I’m a huge fan of rainy mornings.
DLX: What item in your studio is indispensable?
Funes: I can paint without a brush if necessary, but I cannot work without rags and maybe white paint. I can mix any color with that. Other artists would agree that rags are important when painting. It’s a must – next to thinner.
DLX: What is your favorite art piece?
Funes: I love Picasso’s Guernica. Capturing a moment in time, that till this day, many can relate to just by just looking at the expressions and chaos that is in front of them. Picasso was an extremely talented artist, and braver than anyone I know.
Following in the steps as his predecessor, all of Ringo’s events and exhibits have a form of help to his Community through his art sales. “Our Community is as important to me, as it is painting. Helping each other is the best thing we can do, One Step At A Time..” Making solo deals and like his mentor before him donating thousands in the arts to many charities got which West Hollywood club owners calling the studio for Kaufman and Ringo art. After spending nine years with, “the greatest”, he feels its only right to continue much of Kaufman’s legacy and guides the youth to a life destined to art.
If you’re interested in purchasing Ringo’s art or have any inquiries, please reach out to him directly at [email protected]
Featured images courtesy of Daniel Funes.