Joshua Rivaldo of Rivaldo Art Studio – Why NEPA?

For Joshua Rivaldo, creativity runs in the family. His uncle and grandfather were both artists, and he remembers their paintings hanging in his childhood home in South Florida. Around the age of ten, Rivaldo felt the need to create something of his own… he just didn’t know where to start. That is, until he noticed the graffiti on the walls behind his school.

Rivaldo filled notebooks with graffiti and used Expo markers until they were dry. Her father noticed the initiative and bought her her first set of expensive markers. There were 136 different colors, a number he still remembers today.

The passion and dedication only grew from there. Rivaldo began taking art books from the library. He bent over Bridgman, endlessly practicing hands, bodies and faces. He eventually compiled enough work to send a portfolio to Ringling College of Art and Design, where he studied for four years. He currently works as an illustrator and concept artist, particularly for movies and video games.

Rivaldo eventually left Florida during the pandemic. His father, the owner and chef of Hooked in Clarks Summit, had moved to NEPA a few years earlier, and Rivaldo decided to follow in his footsteps. He now lives in the Abingtons, where he balances his freelance ventures with his job at his family’s restaurant. He even designed the labels for Hooked’s new range of frozen soups, which is available at select Gerrity supermarkets.

This spring, Rivaldo begins the next leg of his journey and opens his own art studio at Clarks Summit. The studio not only serves as her workshop, but also as a place where the whole community can connect to art. He plans to offer art classes and workshops for all ages, as well as services like digital portraits and graphic design.

We met Rivaldo at the new studio. We had the chance to see some of his amazing work, hear his story and ask the essential question: why NEPA?

How long have you lived in NEPA?

I’m going for a year and a half.

What brought you to NEPA?

I graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. After graduating there, I moved here. I was supposed to be working on a WWE opportunity in Boston, which would have been super cool. It would have been for a clothing artist, which I was really excited about. But I graduated in 2020, so two of my internship opportunities fell through completely. They had no budget to hire new people. I moved here to Pennsylvania specifically to be closer to my dad because he had the restaurant.

Did anything surprise you about NEPA?

Yeah, the time people take out of their day to talk to you. It’s pretty awesome. Everyone is very supportive. Everyone is very in tune with each other. Being from Florida, people are idling at 70 miles an hour, so there’s not much chance of getting on the main connection or really collaborating or contributing with each other, whether it’s whether it’s companies, products or anything else. It gave me more inclination than I could start a business, and it would be a great starting point.

What do you like in your city?

That’s how people help each other. Just look at COVID, when Hooked only did takeout. I think that explains northeast Pennsylvania more than anything. Meanwhile, people supported the restaurant when it was not open. We were only doing takeout, cars were waiting for us there. It’s just this idea of, “I know you’re going to be open eventually. I know you have a good product. We got you.” Then we opened, and look at all that hospitality. It’s something that doesn’t make national headlines. It’s something that doesn’t get publicized a lot. I think it should be in the foreground.

What is your favorite NEPA restaurant?

It will be in public, right? So, hang on. [laughs] But no, it’s either between Hooked and Rosario’s, just because of the locality. I know a lot of people there. When the time comes when I walk out of the restaurant and maybe I haven’t done anything for myself, they throw extra garlic knots at me. They always look out, so I appreciate them.

What is your favorite activity at NEPA?

If I have more free time, I usually take my girlfriend to Scranton. Scranton is awesome. They always have something to do. I love D&Ds. It’s a collectibles store over there next to The Railyard. I love this city, right with the train station next to the Radisson and all this atmosphere.

What was your proudest moment as an artist?

The proudest moment I’ve ever had creating art was seeing the soups [Hooked’s line of frozen soups] in the store. For sure. I don’t just think for myself, but for my father. I think that’s probably one of my proudest moments – to see his product being described visually and having it meet the same level of passion.

What is your favorite piece?

Those faces behind you. I just made them last week. They are called my “Face Phases”. I try to reach a hundred. This series is called “Fruitful”, so its name is Berry, its name is Lemon and its name is Peach. I have three more to come: Orange, Kiwi and Grape. I will continue to do so. They’re really quick to make, but the point is to eventually be the man with a hundred faces and try to animate them and try to make clothes and stuff like that.

What’s next for you?

My goal is longevity – to be the change you wish to see in the world, to be the light in people’s lives. I’m not just an artist. I am much more than that. I like to talk. I like to connect. It’s a way of infiltrating people’s lives, motivating them and pushing them to go further. It doesn’t have to be creative, just so you don’t lose that childhood enthusiasm or passion you had as a kid, whether it’s something you do.

It’s hard, especially in art. If I can do it for one person that would be great. But the goal is not a person. I hope it’s a thousand. I hope it’s more than that. But that’s how I start.

Where do you see NEPA going in the future?

It’s hard to say because I got here when it was COVID. I think the biggest thing I see or hope for in the future is probably more events, more common things for people to come together. I think it’s great, like Summit Second Saturday and First Friday. I’ve seen that a lot. There are always things and stuff like that happening.


I think coming from Florida I was a small fish in an ocean and I didn’t really know when I got here that this was going to be my destiny or this was going to be part of my journey. I realized I was one of the few artists really trying to do that in the area. So I was a big fish in a small pond. I realized instantly that this is a great place.

The more I saw the family and community aspect of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the more I realized it was something that was missing from my art and my approach. It was something that invigorated him.

You can see more of Rivaldo’s work and follow his latest projects on his website, Facebook and Instagram.

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