The illustrations of Nicole Rifkin burst with the color and weight of pulp comics. The rough noise of color. The digital scruff of neon screentone. In each piece, Rifkin plays with perspective in search of shadow and shape, a new point of view on the ever-present human figure.
In her illustration for the June 2021 cover of the New Yorker, Rifkin shows a teen preparing for their day. The wall is adorned with stickers, flyers, and other personal keepsakes. The face in the mirror, calm, applies makeup. Peach fuzz on their upper lip and chin. It’s a beautiful moment, private, we see them as they want to be seen. As they see themself.
There is an ease to her likenesses, Jack White and Aidy Bryant emerge from simple markings with a dose of that Charles Burns cleanliness. Rifkin’s illustrations are felt with an emotional immediacy — the reality of her characters rendered in a sudden confident madness of linework and a brisk twist and dash of color. Each illustration hits like a new favorite song, urgent and unforgettable.