. Audio Interview .
Take One
Artistic Origins
Growing Up
Break Down
Outsider Art
Philosophy

Michael David Rigney was born April 13, 1982 in Tacoma, Washington. Early on in life, he showed creative inclinations and an innate talent for creating art. Rigney’s mother encouraged his artistic whims and supplied him with the bare essentials he needed for creating his earliest works. In the years following, Rigney was accepted into a school for accelerated education in the arts, where he won top honors among his graduating class. This early success motivated Michael to continue developing his artistic abilities.

As a teenager, Rigney began to display a high aptitude for mathematics. He briefly gave up his creative pursuits in favor of mathematics and logic. A graduate professor at the University of Washington was so impressed by his tenacity with complex computations that he agreed to mentor the then eighteen-year-old. In a letter to the UW, his professor noted that Rigney was already working at a graduate student level. Rigney eventually became quite disillusioned with mathematics and attempted suicide for the first time at the age of twenty.

It became evident that Michael was suffering from delusions and paranoia due to an undiagnosed psychosis. Shortly after his twentieth birthday, Rigney was committed to Puget Sound Behavioral Hospital. While interred in the hospital, he began creating again, and doctors and patients alike took notice of his abilities. During the two-year period that followed, Rigney worked daily on drawings and paintings, cleverly utilizing his own take on traditional forms. Much of his work from this period has not survived, but it is likely that some pieces still exist in the private collections of those who purchased his work.

During the last months of 2004, Rigney found he had no funds with which to procure needed materials. As a result, he was inspired to try his hand at creating his first works of digital art. The relative crudeness of the tools initially available soon became a hindrance to the development of his work. It was not until he was able to acquire better and more suitable hardware and software that his true ability as an emerging digital artist became apparent.

In the years that followed, Rigney was exposed to traditional art theories and methods while networking socially with other artists online. As a creator, Rigney straddles the line between being an insider and outsider artist while creating his works in a truly modern way. The sheer volume of unique digital works contained within the Digital Outsider galleries stands as a testament to his dedication to the medium and to his ranged artistic vision.


Jason R. Willhelm