The beautiful man

The beautiful man

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Rob Ryan

Less than 24 hours after the Sue Lawty another talk at Leeds College of Art this time from the renowned and inspirational Rob Ryan. There is often a sense given out that Rob Ryan has become too commercial/sold out etc etc this is not the case and this rare talk that he gave in Leeds really clarified this and the length of his journey as an artist to a point where his art could sustain him and his family effectively. For his first 15 years after graduating he managed with the usual mix of jobs to support his arts practice, this was enlightening for all practitioners and hopefully gave a glimpse of reality after the completion of an MA!

Rob Ryan sees himself as a fine artist his MA(RCA) was fine art specialising in print making, so it was a natural progression from screen printing to cutting out. All the work begins with drawings and words are ever present within all areas of his work, images of his sketchbooks showed this constant dialogue of ideas and visuals. Whilst at University his tutors told him that the words in his work were not key; his thoughts on this were "I  am not bothered its important to me so I will do it!" The concept of artists being pigeon holed into specific sectors was discussed often Mr Ryan is deemed a Graphic Designer this he felt was not the case and to him he i still a fine artist, so maybe we should all use that catch all title of Artist.
After the pieces are cut by hand usually by interns though this is a shared role, usually R.R. draws the pieces and then others cut them the work is then sprayed with Montana Gold spray paint. The works are time intensive with a piece 5.5ft long will take over 400 hours to make. The cuts are then either used as stand alone art pieces or through to screen prints and occasionally into laser cut cards and more commercial items. He has his work shop with screen print facilities and a small kiln around the corner form the Ryan Town hop on Columbia Road, he sees it as really exciting that the work created in the workshop during the week is then taken to the shop for sale at the weekend, that the quantities are small and you get the response from the customer. Very much inspired by Keith Haring in the 1980's where his work was created for all sectors of the market from fine art pieces to screen printed badges.

Discussed the range of collaborations that he has undertaken and the feeling that you need to have a go at lots of different things to get ideas out to as many people as possible and to see what will work. R.R. has done much publishing work of book covers and illustration work -The Gift- Carol Ann Duffy, yet found publishing companies often difficult, he is working on his own book at the moment which enables him to write and draw his own work. He talked about a large collaboration with Paul Smith where he wasn't paid for his design and the design was used extensively on a wide range of products, this could have created bitterness, but R.R. saw this as a beneficial process as it enabled his work to be seen extensively and the beginning of future working relationship which has been beneficial for both parties.
Rob Ryan with bag designed with Lulu Guiness
"Give me work to last me all my life"

"Shall we call in sick one day and travel to the sea and hold hands all day"

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