Thursday, December 10, 2009
Interview with Artist Shane Ryan
Shane Ryan is an artist who crafts gritty, realistic tableaus of terror and is gaining popularity in the horror community. Hailing from Australia, Ryan specializes in intricate hand-drawn depictions of horror. Besides creating works on art on paper and canvas, Ryan also specializes in creating tattoo art. He has won prestigious awards for his art, such as the Guild Of The Golden Owl and Scepter Of The Goblin King Judges Award 2008. His bizarre and dark artwork has been selected for fine art shows both at home in Australia and in the US.
We recently had a chance to chat with Shane Ryan about his love of art, his influences and what draws him to the darker aesthetic. Read on for the interview!
Fatally Yours: How did you discover your talent for art and how long have you been creating art?
Shane Ryan: I started of drawing roughly at the age of 5, like most kids my age I began scribbling my favorite cartoon and comic book characters and have never stopped drawing since. I guess what began as a normal childhood activity quickly became a fascination and I was soon dragging my trusty crayons and scrap paper with me where ever I would go. Drawing is something that’s been with me my whole life pretty much but it wasn’t until I started school, particularly art and writing classes, that I truly discovered I had something a little special going on with my art skills. Especially when all my classmates started getting me to illustrate all there stories for them! I’d say I’ve been creating art for about 25 years now.
Fatally Yours: What inspires and influences your art?
Shane Ryan: There are so many things that inspire and influence my art, such as horror films, music from all styles and genres whether it’s Cradle of Filth, Circle of Tyrants, Hellraiser or some freaked out creepy opera. Music and art are closely related in what motivates their creators and I often find myself blasting tunes that fit the atmosphere and style of the piece that I’m working on or about to start, as well as true crime and the real sick shit that goes on in our world everyday…something mainstream artist’s seem to shy away from for some reason.
Fatally Yours: What draws you to the darker aesthetic?
Shane Ryan: The emotional reaction you can give people viewing your art for one. You just can’t get that sort of play on the human emotions from mainstream art. Ever since I saw my first horror film and the reaction it had on those watching it with me I knew that was what I wanted to achieve from art – to be able to grip people in intrigue and suspense and hopefully scare the crap out of them is a priceless reaction to see from something you’ve created. Also, I’ve always been interested in criminal psychology. That darker side that lurks hidden away in us all is something I’ve always been interested in exploring through my art work.
Fatally Yours: Would you ever consider creating a piece of art that wasn’t necessarily horror-themed?
Shane Ryan: Absolutely not…. no just joking! Dark horror subject matter is most certainly my chosen type of art and were I believe I excel, but I have done a number of non-horror pieces for commission for tattoo designs, fine art, murals, etc., ranging from traditional medieval fantasy art, street art, cartoony type stuff. I’ve actually been working on a tattoo design at the moment which is a Harley Davidson, bikey themed piece which isn’t necessarily horror-themed but thankfully still has a dark undertone. As long as what I’m working on has some dark element to it I find I can put my heart and soul into it, but when I comes to drawing pixies and unicorns it’s just not happening.
Fatally Yours: Did you have any schooling or are you self-taught?
Shane Ryan: I have done some schooling in the past, namely arts at high school and visual arts at tertiary college, both though I never really learnt much from. My high school teacher couldn’t draw a stick man and anyone that showed more artistic talent and skill than her was treated with abandonment. As for my visual arts studies, the teacher there at least admitted there wasn’t much she could teach me but I still learnt some things from her, mainly mixing and using oils, how to use pastels that type of thing. Basically all the techniques I use today I’ve taught myself, so I defiantly consider myself self taught. I’m actually working with the Australian Arts Council to try and get self taught artist’s to be considered for the Australian Governments Art Start funding. As it stands the funding is only available for university graduates, which I feel is plain wrong not just because I’m missing out but because there are so many talented artist’s out there that are self taught and have just at much potential as any and more then some uni’ graduates. If any of your visitors/readers are self taught artist in Australia and would like to join me on my quest to get us funding let me know.
Fatally Yours: What have your latest projects been?
Shane Ryan: Lately I’ve been doing quite a few custom tattoo designs, which have mainly been horror orientated. One I’m especially proud of which is a full arm piece done in the style of my “Nightmares and Twisted Thoughts” pieces. The way it all come to together as one piece wrapping around his whole arm I’m particularly happy with and hearing back from the client how wrapped he is and that he’s still noticing things in the design that he hadn’t noticed at first is also a buzz. I’ve always enjoyed art where you see more in it the more you look into it and that’s what I aim for with these types of pieces. To hear I’ve succeeded in what I was trying to achieve with the design is very rewarding.
Fatally Yours: What makes your artwork unique?
Shane Ryan: Firstly pieces such as “Nightmares and Twisted Thoughts”, the structure and form of these pieces isn’t something you tend to see everyday. The way in which I form all the contorted heads in such a way that they almost have a abstract edge to them but still remain plausible in there form and structure is something I’ve always worked hard at doing and are particularly proud of being a unique part of my art style. Also I’d say my shading technique is something that’s fairly unique to my work which has often been mistaken in the past as air brushing, which is a compliment really but can also be frustrating when people won’t take your word on it.
Fatally Yours: What is the role of the artist in society? What is the place of your work in society?
Shane Ryan: An artist’s role in society in large is what the artist themselves believe it is. Whether it’s providing people with an insight into something they wouldn’t normally know about or understand, sharing your interpretation of issues and events, inspiring others to achieve or in my case freaking people out, teaching them not talk to strangers and to lock their damn doors at night I guess.
Fatally Yours: Which is more important to you, the subject of your painting, or the way it is executed?
Shane Ryan: For me personally both go hand in hand, you can’t have one without the other, I believe the subject matter is what first draws someone to your work and plays on the viewers emotions and imagination, but it’s the way that it’s executed that keeps them drawn in, the fine details draw people to look into the artwork further and is what I believe turns a good concept into a truly great work of art.
Fatally Yours: Do you prefer a perfect smooth technique or a more energetic expressive technique and why?
Shane Ryan: Most of the time I like to approach my work with a smooth fine technique as I’m a fiend for realism and fine detail rather then a more expressive look which to me lacks the realism I enjoy creating, although on some pieces I have tended to use a slightly more rough, expressive technique to capture a more gritty, grainy feel to the particular piece, such as both my “Tribe” pieces and “Unhappy Campers” which are the more macabre settings of my work and seem to be more at home in a less polished style.
Fatally Yours: How do you get the word out about your art?
Shane Ryan: The best thing anyone can do for getting their art out to the world is networking, networking and more networking. The more people out there you can meet and let know what you do the better, you never know who knows who, whether you do this in a psychical form attending art and films festivals, visiting galleries, talking with people in the industry, getting involved in group shows or through on line methods such as having a site for your art and networking using sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, linkedIn, forums that are relevant to your art style, genre magazines and, of course, doing interviews with awesome horror sites such as the one I’m doing now.
Fatally Yours: What are your favorite horror movies?
Shane Ryan: For films some of my favorites would be George A. Romero’s Dead films, Dario Argento’s Demons 1 and 2, slasher films from the 80′s such as Friday the 13th and Rosemary’s [Baby], Feast, but really I don’t have a sub genre of horror that I prefer or anything as long as it’s done well, and is freaky enough I’ll get into it, although these days originality is something that I find is lacking in the genre, the remake bandwagon that the genre seems to be stuck on at the moments certainly not helping and I believe is risking horror films becoming to predictable and thus mundane, so come on producers take a gamble and make something original and keep the industry alive.
Fatally Yours: Who are your favorite artists?
Shane Ryan: I’d have to say H.R Giger, whose detail and realism is just awe inspiring and has certainly been a huge influence on my work when it comes to creating works with intricate detail, and Clive Barker – his concepts and style I’ve always been a huge fan of ever since I first watched the original Hellraiser. But with the current boom in the horror industry, including the horror art it’s nearly impossible to have favorites these days, there’s so much awesome talent out there and so many different styles and takes on the horror genre that I find I nearly have new favorite artist each week.
Fatally Yours: What upcoming projects are you working on?
Shane Ryan: I’m currently working on a new fine art piece called “Infection” which is a fusion of my realism and abstract styles, taking my out-of-this-world abstract work/style and getting it to make sense in a real world environment, which I have achieved by depicting a break out of a mutant infection inside an emergency quarantine medical ward, resulting in the once were humans in the ward becoming contorted twisted freaks. Also the bikey themed tattoo design I mentioned earlier, plus a number of other fine art pieces that I’m currently throwing ideas around the darkest corners of my imagination for, which I’m going to be putting to paper over the next few months. I also have some possible film contracts for story boarding and concept art on the horizon that if they turn into reality I will be starting work on real soon.
Visit Shane Ryan’s Official Site!