B/D Apparel Artist Interview: Ryan Riss

Ryan Riss

The second installment in our Monday B/D Apparel Artist Interview series is with artist Ryan Riss.  Ryan designed the mind-bending head-scarfed hippie with a melting face graphic (literally), entitled Acid Trip.

If you think we’re way off on a peyote-trip describing Ryan’s works as residing in another dimension- you’d be surprised to hear what he has to say. “I like the idea of relating simple graphics to things like mandalas and other spiritual energy hippie training tee-pee type stuff.” Read the rest of the interview to find out what else makes Ryan’s third eye blink.

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1. What is your general aesthetic? How would you describe your work’s subject matter to someone?

Well, I really just do illustrative work- black ink on paper.   I love the way that the black and white make me feel- they are super simple but without the color can really adapt and take figurative functions to a bit of an abstract level.   My general aesthetic is textured cartoon comic psychedelic repetition- kinda.   I like the idea of relating simple graphics to things like mandalas and other spiritual energy hippie training tee-pee type stuff.   The images I create need to be pushed to a limit and heavily tripped out.  I generally vibe off of pop references and go from there.   Ideas and subjects that catch my attention, like textures, zombies, ooze, cartoons, text, rap, naked bits, and the future all seem to make their way into a drawing.   They come into the process randomly and I accept that- I vibe it out until it’s a more formal idea.   There’s not generally a real preconceived agenda.   It’s all very personal and merely the way these things make me feel, thus a lot of what I do seems rather cryptic or inaccessible to some folks.  The direct narrative isn’t there and it’s more abstracted.  It’s basically psychedelic mantras for a tropical future- on repeat.

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2. Describe how you create your works? Some of your tools of the trade?

Something I saw or heard or thought is bouncing around in my head and when it forces itself to the surface I just sort of try and vibe it out.   I start to make small drawings and sketches on paper of what I’m thinking about and put the main details and points that I know need to be in the thing.   I always end up putting these on loose leaf paper so i have piles of them lying around all folded up from being in pockets- and thus I always have a monster pile full of sketches, ideas, and reference materials on deck.   After I hit a point where I feel confident about the idea I loosely sketch it on the good paper.   Once the sketch looks right then I fill it in with the pen.   That’s the best part because I can see it in the future finished and I just need to get to the end and it’s just like adding the details and bits that make it totally bitchin.   This part I feel is like taking a journey, it feels like making a map, with all the little details somethings are more precise and simple and other things are just a matter of putting on repeat.   And furthermore it’s when all these mounds of details come together that we have the final product- the whole piece.   That’s it.  I might use some drafting tools but that’s about it.   I like doing it by hand seeing how things naturally develop and repeating a drip over and over again.   Fun.   That’s about how I do every piece.   I love it.

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3. Walk us through the design process for the shirt you made for Beautiful/Decay.

I made some sketches of some ideas.   I sent those sketches to you guys and you said one of them was rad.   After that I just tweaked it and drew it all out.  It was fun and simple.   It was an all drip ooze face with some hair and a head piece bit and super simple and fun.   In fact I like how simple it was and need to make more simple things.   I’ve been really into native american patterns and designs, so there’s a bit of that in there.  I totally love tons of drippy oozing stuff so to just make an entire face of ooze made total sense as far as being awesome.   I love the idea of this dude with just a melted face.   And there’s hair.  I just thought of what the future would look like.

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4. Advice for any designers, artists trying to get their work seen?

Jeez, I’m still trying to get mine seen.  I just really try to draw each and every day and only create work that I’m proud of- that way in the end if nothing ever comes of anything I’ll still be just as stoked about my work.   Mine’s not really seen much but I totally enjoy just making stuff that I’m proud of and into- if no one really wants to get into that then so be it- as long as I can retain my self confidence to be excited about the work I make.   I’m excited every day to draw and I don’t want to lose that.   I just want to draw.   + Stay positive.   And never ever trust the man.

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5. Some of your favorite other artists, or influences?

A few things that influence me are horror movies, textile patterns, rap, nakedness, psychedelic bits, optical patterns, typography, bold and simple yet telling graphics (cross, happy face, yin-yang), repetition, details, horror, tits (appeal), tripping out, zombies, Cali/west iconography, black and white, geometric patterns, hippie shit, crazy couture fashion, cartoons, comix, catch phrases, monsters,  living the dream, permanent vacations, etc.

Some artists I really admire are Wally Wood, Chester Gould, Charles Burns, Basil Wolverton, all sorts of comix guys that I admire for their use of line.  I like the old EC comics that were around and the Mad comics that came out and a bit later the underground comix guys that got around- all the Zap comix alumni(and all the other unnoticed comix from that time) and all the sort of Hippy Psychedelic poster art that preceded that.   I really like the old animated cartoons that UB Iwerks was putting out and that other stuff- again- in black and white it just looks so tripped out.   More unrelated but related stuff like Paul McCarthy and Ed Ruscha.   All those people that make rad patterns and mandalas and spiritual crap.   Man there really are so many other bits I could name.   I just really dig art.   I’m constantly inspired everyday.

In the end I’m really always just circling around my self, contradicting myself, and on repeat like I am here.

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