Sex, Art & the Highs & Lows
An Interview with Ryan Travis Christian
May 21, 2021
Have you always aspired to create art, or did you discover your calling later in life?
Like most (I think?) I drew and all that as a child. I stuck with it as I got older, tracing cartoons and recreating band logos in the margins of my notebooks. I never considered doing it for a living until maybe 2005, seemed ridiculous to me, still does.
Did you study art as a student or are you self-taught?
Yeah, I went to art school in rural Illinois. It wasn’t renowned for art by any means, but was well within my budget. Started in graphic design but graduated with a Bachelors in painting. I really took it upon myself though to bone up and learn everything I could about contemporary art, galleries, and artists. Really immersed myself in it. If I wasn’t making it, I was looking at it or discussing it.
What artists informed your development? And what artists do you look to now for inspiration?
I could write a novella of names that have inspired me at one point or another or that do currently. Ub Iwerks, Max Fleisher,, The Hairy Who, Bridget Riley, The Mission School people, Paper Rad, Eric Yahnker, Joyce, Pensato, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Peter Saul, Crumb, Ellen Birkenblit, Nicole Eisenmann, Basil Wolverton, Jack Kirby, Ralph Bakshi, Carroll Dunham, Eddie Martinez, Bendix Harms, Lamar Peterson, Cory Arcangel, Van Hanos, Jamian Juliano Villani, Avery Singer, Joseph Yoakum, HC Westerman, Robyn O’Neil, Adam Green, Hein Ko, Sayre Gomez, and so on and so forth.
What was a pivotal moment in the evolution of your work?
I think it was 2009, I made this drawing of some fool crashing his car into a tree (after Jackson Pollock), and it just had this smokey, hazy, rubber- hose look to it that felt exciting and fresh and interesting to me, so I ran with it. It seemed like a great style to convey the ideas I wanted to put out there.
Tell us about your process. Do you begin with an image or a concept?
I’m not married to an exact way of working. I start different works differently. Some are meticulously planned out to a tee. Others are more responsive and change as the work progresses. I sort of go through waves of making work a certain way and get tired of it then shift to a different mode for a bit. I almost never sketch no matter what my approach is though…I always jump right in, for better or worse. I’m impatient.
What informs your work? As a visual artist, are you inspired by music, film, science, literature or other art forms?
All of that yeah and then more. It’s informed by my experiences. All the music I hear, all the smells I smell, all the people I talk to and relationships I have, the movies I watch, and food I consume, and injuries I sustain, and sex I have, my highs, my lows, my feelings, all that shit.
What was the most challenging project that you worked on?
I think honestly it was last year in 2020, simply making an oil painting that I thought was decent enough to hang on a wall. As silly as that sounds, it was well out of my comfort zone.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
Besides the obvious, “doing whatever I want whenever I want” perk. Traveling the world and meeting so many cool people is also pretty mind melting and wonderful.
What made you choose to drop with LGND?
I like a lot of the other artists that are onboard with LGND. I also think the low impact environmental aspects is very attractive!
How do you think NFTs will change the future for artists?
That’s a great question! I’m not one to speculate that much, so I have no idea. But I think it’s an exciting time to see what people do with this new medium.