I grew up in England, in a rather large and bustling city called Liverpool. Famous for its football team and of course, the Fab Four - Liverpool has long had a rich and vibrant art scene - whether it be musically, through visual arts, poetry, or film. As a kid growing up in the city I was regularly dragged around art galleries and arts festivals by my parents. Art didnt mean much to me at the time - I wasnt all that aware of it - but it was always there in the background, and fortunately for me, our house was filled with the stuff! From wall hangings, to etchings and prints of some of the greats - lucien freud, klimt, mackintosh, egon schiele. As I got older I began covering my own walls with art -old black and white photographs of smiling strangers that I had picked up at the local junk store - dusty art prints that I had found in my parents loft of Pre Raphaelite women and angels, old Vogue prints from the 50s and 60s. Around the age of 16 I started collecting curios and bits of junk - mannequin heads, circuit boards, smashed up wing mirrors, old toy cars and strangely shaped scraps of wood and metal that I had acquired from dumpsters and alleyways during nighttime excursions.
At 18 I left home and headed to America for a 3 month cross-country stint. It was during that trip that I really developed a taste for photography. It wasnt exactly a conscious move - and it wasnt that I had hopes of being a photographer - but more like an attempt to document my many and varied experiences - to send images to the folks back home, and to have some visual stimulus to remember my trip by. In fact, it was that trip which signalled a whole new phase in my life. I was travelling alone and felt unusally bold, empowered, and more importantly - inspired. The more inspired I felt, the more pictures I took. I guess it was around this time that I became conscious of photography as a legitimate art form, and the sheer impact that a single image could have - the intrigue it could generate. It was the sudden realisation that through the use of the camera, I could shape or define a moment; an object; a subject or scene, from a personal and subjective standpoint. Through the camera, I could recreate - and further - redefine that scene. There's something incredibly powerful about being able to share your vision with the rest of the world. I really feel that when it comes to photography, and art in general, the possibilities are truly limitless!
2. Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist? why?
I dont think I actually 'decided' to be an artist. In fact , I have never really called myself an artist.
The whole concept of being an 'artist' and how that is defined - or how it defines a person - kind of baffles me. It seems a very exclusive category, and im not sure where or how I fit into it!
3. What is your dream when it comes to your career?
Hmmmmm....my dream? Well it would be incredible to make a living from taking pictures. It feels so natural to me, and of course, gives me an incredible amount of pleasure. I think I am at my happiest when I'm taking pictures. For a long time I wanted to get into band photogpraphy, simply because music is another great soucre of inspiration for me and I find musicians to be an interesting and ecclectic bunch - so great fodder for the camera. Since I've been in Van I have worked on a number of photography projects for the Discorder magazine - mainly live action [music] stuff like The Silver Jews, Monotonix, the Cave singers, Gang Gang Dance, and Jesse Gander of Hive Studios.
4. Have you gone through any struggles or obstacles on your path to being an artist? Did anyone of those obstacles/struggles help redefine your career goals?
In general, I have found it much harder to get involved in the art scene back home. If one not is not a trained artiste -people wont take you too seriously. But I've found it to be a completely different story over here. As I mentioned before - I've been published in the Discorder mag a number of times and have an exhibition of my work up at the Cabmie Cafe - so things are really progressing for me over here and it's refreshing to get all this great, positive feedback. That's the thing about North America - whenever I visit this part of the world, I feel a strong sense of possibility, and that there are many doors, open to all - you just have to find them.
5. who is your role model (idol) in your career path?
Im afraid I dont have a role model or idol as such -- but there are quite a few artists that inspire me, like Lucien Freud, Wolfgang Tillmans, Robert Frank, Henri Cartier Bresson, Marcel Dzama, Egon Schiele, Henry Darger, Bilibin, Gaugin, Cy Twombly...
7. Does general society have art stereotypes or preconceived notions about photography that peeves you?
Im sure there are preconceived stereotypes relating to photgraphy and art in general, but I dont buy into them, nor pay them much attention.
Obviously - art is up for grabs. It is not supposed to be boxed in or categorised or understood in any one specific way. The whole point of art is that it is open for interpretation. Sure, people box themselves in by following current trends or fads, and it will always be that way, but I dont care to engage in that stuff too much. I remember as a postpubescent teen, being a little overwhelmed or intimidated by art. I often thought to myself 'I just dont get it...what is this abstract painting or sculpture or drawing SUPPOSED to represent? What is its purpose?' It took me a while to realise that there is no definitive answer with art. It is a completely open forum - it is there to be looked at, questioned, understood, or misunderstood, interpreted and experienced on a very personal level - just as the viewer chooses. Once I had understood that, I really got into art.
8. Tell us about your exhibition: 'Snapshots'
It's a small collection of pictures - snapshots of my experiences, my travels - of pretty and interestings thing that have caught my attention. Oftentimes the subjects of my pictures can be quite simple, foregrounding 'ordinary', everyday scenes - a wrought iron staircase hanging on the exterior of a New York apartment block, shadows bending on a sidewalk, a stone angel bathed in golden sunlight, telegraph poles and formations of clouds.
9. How do you feel about Vancouver as a venue for arts and culture?
Vancouver definitely attracts an artistically inclined crowd. I was joking with a friend recently and we agreed that EVERYBODY in Vancouver is an artist. While they might work a menial daytime job, it is likely that they will be a writer, a poet, an filmmaker, actor, designer, musician or photographer on the side. It's amazing how many artists I have met in such a small space of time. Vancouver is obviously an inspiring and magnetic location for creative minds.
11. advice to any other aspiring artists/ photographers?
Advice to artists? Oh I suppose - just keep on with your work! And get it out there - get it seen by as many people as you can. If you havent done so already - be sure to set up a website or a blog showcasing examples of your work. Look into putting on a show. Think about collaborating with other artists. Take any opportunity that is made available to you [within reason!], and of course, put in the effort to create new opportunities.
Favorite Place to Eat:
Still searchin...Any recommendations?!
Favorite Place to Hang out:
Kits beach on a foggy day
Favorite Place to Shop:
Main street vintage shops
Thrift stores of all shapes and sizes
It has to be a choice between Berlin and NYCeee
What you like about Vancouver:
The colossal mountains looming over the city provide a majestic and impressive backdrop. I love the mix of city life and natural life - the beaches, parks, and luscious green areas of the city. I love how you can hop on a bus, train , bike, or get in your car, and be in a place of stunning natural beauty within a matter of minutes.
21 years old and studying Film & Culture at Simon Fraser University, Ryan Takes interest in Curatorial studies and Production Management. He has applied it to every aspect of Entertainment, Media, and Art and now is exposing Vancouver's Talent Pool with Art.Culture.City.