Michael J. Ryan lives and creates art on his own terms
Philosophical artist says people 'are buying a piece of me'
Michael J. Ryan started drawing comic book characters as a child. He was inspired by his dad who was an artist, but Ryan adds that he did not get serious about art until he was 16 or 17. He credits a great art teacher in high school and then Ryan went on to attend college for over seven years first at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, followed by course work at the University of Iowa.
It has been two years since Ryan became committed to become a full-time artist and to make a living at his chosen occupation. Last summer he was selected to paint one of Loveland's transformer boxes and this sparked his career. Now with a studio at Artworks on Railroad Avenue, he is ready.
His dad was an incredible inspiration, but Ryan views him as the quintessential "starving artist." As Ryan puts it, "Finding myself has been its own reward. Now that I am 30, there is a certain satisfaction in earning my own living on my own terms." Ryan is marketing his work using social media. He has no criticism of galleries, but feels that he does not need someone else to sell his work. Although there are new avenues for marketing art, he says that there will always be a place for hard working gallery owners.
"I was a hard-drinking, hard-thinking kind of an artist -- a Hemingway type of a guy," states Ryan. He now he wants to live life at a slower pace and to take a step back to gain perspective on his work. Ryan now realizes, "Success feels so good. It could be as simple as painting that sold for $40 or it could be one that sold for $1,500." He pointed to a group of struggling roommates that pooled their money to purchase one of his pieces. "People are not just buying my painting, they are buying a piece of me," Ryan points out.
Art is inherent in the human condition, but Ryan feels that it needs community support. "Art is one of the most obsolete things in the world -- and centuries later, artists are still using the same tools -- brushes and a canvas with oil-based paints, but people still love it." Ryan observes. He feels painters become obsessed, "It is like a child told not to play in the mud. The child knows it is wrong, but keeps on doing it. In my case it is the smell of the linseed oil and the sensation of spreading it around."
Ryan believes in his work. "My paintings come with a lifetime guarantee. I want people to communicate with me and to be happy with my work." As for the life as an artist, Ryan concludes, "Art is not like making light bulbs -- you have to be in it for the long haul and be true to yourself."
Michael J. Ryan's work can be seen at nocturnearts.com.