Pen World Article
Read about us in Pen World magazine, Feb. 2014.
From the beginning, Ryan was immersed in art. Growing up with both parents as teachers, who were active in the arts, Ryan received formal art training from a very young age. He was taught to "see" as an artist must, and was given the tools necessary to be creative. He was surrounded by original works by Picasso, Dali, Currier and Ives, as well as literature on all of the masters and modernists. Art was a part of life, and soon became a passion.
Through middle and high school, Ryan would lock himself in his room laboring over his drawing table. In 1991 he was one of 20 students to be selected from the entire state of Georgia to participate in the Governor's Honors Program, which is an intense immersion course in fine arts and academics. It was here that Ryan first tasted the thrill of working in the round. The summer of '91 laid the ground work for his move to the University of Georgia where he studied art, concentrating in bronze casting and ceramics.
Graduating with a BFA Cum Laud, Ryan became a designer, and eventually director of design, for a major rug manufacturer where he works closely with the trend teams of major retailers advising them on current styling and color. Many of his original designs can be found in various U.S. retailers. His career has taken him, to Belgium, Turkey, and Egypt, where he has worked closely with other design teams developing product.
Despite the rigors of the corporate world, Ryan never lost the need to work in his own studio. In fact, more than ever, he must create. His unique sculptural furniture has found its way into a Tampa gallery, and he has acquired patrons in Charleston, South Carolina where his work has been mentioned in South Carolina homes and gardens magazine.
Currently, Ryan's studio work revolves around making limited edition and one of a kind writing instruments for the serious collector and pen lover. He feels that all things should have an element of art innate within, and abhors the plainness of the items we use daily. His love for exotic woods and precious metals combined with this fixation on craftsmanship make this a fulfilling medium and art form.
While visiting the Academia Gallery in Florence, Italy, it was said that Michaelangelo's "David" was the result of the material guiding the hand of the artist. He saw more than a stone. He saw the human figure within and he cut away that which obscured it from our sight. The essence of this story left a deep impression on me. Beauty cannot be created by the artist, only revealed.
Bits of earth ground fine, mixed with polymers have been the instrument of painters empowering them to reveal the beauty latent in the natural pigments and to record the beauty before them. I painted fiendishly, but with time I only found disenchantment. The paintings became pictures, the pictures turned cliché. The tools of the craft, however, beckoned me back to the canvas, the foundry, and the potter's wheel.
A strange affinity for the craftsmen's tools quietly grew until I was no longer satisfied with the mundane tools produced by the monolithic fabricators of mass marketing. I felt compelled to make more than objects for visual enjoyment, but rather objects of beauty that enable the revelation of additional beauty. Hand tools of all kinds became objects of fascination, but none more than those used for writing.
I think of Mozart, Boccherini, and Chopin, whose creations still inspire, soothe, and convict us centuries after their demise. But for their writing instruments, their genius would only remain a ghostly sound within themselves. With out the pen, Romeo and Juliet remain a passing daydream in the head of the playwright. A mighty clash of arms brought death and destruction, where as the pen's stroke freed a nation of slaves.
For without the written word, the halls of history fall silent, the bard's tales are forgotten, and our spiritual heritage lost. How dare we reduce our finest gift to a tube of plastic packed with sticky liquid. I cannot think of more suitable materials to render respect than to look to nature and find those things which are inherently unique and beautiful. No man can create the unique grain signature found in a piece of exotic wood, nor can he replicate the subtle colorations of naturally shed antler. With proper craftsmanship, these materials can be rearranged into writing instruments suitable for our most precious enterprises.
The very nature of the materials I work with make each object unique unto themselves. Segments from the same tree or the same antler, even inches apart, take on an appearance that can never be replicated. As fine art should be, every piece stands alone as unique unto itself.