Artist Interview With Ryan Walker by Victor Zarazua
I met Ryan back in the early 00’s at the old art silos back then it was the lowend of Blue Star for the youth and artist’s who weren’t just there yet. Through the years, Ryan and I have kept in contact and I’ve watched him grow as an artist & person. I reached out to him to see if he could maybe put a perspective on the current landscape we are all now subject to. As most artist are somewhat introverts, quiet, and who can tend to remain calm during tough times, Ryan’s approach may be just what we all need.
First things first: What's your name and how old are you and where are you from?
Ryan Walker, 42 years of age from the beginning to now.
Ryan! Right now what are you doing?
Staring at the fish in my friends obscenely large fish tank. It’s against a beige wall and the lighting is warm. I was bummed when I realized what I thought was a big fish was actually a vase on it’s side. I just thought it was a mellow fish compared to the others. Bummer high.
Can you tell me more about the art world you come from?
Sure. I was on the bus to school and this older kid who wore a denim jacket sat with me. He saw the scrawling of a concert stage I did on my book cover. He showed me how to draw the Twisted Sister logo then offered me a cigarette. I didn’t take it because I didn’t smoke yet. Being in first grade, I didn’t need a habit. He was cool till I saw him sitting in the office. He did that fist to palm motion and glared at me. I was quick to realize he wanted to beat me up. Someone snitched on his smokes!? Never saw him after that. That story also parallels my first trip to Art Basel Miami.
What type of artwork do you do, mediums?
I do artwork that’s for sale (*wink). Often bright and sometimes the taste is questionable. Typography/Design conversions. If it has pigment and will stick or stain, I’m good to go.
Enamel, acrylics, aerosol, wax, mustard. Situational commentary is my “theme”.
So a while back we were talking and you showed me a book project. If you can, could you tell us about it?
Yeah! “In The Grout” was proudly released at the Paris Book Fair in 2018 at the Cave Homo booth. It’s my compendium of Men’s restroom photographs from all over the world showing the sexual desperation that predates the convenience of internet dating.
When a grown man scratches into a bathroom stall with a key that they “ Want to ______ your______ and _____ with you and you’re _____ is going to love it,” sounds pretty serious to me. If you show up at the time/date location specified... you better be “down to clown”. Because that aggro horny dude is going to be there waiting. Who knows what’s going to happen if you have a change of heart (or whatever body part) that says no. Crass, filthily hilarious to some while sad all at once.
That’s what I put together with the help of LD Begthol (Nice Boys From Good Families.) and Luke Williams (@cavehomo). Thanks for the assist, fellas!
What does your world look like at the moment, are you working on things or relaxing?
I’m working on custom painted signs for an RV/AirBnB park in Bastrop Texas. It’s more math than it is expressive but just pulling the solid lines with a squirrel hair brush is incredibly cathartic. I’m fortunate to have this.
What is your first experience in the artworld that had a profound effect on you ?
In 1997 I called Blk/Mkt in San Diego after reading a write up on them in a skate mag. I asked for Shepard and they said “sure hold on”. I shot the breeze with him over markers and what to use for stencils etc. He asked for my address and a box showed up a few days later with chingo OBEY stickers, machine cut stencils of Andre the Giants face. HUGE Xerox’d posters of Andre the Giant has a posse and a note on making the wheat paste. BOOM! Game On! I hit the streets.
I always think artists do need extra hobbies, do you have any hobbies?
Yeah, it’s important to do other enriching activities. I like to leave skateboard decks in trees of subdivisions where getting a “newer” board isn’t financially possible. Same with sets of wheels or hardly worn skate shoes. I’ll take a pic and post it on Instagram saying “free” or tie a note to the shoes saying “free to new kickflips”. Trash to treasure.
More recently I’ve been recording *music again. Visual work felt like production at any rate so I needed to make some new noise. Coffee as a hobby. Using the word “Girl” as a verb (thanks Fonda Cox). Traveling to exotic cities that offer legal medicines not available in Texas to really “mellow out”.
How has this virus changed your daily movements?
Vic, my 13 yr relationship came to an end just as Covid-19 reached the states. My decision to buy a camper and mosey along the highway till I found a new place to settle has been brought to an abrupt halt. So for me, EVERYTHING is new/different. I’ve none of the daily rituals I previously had and wrapping my head around my situation along with the situation of the world has been eye opening, heart breaking and breath taking. I’m fortunate to wake up... to put on my gloves and mask to help keep me from dying. That’s made it a challenge for me to be creative in a positive light, but I’m working on it.
I’ve written a lot a cuss words lately for many different reasons, lol. Some are aesthetically pleasing while others look “angry”. C’est la vie, no?
Currently I’m on acreage that shares a fence with a State Park. Surrounded by dense pink trees, I’ve gone many days without seeing other people which I like but is probably not the best scenario for some people right now. I take my antidepressants and mood stabilizers along with the uppers and downers my psych Dr. deems necessary. Honestly, everyday is like Halloween. Full of a variety of tricks or treats. Making the best of it while dodging death cooties.
Anything you would like to share with us, anything you want to mention?
Yes I do.
We can and must be good to one another. Pay a surprise compliment that gives a stranger a smile. Take time to invest in yourself and what you need to be happy and healthy for as long as you can. Educate and be willing to learn something from another’s viewpoint. Love yourself to not take abuse from a family member, the media, your children or elders. The world’s tough but it can be more beautiful than you ever imagined.
What's on the agenda next as far as projects etc?
I’m currently working on project “Me”. We’ll see how it turns out. I’d enjoy collaborating with public spaces more (Permission walls). It’s me and what I can fit in a Teardrop camper facing the world for now. My brushes and some 1shot Enamel.
Do you have a playlist you go to when working, or what music do you tend to listen to?
Bomb ass question! My music machine shows I’ve listened to Lightning Bolt (discography), MF Doom and Show Me the Body on repeat heavily since January. I tend to listen to Burning Witch while making snacks.
If I’m forgetting something just add it here feel free to keep going.
Here’s some random notes I’ll share with the readers-
I’m not a gamer however, pinball is where it’s at.
“You used my bread pan FOR A CAKE?”.
THAT’S A CAKE!
NO, EVERYTHING IS HALF EQUAL.
I tried videoing but too dark. Gun shot . Got in camper lights off and locked in waited a few min to get out and walk up to street level. Police SUV was in church parking lot with two other cars. Police lights are on the fritz.
-I know that means hot because its on the side of Top Ramen. That’s hot. Cali Intay - grocery store kid
-Why can’t you just stay home? Nothing happens to you when you just stay home. - chick to beau
-Sometimes I think it but I don’t word it out of my head.
Little girl leaving restaurant
I’ll be in the front row
Big pocket full of No
tiny brain full of know
Thanks for having me, Victor.