rob ryan makes positive paper cutting art brimming with love

Rob Ryan makes positive paper cutting art brimming with love

Homegirl London pays homage to Rob Ryan.  He’s a fine artist known for producing simple, uplifting and positive paper cutting works of art for his company Ryantown.  At the centre of these pieces are whimsical figures which are often paired with writing and hooked on love.  Rob makes lasercuts, screenprints and greeting cards.  His design style translates beautifully to ceramics like decorative wall tiles, plates, jugs, mugs and egg cups.  He also produces textiles – tea towels, cushions and fashion accessories.  Many of his pieces are limited edition and handmade which he sells from his shop located at Columbia Road in the East End.  I caught up with Rob Ryan to find out more.

rob ryan selection of products

Rob Ryan – Selection of Products

Meet Rob Ryan

Rob was born in 1962 in Akrotiri, Cyprus but lives and works in the UK.  He studied Fine Art at Trent Polytechnic and specialised in Printmaking for his postgraduate degree at the Royal College of Art in London.  Rob has had various jobs along the way – working in a cinema and being a cycle courier.  His art has been the one continuity and he’s always had a studio so he could experiment with his artwork.  He tells me – “My workshop is based in Bethnal Green, East London.  Twenty years ago it was very cheap so that’s why I’m here.  Almost everything in my shop is made by hand in my studio.  It’s only about a ten minute walk away so we usually put everything we’ve made that week into a little trolley and wheel it up there for Saturday morning!

rob ryan

Rob Ryan

I asked Rob how he came to the decision to start Ryantown, he told me – “I don’t think there was a defining moment when I wanted to own a business, it just sort of happened.  I gradually needed more help to meet the growing demand so it evolved into what it is now.  Having my own venture gives me the freedom to devote as much time as I want to a piece of work.”  He now has a staff of five helping with the website sales, design work and printing.  Rob reveals – “My wife Lorna is a co-director, muse and confidant!”

rob ryan believe in goodness screenprint

Rob Ryan – Believe in Goodness Screenprint

Rob explains the company name Ryantown – “Years ago I made a picture of a house by the side of a single road passing through a vast desert landscape (the kind of filling station you might find in the Colorado Desert).  Next to the house was a paddling pool and floating in it was a single, rather fat man that I suppose represented me.  A sign hung over the road that read ‘Welcome to Ryantown, Population 01.’  My dad showed great interest in this picture and asked if he could have it.  I presumed he liked it because it had his own name in it and I think was proud that I, his son, put it there.  He was Ryantown and I am Ryantown and my shop is called Ryantown.”

rob ryan i miss being a small girl lasercut

Rob Ryan – I Miss Being a Small Girl Lasercut

Rob Ryan Collection

Rob tells me about his work – “It’s stories in pictures sometimes with words, sometimes without.  It kind of feels positive-ish.  It’s defined by emotion and how I feel.”  Rob does focus a lot on the subject of ‘love’ because as he says – “After food, drink, clothing and shelter from the elements it’s that yearning for something that we can’t survive without.”

rob ryan made it with my own hands screen print

Rob Ryan – I Made it With my Own Hands Screenprint

Rob uses very large sheets of paper to create his works of art, he explains – “It’s about 70-80gsm and its very smooth.  Somebody told me once it was used a lot in the printing of Bibles but I don’t know if that’s true.  I use a Swann Morton 10A blade and a certain type of retractable pencil that I sharpen on fine-grade sandpaper.  I also use a rubber, a lot!  Because my work sometimes has an overtly decorative quality, I like to balance this by keeping the colour simple and bold.  I keep the feeling simple too, uplifting and inspiring – a complex and intricate ode to simplicity.”

rob ryan mugs

Rob Ryan – Ceramic Mugs

Rob is keen to make his work accessible – “Alongside creating art, I like designing new products for my shop.  I want people who like my work to be able to have a decent slice of it if even if they haven’t got a big budget.  Rather than spending a lot of money on a print, you can get something cheaper which is still handmade straight from my studio.”

rob ryan decorative wall tiles

Rob Ryan – Decorative Wall Tiles

Inspiration comes in many forms for Rob – “A lot of things that surround me invigorate me in the same way that I would like my work to invigorate others.  These things might be a painting or a sculpture or a hat, or even a sandwich!  Be inspired by what you believe is the best in order for you to create the best yourself!  It’s not really WHAT you see but HOW you see it.  For example, we could spend a whole day together walking around London and both see the same things but the meaning and importance of these things would be totally different to each of us.”

rob ryan plates

Rob Ryan – Ceramic Plate

Rob tells me about the creative people he admires which all just happen to make you laugh– “Surely that’s got to be the greatest art form of all.  Mel Brooks is a creative comic genius and legend.  I’m just beginning to realise how incredible Gene Wilder was.  Chris Rock is always amazing and then there’s Larry David who is my guru, anything he says or does is okay with me.”

Buy Rob Ryan Products

If you love Rob’s work you can purchase from his website at Rob Ryan Studio.  To give you an idea about prices – Screenprints are priced £120-2000, Lasercuts £55-264 and Greeting Cards are £12 for a pack of 4.

Author: Homegirl London.  Photography: Rob Ryan / Ryantown.  Thanks: Rob Ryan and Liberty Wright.