You Weren’t Chosen for a Reason: Art by Ryan Graham

You Weren't Chosen in the World Art by Ryan Graham,
Edited by Liam Kennedy
Here are some points from
a conversation I had with Ryan Graham:

I work with simple ideas, I usually take something I was into as a kid and blend it with something I’m into as an adult. Sometimes they are obviously parallel to each other, like a drawing I did of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fighting the Rankor from Star Wars. She’s posed just like Luke Skywalker, holding a bone, and at first glance you’d think it was just a drawing of that scene from Return of the Jedi, but if you look closer you can see who she is. That idea came to me as a consideration about the dynamics of the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, that girl is up against all kinds of monsters. So, I drew the parallel between the two movies, one from childhood, one from adulthood. The Muppet drawing is a scene from the movie Knocked Up. I saw the similarities between Seth Rogen and Fozzy Bear, and then realized I could make each of the actors from that scene into different Muppets. What’s cool about it is Jason Segel, Kermit in the drawing, is in the new Muppet movie.

You Weren’t Chosen for a Reason
In Blume

I prefer more subtle comparisons to ones that are more obvious. More recently I was considering how to make a drawing of Ryan Gosling from Drive, specifically him with the hammer from that movie. I considered who had a hammer and thought about Donkey Kong with the giant cartoon mallet. That got me thinking about them in a showdown, Gosling with the hammer, Donkey Kong with the mallet. Then I decided it’d be better to draw Donkey Kong as Ryan Gosling’s character from Drive and went ahead with that. I ditch a lot of ideas that I don’t think are clever enough though.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of using cultural references to explore someone in popular culture I’m kind of fascinated by. Within the past couple years I’ve been focused on actors that, either purposely or not, cultivate a mystique. First it was Joaquin Phoenix right at the beginning of that period where he grew the beard and started acting weird and nobody knew what was up with him, like maybe he had actually lost it. I drew so many Joaquin Phoenixes. Then it was James Franco, who seemed to be unstoppable, being in huge movies, making web videos, teaching a class, hosting the Oscars, publishing a short fiction book, etc. I think everyone was like “who is this guy?”. To highlight the mystery, I wrote his name out in the style of the poster for the movie Caché, which is just the word on a white background with a blood splatter across it.

In Blume

 I don’t do faces as much anymore, and feel like my skill has decreased a little. I used to just draw faces for practice. Robert Downey Jr. from Tropic Thunder I chose for practice, first because I love that movie, but also because I had done both black dudes and white dudes, but never a white dude posing as a black dude. I’d like to think that when you look at it, you’re not sure if it’s a black dude or a white dude, then slowly realize who it is.

With the Jeff Goldblum drawing, I wanted to make Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park as iconic an image as Che Guevara. That face is so iconic you can basically wear your political beliefs and everyone knows what it means. I wanted to be able to wear Ian Malcolm’s face as a T-Shirt or a button and have it express my beliefs, to be able to say that that character’s beliefs coincide with my own.

Probably my favourite thing, when I finish drawing, is to return to it and realize something I wasn’t aware of before. For instance, I had an idea to build a robot with a rotating head, a glowing heart, and David Bowie’s hands from the album cover of Changes. I went ahead a made it, and so many people who saw it remarked how sad it looked. To me, the idea didn’t come from a sad place, so I was kind of confused. It’s only when I look back on it that I realize my subconscious was somehow trying to communicate a realization I hadn’t even made yet, that I wasn’t happy in the relationship I was in at the time. Past art can show me what I was going through at the time I made it, even at a subconscious level.

Three Portmans

For pen drawings, the medium requires a lot of planning, and I take more time to plan drawings I want to make as I get older. I used to do everything freehand, and make a drawing out of impulse. Now I take a long time to consider what I want to do, but more importantly, how to execute it. I never make pencil sketches because they can change over time, when you come back to them they can be smudged. That means I have to sacrifice the flexibility that sketching can give you; the ability to make mistakes. For the most part, if I fuck up a drawing I scrap it and start over. That means I take a long time to consider how I’m going to follow through with an idea I have and what the final product will look like. Now and then I will come across problems I don’t expect and have to scrap something I’ve been working on that I really like. For instance, I never used to include fingers, because if you used the same line thickness to show the separation of fingers as the rest of the body it looks wrong. I learned that I need to use a finer point for that. That’s probably shit they tell you in art school.


About Kid-Scissor Hybrid

Online zine of technology + humanity with stories both real and fictional. Celebrating and fearing the inevitable!

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