SAVING PRIVATE RYAN
Hobson sees painting as exorcism, soothing his subconscious
by Maria Raposo
KOD artist, Ryan Hobson creates dark portraits of his subconscious. Like surreal scenes from absurd horror films, his paintings provide a stark contrast to his day job as an illustrator of children’s books. We had a chat with Ryan about how his struggles with addiction have affected his work and what he thinks of Tracey Emin:
KOD: Hi Ryan. What’s going on in Seattle?
Ryan Hobson: This coming weekend is the Capital Hill Block Party - about 70 bands play and fortunately/unfortunately it happens directly below my window for 3 days solid.
KOD: Does music help you work?
Ryan Hobson: I HAVE to have music playing. I'm an obscurist and an ex record collecting geek. I prefer experimental/ ambient and left-field stuff from the late 70's/ early 80's (my formative years).
KOD: Any artists you would recommend?
Ryan Hobson: ESG, Cabaret Voltaire and A Certain Ratio.
KOD: So if you would describe your music taste as obscurist, how would you describe your art?
Ryan Hobson: Well it depends. I make my living as a book illustrator and designer (mostly children’s). I would call that work "utilitarian" since it's serving a purpose.
KOD: What about your paintings?
Ryan Hobson: My personal work is definitely not trying to please anyone. There's no client. It's mine and strictly a private matter. I've battled addiction since I was 8yrs old. So I find that my paintings tend to chronicle my life. Almost like a diary of sorts. They are an exorcism for sure.
KOD: Do you mind me asking what kind of addiction you've been dealing with?
Ryan Hobson: Mostly heroin, crack and Xanax. I'm a late stage addict. I am in recovery.
KOD: How does art help you with these issues?
Ryan Hobson: I have to let myself work stuff out on a subconscious level, like therapy almost. I don't get the "therapy" from drawing astronauts for a kid's book like I do when I am painting what's in my subconscious.
KOD: It must be refreshing to have a creative outlet is that is so free compared to your client work.
Ryan Hobson: It is refreshing but also very necessary. I've had a hard time showing my work to people because it is so personal to me. But it's easy to post art on the internet and forget its there. I've never had a proper gallery show. I feel like it would make me too vulnerable.
I've always felt the need to express myself through painting that doesn't pander to an audience. I'm hugely grateful to be a painter. It's an honor. People say "painting is dead" but f*ck that! Excuse my language.
KOD: How do you feel about conceptual art?
Ryan Hobson: Ah, well, it's a young man's game. I like art as an object. I have a real affinity for painting. Things like Tracy Emin's tent took me a while to understand and learn to appreciate. I think a lot of it is shit passing as "art". I understand that art has to evolve but I think a lot of artists have become lazy.
KOD: It’s interesting that you bring up Tracey Emin as she is someone else who has described her art as “therapy”.
Ryan Hobson: Huh. I think most artists create as a form of therapy so I'm not original in that sentiment. Neither is Tracey.
KOD: You’ve got an impressive internet presence. Why is it important for artists to be online?
Ryan Hobson: I think if anyone wants to get work or make a living as an artist the internet can be HUGELY important. It's made things so much easier to reach a wider audience. I got quite a bit of exposure in 2008 for an art piece/game that I showed at a local gallery. I ended up doing TV and radio interviews all over the world for that. Technology is pretty amazing!!