With many creative inspirations in mind, Ryan Spence talks to RAW about his artwork. Be sure to RSVP to see his pieces live at the next Hollywood showcase at Cinespace on Thursday, August 5th!  

Tell us about yourself.
My family and I are originally from Jamaica and moved to the states when I was five years old. Both sides of my family have very talented artists going back a couple generations. My mom used to sketch cartoons and my dad can draw as well as an architect does, though he'd never admit it.

How did you first get started in art? 
I first started doing art when I was about six. I drew a lot of weird little short stories, bugs, plants, and eventually this somehow led to a Ninja Turtle-drawing obsession.

From where do you draw inspiration for your work?
The inspiration for my work comes from issues surrounding social justice, the environment, and personal relationships.

What do you love most about what you do? 
I love the fact that a viewer can see one of my pieces and leave thinking, 'I've never thought of it like that before.' Its cool to give people a different perspective on things from time to time.

Do you engage in, or draw inspiration from, any other forms of art ? 
Graffiti and Street Art is amazing. I believe that its the closest thing to modern-day cave paintings. Industrial or grey areas on congested urban landscapes are blank canvases asking the invisible to simply share the fact that they exist.

However, I'm not a fan of gang tagging. Though I do find their coded language ingenious, I don't like that gang tagging represents poverty divided. 

Medium of choice?
It all starts with pencil and paper. I love this medium because its very RAW. Pun intended.

Are there any artists or art movements, past or present, that strongly inform and influence your work? 
Strong influences in my work include: International Warning Logos, Airplane Safety Pamphlets, Political posters, Vintage/Retro packaging and advertisements. Artists whose work I dig: Aaron McGruder, David Choe, Sam Flores, Wak, Jeremy Fish.

Are there any specific reoccurring themes or subjects that you explore and deal with most in your work? 
Recurring themes in my art are (but not limited to): growth, obsession, childhood, love of self, the various African holocausts and diaspora ignored by history books, admiration/daydreaming of beautiful scenery,  freedom,  justice,  karma,  retaliation,  sarcasm, and hypocrisy.

Any previous exhibitions/collaborations that you are most proud of? 
I'm very proud of my solo show from 2007 : 'Renaissancevolution' and my participation in a group show called 'One is the Magic Number.'

Why showcase at RAW? 
Showcasing at RAW is major exposure for me and attaining a large audience is a goal of many artists.

Favorite thing to do outside of making art? 
I like to make beats and make music with  some of my favorite local vocalists/musicians.

Any current rising stars you recommend we look out for?
I'd have to say Azikiwe Andrews, Maya Santos, Janay Everett, Phloe Pontaoe, and Ardishir Tabrizi. It would be an honor to be in a group show with these folks one day.


To learn more about Ryan Spence and view his work, visit his Web site: www.planetlucid.com