Blink Interviews: Rob Ryan

In our opinion, Rob Ryan is one of the most romantic, creative and innovative artists working in London today. An additional joy is that Ryan’s work is so accessible via the broad product choice in his super cool store, Ryantown, on Columbia Road.
Robert Ryan was born in Akrotiri, Cyprus in 1962. He studied Fine Art at Trent Poly between 1981 and 1984 and then printmaking at the RCA from 1984 until 1987. Two years ago in July he opened Ryantown and his studio is located nearby.
We were really delighted and not a little honoured when Rob agreed take some time out from his hectic schedule to be interviewed for the “Blink” blog. Thanks very much Rob! Thanks also to Hazel for helping us to make this happen.

For you, what is the most important aspect of being an artist?
If it has to provide for you and your family, you have to get that aspect right. I’ve only recently been making a living from making art.
Its also really important to make an environment that you can be free to create in. It takes a lot of time, energy and commitment.
I’m now in the position of needing to make choices between jobs and what I decide to take on. Do I want to do anything at all or just work on my own projects? It’s a wonderful place to be but a bit scary. Although actually, I’m as happy now as when I’d just left college working as a cycle courier and being creative when I could. It’s the doing that is the excitement for me.

Which comes first for you, the text in your work or the imagery?
Either or both. Sometime one or the other, sometimes together. I constantly jot in notebooks and then piece it all together. The words incorporated in my work are kind of verbal doodles for me.

Do you think that ethical and sustainable issues are at all relevant to what you do?
In the creation of the work, absolutely. Recently we produced a printed silk scarf in India. We collaborated with NV London Calcutta to ensure that this was ethically created and that the workers were all well paid.

What project are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
We are working on two exhibitions, the first one, called ‘The Stars Shine All Day Too’, opens today, so its been heads down while we’ve been getting ready for the launch. This show is in London at the Air Gallery on Dover Street and will be about new work mainly. The second show is in Stafford and opens on November 12th. It will be a mixture of new and old, almost as an introduction to my work.
This will be followed by a well-earned break and then it’s back to creating Christmas shop stock.
After that I’ll be working on a new book for next September. It’s a children’s story written and illustrated by me. It’s bigger than a classic picture book with lots more in it.

What or who are your longest standing influences?
I’ve always been influenced by painting and fine art. Titian is the greatest painter ever, also Raphael and Donatello. I love Italian painting. I am a long-standing fan of German painting too. I’m massively into the Romantics like Mensel, Schinkel, Friedrich. It’s their solitary viewpoint, a thoughtfulness, something deeply introspective and a unique approach to landscapes.

How would you describe the Rob Ryan aesthetic?
Homespun, whatever I feel like doing that morning- whether it’s on to a plate or T shirt or an intricate paper-cut. It is what it is…

What is currently tempting you into making a purchase for you, your home or your studio?
We need to buy a new screen-printing surface, which is quite an investment. For me I’d really like a scooter. An orange Vespa ready to be covered in stickers would be perfect- its all about the colour more than anything.

Has your career developed in the way that you expected it to?
Yes and no. I didn’t think I’d be working as part of a team. I thought I would always be trying to do my own work, but didn’t expect it to become a company, with people helping me. I didn’t think of success, just of doing the work. I really expected to be self sufficient I suppose.

Who would you like to collaborate with, past or present?
People tend to come to me to discuss collaborations, rather than the other way around. If I could, I would really like to work with Tim Walker. He’s got a poets eye and I like that.

When do you feel most creative?
Mostly it’s just before going to bed. I keep a sketchbook by the bed. If I have a thought I jot it down. That inevitably leads to more thoughts and then I’m wide awake again so it’s a little counterproductive!

We’ll be heading to the London exhibition and we think you all should too. What a great opportunity to see some amazing new work from this wonderful artist. Thanks again to Rob and his team. We wish you huge success in both exhibitions and we can’t wait to see how the children’s book turns out!

Robert Ryan. This portrait was commissioned for a piece in 'Crafts' magazine

For more inspirational interviews, just click here.

Friday Fun: Pop in to the Pop Up at Liberty

We were doing the usual retail rounds when we spotted this Roger la Borde pop up shop within the beautious Liberty store, in situ until 18th October.

This shop within shop is in celebration of this innovative publishing company’s 25th birthday. We first noticed Roger la Borde cards when they started producing delightful mini versions of Rob Ryan‘s work (a Blink favourite, in case you didn’t know). Alongside the cards by Rob Ryan there is work by  Elise Hurst, Aya Kakeda and Su Blackwell. There’s some stunning original artwork for sale too- the Rob Ryan one is from a limited edition of just 10.

To add to the celebrations Roger la Borde has launched its first ever collection of homewares, including bone china teapots, mugs, aprons, tea towels and notebooks, all featuring Victoriana inspired illustrations like the strongman clad in a flowery apron that we spotted on the window of Liberty.

Hmm, its got me thinking about Christmas gifts already…

Roger la Borde at Liberty

Graphics: XOXO

‘XOXO’ in the immortal words of Gossip Girl. Sorry, but we couldn’t resist and it does seem the perfect way to introduce this selection of inspiration that we have lifted from our recent quarterly “Graphics” report. Its all about love related imagery, from variations on a simple heart to lipstick coated, kissable lips. We’re all about sharing the love so we wanted to share this inspiration with you. Enjoy!

Click here for more “Graphics” inspiration. If you’d like to see the full Summer “Graphics” report why not contact your nearest agent?

Alberta Ferretti

Rob Ryan at 'Pick Me Up'

Miss Sixty

Le Gun at 'Pick Me Up'


Mr Bingo at 'Pick Me Up'

Blink Inspiration: Pick me up!

Its all about Somerset House this week… again! We do go other places you know, but there is always an extra special little smile when we know there’s an excuse to hang out here.

So the excuse this time was ‘Pick Me Up’, the first British contemporary graphic art fair. The perfect combination of inspiration, culture and shopping! Get down there before this event ends on 3rd April. Every piece on show was for sale, and some of the artwork was specifically commissioned to be exhibited and sold exclusively at this show. The organizers invited a selection of established and up and coming graphic talents to showcase their work. Alongside the simply presented pieces, there are also ‘work in progress’ areas where you can see the artists creating work, and even get involved yourself!

One of  Blink’s favourites, Rob Ryan, has relocated his East London studio and team to the event. The studio is really inspirational with a huge, wrap around ‘ideas in progress’ style pin-board, screen printing and signature paper cutting. Along the way from this an energetic collection of work from Print Club London, screen printing limited edition posters right before your eyes. This collective was set up in 2007 to provide accessible screen printing facilities to young illustrators and designers so that they could produce brilliantly creative posters, T shirts, record covers, flyers…

These pictures, and many more inspirational images, will be featured in the Summer edition of the quarterly ‘Graphics’ report. Contact your nearest agent if you’d like to know more.

Rob Ryan's team at work

A close up from Rob Ryan's mood board

Rob Ryan's team at work

Felt Mistress andd Nobrow

Print Club London

Colour Palettes- More Monochrome

Yes, we know we’ve told you about this already, but it really does deserve a second outing. Super simple black and white is the chic, yet commercial, colour palette of choice. This collection of images was really sparked off by our visit to the Rob Ryan store on Columbia Road. Perhaps you spotted out Twitter about it? The store was totally devoid of colour with all the product purely in black on white. It looked so fresh and very tempting. It inspired us to have a quick look at our recent reports to extract other beautifully monochrome looks. We hope that these inspire you to make some beautiful colour free products, graphics, displays or prints of your own…

Click here for more colour palettes.



Vintage Chanel, Paris

Vintage Chanel, Paris

Rob Ryan's Ryantown

Rob Ryan's Ryantown

Bolongaro Trevor

Bolongaro Trevor

Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols

Brick Lane

Brick Lane

Rob Ryan's Ryantown

Rob Ryan's Ryantown