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Meet Ryan Whiteley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Whiteley.

Ryan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Drawing has always been there for me. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t doodling in a sketchbook or in the margins of my school assignments. It was always just something I did. I didn’t realize till much later than I should have that people actually get paid to draw.

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and spent most of my childhood in Raleigh, North Carolina. It wasn’t the most creative or artistic community but I had plenty of time to doodle. After taking literally every art class I could at my high school, I decided art college was the next logical move and spent four years at SCAD studying illustration. My interests in illustration have swayed since, but it gave me the opportunity to figure out what was possible with the profession and what I wanted to do with it.

After art school, I came out to LA to wheel and deal my skills to the highest bidder… That’s the idea at least. It’s been a little over two years since I moved here and I’ve been fortunate enough to stay busy with exciting projects and inspiring people.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think a lot of the struggles I’ve faced end up being very internal. I’ve had to (and still am) learning to get out of my own way. When I think about the obstacles I’ve faced, they ultimately come down to my own insecurities and decisions. There are always going to be fears of not being good enough or having imposter syndrome, or job security, or confidence in your own decisions. At the rate things are going, that list is just going to grow. It’s a constant struggle, but a necessary one, because I wouldn’t be growing as an artist or a person without a bit of internal conflict.

Please tell us more about your art.
First and foremost, I’m an Illustrator. I specialize in character design for animated productions but I’ve been branching out more as of late. I’ve been a part of music video productions for Brockhampton and Katy Perry, Advertising Campaigns, and short films.

I think my ability to work in whatever style is required for a certain production is one of my greatest strengths. Of course, I have a preference in style for my own work, but most professional projects are going to have some sort of art direction that I’ll need to match.

As of late, I’m most proud of a new series I started on Instagram called “Shidizen.” I take humorous alerts from the safety app “Citizen” and illustrate my own take on the description. It’s been an exciting project to explore on the side of my daily freelance work.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
LA is a great incubator for creativity. You’re constantly surrounded by creative industries and opportunities. However, it’s all too easy to get discouraged in a city like this. Even for those finding success, it can be a polarizing place. I think there are a lot of expectations in this city and everyone will react to those expectations differently.

More importantly, at the beginning of 2020 I would have told anyone to just move out here if they were interested. But as we’ve seen from this year, I think location is quickly becoming less and less important.

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Image Credit:

All works by Ryan Whiteley

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