Raking Light with Robert Ryan
Tattooer, painter and musician Robert Ryan recently added to his impressive resume with the publication of a five color lithograph print created in collaboration with Brooklyn-based Master Printer Deborah Chaney. Starting with a rough outline drawn by hand directly onto lithographic limestone, Robert and Deborah worked together to craft a price that manages to retain the best hand-made qualities of traditional printmaking while staying true to his creative perspective and style.
I recently had the chance to ask Robert for his thoughts on collaboration and printmaking, what it's like working in a brand new medium, and if his tattooer worldview informed the lithograph experience.
Q - How would you describe the experience working with the lithograph materials and overall lithograph creative process? Was it difficult to adjust to new / different materials?
A - It was more difficult to wrap my mind around the process then physically make the art. I still find it hard to believe anyone figured out this process for print making . I loved working on Stone . It was incredible. The texture is like no other . I was destroying the tips of the grease pens ! Your basically using the softest of tools on the absolute hardest of surfaces.
What elements of the print were created in the studio with the printer and which were able to be created at your studio?
All the artwork and shading were done at Deborah's studio . I did the color plates at my place. How much of the piece was planned out before starting and how much was improvised?
I came in with a composite sketch then everything after that was improvised . We didn't do any mock ups or color studies. once I had the image on the stone I just went for it. Was the lithograph process of working layer by layer to craft a single final print image difficult or easy to adapt to?
It's takes a little preproduction and foresight. But I didn't find it that difficult. That being said I only made the art. Deborah Chaney and her Assistant really did the hard work. That printing process is so complicated and unforgiving, that's why it's so rare. It was awesome to see how much of a Lithograph Devotee Deborah is. She is true to her craft. She wants to make real Lithography .
Did your tattoo background help or influence your work with the lithograph medium? If so, can you give an example or two?
Yes it helped a lot . First off breaking things down color by color is something I do every day while tattooing so that was a blessing .I also paid a lot attention to Ed Hardy's Lithograph process. He is one of the few tattooers to tackle Lithography and I felt his approach was a wonderful mesh of traditional tattooing and Fine art print making. When can we expect to see the next lithograph print from you?
I hope later this year . I'm really looking forward to get back on the stone! The untitled piece is a single edition of 30 and was recently published by Raking Light Projects. It is available for purchase on the RakingLightProjects.com website.