By MIKE CHAIKEN
While some artists will paint on canvas, maybe parchment, artist Tom Ryan has taken a different tack.
The Naugatuck resident, who has been a frequent presence on the Bristol arts scene, uses skateboards as his medium of choice. (See an example at left.)
The selection of this unconventional medium was accidental, in the true meaning of the word, said Ryan.
“My brother left one (a skateboard) at the house, and I tripped over it.”
“And (I) thought, hey, that might be cool to paint on, so I took the trucks off, sanded the board down and went to town with spray paint and acrylic. I had so much fun painting on it I soon went out and bought more and more boards,” said Ryan.
“The first few I purchased were cheap Walmart ones. When I found a couple of local skate shops, none of them would give me a bulk discount. But some suggested Ebay and that’s now where I get my blanks.
Although Ryan is neckdeep in skateboard art these days, he said he never was a skateboarder when he was young.
“I have a hard enough time just standing up, let alone putting wheels under me,” said Ryan.
“But I did hang out with a lot of kids who did ride back when I was younger. I always liked the style and the art that was always on the boards and clothing,” the artist continued.
As for the type of art that shapes his work on his skateboard, Ryan explained, “I was hugely into comic books, and to this day they still do inspire me and influence my work, especially when it comes to inking. Aside from comic books, street art, graphic design, and poster art all influence my work.”
The challenge of working with skateboard isn’t what one would think… the narrow shape of the “canvas.”
“The challenge is not so much the shape, I love the shape of it,” said Ryan. “The challenge comes from two parts. A) sanding the boards down to the natural wood, and B) breaking that wall of letting people see that the boards are not just skateboards but pieces of fine art. I mean they look great up on the wall and are truly unique because of the shape.”
Although he does have set designs that he prepares, most of his work is one-of-a-kind. He also does custom work on commission.
Ryan has an extensive resume of showing his work, having presented at venues across the country. His pieces also have found their way into plenty of homes across the country and the globe through his Etsy shop.
And if you’re interested in buying Ryan’s artwork, he said, “I attend alot of art fairs when the weather is nice and throughout the year I sell through my Etsy Shop: etsy.com/shop/tomryansstudio, I currently have a sale going on now, if you visit my Facebook page: facebook.com/tomryansstudio you’ll find the coupon code to receive 15 percent off your orders now through Dec. 19.”