Cool Kid Spotlight: Ryan Tate


Artist Statement:

My portrait paintings are beautiful, tragic, and intimately related to what it means to be alive in the twenty-first century. My psychological portraits are relevant expressions of our cultural makeup. From ambivalence about the role guns play in American society, to pervasive fear, and mental health, my paintings represent the concerns of our time and yet, these concerns feel timeless.

Tell us who you are.

 I love making art. I’ve made art my entire life and growing up in school, I was always considered the class artist.

What was the first thing you remember making?

I remember drawing monsters in Mrs. Canfield’s 1st grade art glass.


What inspires your current work?

Working in an art museum, I draw inspiration from all of the art world’s legends: Joan Mitchell, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Rauschenberg, etc. It’s fantastic!


What is your favorite part of your creative process?

 I don’t always enjoy the process of making art. Like most challenging things, there’s a lot of frustrating problem solving involved. But throughout a tough project I will find little pockets of victory that keep me going until the end.


How do you handle creative roadblocks?

I get a lot of creative roadblocks throughout the course of a painting, usually caused by fear of screwing up what I’ve already painted. When I find myself in this kind of situation, to move forward, I’ll sometimes intentionally screw up a less consequential area of the canvas; this frees me to continue working.


What have you learned about yourself as a maker?

 I’ve learned that I’m much better at improvising than I am with planning things out ahead of time. That’s probably why I’m so drawn towards the Abstract Expressionist movement. They were all about intuitive mark making.


What is your favorite project or piece to date?

 My favorite painting I’ve made so far is a portrait titled Familiar Weight. In it I wanted to create a badass Southern painting that explored themes of pride, tradition, and ambivalence towards guns in Southern culture. I posed my buddy Robert (who has that quintessential Southern look) with my grandfathers’ shotgun slung over his shoulder. I dedicated two hours a day for two months on that piece and I’m very proud of how it turned out.


Do you have any side projects?

I’m currently making a logo for Hawk Moth Brewery, soon to be opening in Rogers, AR. They make great beer.