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Chopping Block: Chris Ryniak

Exploring the world of the unknown is something that has always intrigued me since childhood. Seeing all the different characters and creatures in cartoons really made my imagination consider all the types of beings that could be out there. Whether they are in our galaxy or not, I do think there could be other creatures out there that we have yet to encounter! Thankfully, I'm not alone, as our artist for today, Chris Ryniak, has taken this idea and created amazing pieces. Chris is an artist that creates critters in every format, bound to leave your imagination nothing short of amazed. Speaking with Chris, we got a chance to see how he keeps his ideas so imaginative.

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POW: Your art displays a great sense of ingenuity and exploration into unknown creatures. What are some of your biggest influences? How do you keep your imagination so broad when adding to such a large body of work?

Chris: I'm lucky enough to have been born in the 1970's, so I was exposed to countless amazing creature-based movies, television shows and toys.  Star Wars, The Dark Crystal, Gremlins, Fraggle Rock, Krull, Dune, Inhumanoids, Boglins, Labyrinth and  Dragonslayer, just to name a few.  I tend to look back to all of that stuff a lot because of how it affected me when I was young, although I get the same kind of feelings when I see some of the stuff that Guillermo Del Toro has done.

Nature is a big influence on my creatures as well, which is a big help in adding variety to the characters.  There are SO many variations of plants, fish, birds, mammals and bugs on this planet, that just taking little bits from each of them really helps add something new.  I often just have something that I want to try - maybe it's as simple as a pose on a familiar character, or maybe it's a completely different body shape. It's fun to explore the possibilities.

POW: Tell us about your morning scribbles collection. I personally look forward to seeing the newest creature in my IG feed every morning.  What prompted you to begin the morning scribbles? How long have they been waking fellow Instagram followers in the morning?

Chris: I have been carrying a sketchbook since I was in grade school, but it wasn't until I was in college that I would fill them up on a regular basis.  I never really published the drawings online or social media until about my 20th sketchbook - before then, I would only show " finished" work.  At first I showed drawings from inside my sketchbooks on Instagram and I started getting a lot of requests from people wanting to buy them.  This prompted me to switch to loose paper, and since I was drawing every day anyway, I just decided to brand it and make it a habit!  Now I'm up to over 700 drawings, and it's pretty awesome to look back at that body of work.

chris ryniak morning scribbles Morning Scribbles by Chris Ryniak

POW: What has inspired you to transition from your early art career of mostly paintings to now mostly sculptures? Is this return to morning scribbles a sign of more paintings and doodlings to come? How does the creative process differ between 2D and 3D art and which would you say is more fun to create?

Chris: I tried my hand at being a "serious" artist in the beginning of my career.  All of my paintings were really introspective and sort of lacking in joy and fun, which is contrary to who I am as a person.  I just kept trying to make the work that I thought would get me taken seriously, which burned me out.  At a certain point I was asked to customize a designer vinyl toy for a show in Detroit.  I applied paint to the toy in the same manner I would approach a canvas, and got a lot of attention for that first figure, which in turn got me invited to more shows doing more toys.  As time went on, I started adding sculptural elements to the toys, sometimes until I had almost obscured the original figure entirely. From there I was offered a few opportunities to sculpt my own original figures for Vinyl and resin production figures...the rest is history.

I'm never going to stop drawing, and I think you will definitely see me go back to 2D a little more in the future.  I have a lot of things that I want to try still!

The process differs in that when I plan a 3D piece I am always thinking of how to make a mold of what I am sculpting, which makes me design things a little differently to work within my own casting limitations.  You can do anything in 2D, so long as at can be reproduced in print form, so there is a lot more freedom.

My drawings are the most fun thing for me to do, but I love sculpting!  It's funny that I never studied sculpture, or even really dabbled in it until I started with the toys.  I just kind of taught myself how to sculpt , and every year I'm expanding my knowledge of materials and techniques.  It's been a huge learning curve and I've made a TON of mistakes, but it's super fun.

chris ryniak springwingsSpringwings by Chris Ryniak

POW: You recently had a show at Stranger Factory in Albuquerque where all your pieces sold out!  Can you tell us more about the show? Are there more shows planned in the future?

Chris: "Safe Harbor" was my fourth two-person show at Stranger Factory with my girlfriend Amanda Louise Spayd.  It's also our fourth sold out show, which is super humbling!  We wanted to explore what kind of adaptations our characters would have if they existed in or near the sea.  We kind of had a set of underwater as well as above-water pieces.  I also created my largest and most complex  cast resin pieces to date for this show, which was a huge challenge and a great learning experience.

We just announced our fourth group show with Circus Posterus in Japan, scheduled for April 2016!

chris ryniak safe harbor sculpture
Safe Harbor by Chris Ryniak

POW: For your latest release with us, you’ve titled your work “Sparkle Pony Magic" which is a fantastic name by the way and we can't wait to release it printed on wood.  I honestly can't say it with out it putting a smile on my face.   Can you tell us more about this creature and how she got her name?

Chris: Sparkle Pony Magic is a hilarious anomaly that was inspired by a conversation I had with my 9 -year-old daughter.She was watching My Little Pony, and I asked if she liked that show. She said " Is it OK that I like that show?"  She was concerned that liking a girly show for little kids would tarnish her otherwise tough-tomboy persona.   I had to tell her what I want to tell EVERYONE:  It's okay to like everything that you want to like! It's okay to be a little of everything.

I wanted to make a character that would be an otherwise grotesque slug-monster if not for its luxurious mane.  Something that said that I was okay with making something that wasn't tough, or cool; something that wasn't afraid to be what it was: a magnificently weird and complicated creature, just like you and me.

chris ryniak sparkle pony magic

Sparkle Pony Magic by Chris Ryniak

POW: Despite all of your work being extremely detail-oriented, which one of your pieces would you say was the hardest to create and why?

Chris: I just finished a sculpture for my last show called the "Clawmper".  He is a big beefy crab what is made up of 9 different cast resin pieces.  Figuring out the engineering for that one was far beyond anything I had ever done, and I had no idea if it would work.  I'm  really proud of how it came out, and proud that I could figure out something so complex.  I look forward to the next challenge now!

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For more information on Chris Ryniak please visit: http://chrisryniak.blogspot.com/