Thursday, August 23, 2007

Artist Profile: Ryan Mauskopf

Ryan Mauskopf known as RYE-BREAD to those who frequent his deviantART gallery is a young man with lots of potential. Hailing from New York City with plans to attend the School of Visual Arts in the fall, this 18 year old has work that seems influenced by graphic art, with some clean looking look work and great attention to detail. He was also recently featured in the latest Tokyopop Rising Stars of Manga compilation and is currently working on a project for them.

Could you give a brief bio about yourself and anything else that may be interesting?

I'm a tiny person, short and skinny. I love muffins and tea and I wish breakfast could be every meal of the day. New York City is honestly the greatest city on earth, and I can't imagine living anywhere else. I think long hair on guys is really sexy. I also think guys are really sexy ^_^

How long have you been drawing?

Pretty much since my days in the womb, I vaguely remember doodling on my mom's belly.

What are your reasons for pursuing art as a career?

I love to tell stories. The artistic field is one of the few creative fields that offer the opportunity to instill chilling awe and breathtaking beauty in its admirers, and I think it's appreciation like that which keeps my pencil moving.

Who are your main influences?

I suppose I should list them because there are so many:

1. Hayao Miyazaki: His films are legendary, and their whimsical charm is unparalleled in the animation world.

2. Shirow Masamune: What can I say, I love anything cyberpunk. However, Shirow Masamune took it all to the next level by not only including breathtakingly detailed artwork and realistic characters, but also technically complicated storylines that manage to analyze the very meaning of human existence itself. That’s pretty impressive for a comic book, huh?

3. Monkey Punch: Wow. He's probably clinically insane, which is what makes his fluid ink lines flow and his stories rush towards their dark and witty destinations. I'll read or watch anything that's got Lupin in the title.

4. The online artistic community is particularly inspiring. sThe young creativity out there today is so impressive that the old Masters would be put to shame.

How would you describe your own style?

That's really quite difficult, because I have so many. I think a style is something that should be malleable: If you can bend it and shape it and condition it to fit the mood of your drawing, the emotional impact of your work will be equally as prominent as your visuals. The spectrum of my artistic signature will stray from photorealism to stylized realism to cute and cuddly, so at this point it's difficult to define. I will say, though, that despite the many facets of my style are influenced by contemporary Japanese anime and manga artists.

Can you describe your technical approach to creating a picture?

I work completely digitally. I use a Wacom Intuos 2 tablet on a 24-inch iMac to create my art. The key to drawing, I've always said, is to work in iterations. Even if you have a grandiose vision it's important to start simple and keep refining the drawing until you're satisfied. I'll start with a simple sketch in Photoshop at an extremely low opacity and larger brush so as force myself not to concentrate on the details. Then, I simply keep drawing revisions on newer layers with exponentially higher opacities and larger brushes, adding more nuances and details and adjustments until I'm finally satisfied. Then, I delete the lower layers on which I've drawn the previous versions, leaving only the final drawing. And this is only the sketching phase *haha*. The final drawing stages come when I import my sketch into Painter and use realistically-styled mediums to finalize the piece. I take advantage of zooming in a lot and working impossibly small because it's detailing like that which can only be done on a computer.

What programs do you primarily use?

I use Photoshop CS3 for sketching and texture work. Then, for linework and anything that's going to be seen in the final image, I use vCorel Painter X. I'll often work with Maya 8 for complicated 3D work such as cars and backgrounds and machinery and robots. I love robots. I render my 3D models with a vector renderer to define the preliminary linework and then trace over it with a charcoal brush in Painter to give it a hand-drawn look. The process is very time-consuming but it's accurate and can end up looking damn good.

What traditional media do you like to work with?

I don't usually work this way, but when I do it's just a simple pencil. I love how easy it is to get line variations, and there so many nuances in the way you can handle a pencil that using one can be such an exhilarating artistic pleasure.

Describe your work environment.

Here's a photo:

1) 24-inch Apple iMac
2) Wacom Intuos 2 9x12 Tablet
3) Epson Perfection 4180 Photo Scanner
4) iPod Video (White, 30Gig)
5) iPod Nano (Blue, 4Gig)
6) TV Shows, Movies, & Anime DVD's
7) Artbooks, Manga, & Storyboard Books
8) HP OfficeJet 5610xi Copier/Faxer/Scanner/Printer
9) Crappy Verizon Phone
10) 3 Years of NewType Magazine Issues
11) Anime/Classical/Soundtrack CD's

And, of course, there's music. I couldn't ever draw anything without my oddly mismatched tastes in Classical, Jazz, Alternative Rock, Old-School Pop, Indie, and Hilary Duff.

Anytime you're facing an art block, how do you get yourself drawing again?

Watch a movie or look at an art book. Inspiration is the best thing to pull you out of a block.

Do you think there's a divide between those who do digital art and those who work primarily with traditional media?

Unfortunately, yes. I know a lot of traditional artists who frown upon digital creation because they believe that the computer somehow draws for you. This, obviously, is not true, and the large communities of those who scorn the computer are usually those who have not yet tried working on them. The truth is the computer is simply an extension of your abilities, equally as much as a brush and paint are. I say if something allows you to accomplish something faster and better (but not necessarily with more ease), why not embrace it? If the nay-saying traditional artists had their way, we'd still be drawing on cave walls by the firelight.

What are your future aspirations?

I'd love to be a comic book artist, as it's one of those rare professions in the art world that allow you complete creative freedom. This could change, though, because there are so many opportunities for artists out there that something amazing just may come up out of the blue. Who knows? I will say, though, that I'd never like to be an art teacher, for two reasons: 1) because I find more satisfaction in giving my art to the world rather than in wasting time explaining how it was created, and 2) because I can't deal with gaggles of hyper children. Trust me, I've tried in the past and it's just torture. I give kudos to those who do, though, because they're true warriors.

Could you talk more about your participation in the Tokyopop Rising Stars 7 book?

Anyway, there's really not much to say about my participation in RSoM other than how sick (literally, I became ill) it made me to work on something so ambitious in such a short period of time. Because of procrastination, I really only had three weeks to work on the story from start to finish, and thusly I barely slept. I wrote my script, storyboarded each page, and then drew each panel in Photoshop with heavy integration with Maya for all the 3D elements I had to incorporate into the story. That meant tracing over panel after panel of vector-rendered robots, helmets, guns, and backgrounds in excruciating detail. It was all worth it, though, even if I did work myself to sickness. I'm so glad I got voted into the RSoM book by fans, because if it weren't for them my work would have been all for nothing really. I owe a lot to them, because RSoM has opened a lot of doors for me, especially with TOKYOPOP, and hopefully my upcoming projects will hit the store shelves sometime later this year. :]

What interests do you have besides drawing?

I love making music. As unusual as it may sound, I'm an accomplished Mallet Percussionist (a xylophonist, in laymen's terms) and I'm just now beginning my transition into the world of the piano. You can watch one of my short performances here. It's just something I'm really passionate about, and there's a real kind of satisfaction I get from making music, much like the kind of thrill one gets from making art.

Give a list of your 5 top favorite bands.
Muse, Lemon Jelly, Sigur Ros, The Click Five (their old stuff), and The Seatbelts. Also, I know he's not a band, but anything by George Gershwin is pretty kickass too.

If you could meet anyone real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

President Bush. I'd really like to kick him in the shin.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?

Be inspired. Always keep your eyes open and your stylus moving. :]

To see more work by Ryan visit his deviantART gallery.

You can also email him at mousekopf[at]

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