Ryan Trott is a creative insta force to be reckoned with. His daily doses of art and craft, usually but not always kid-inspired, are uplifting in a way that today’s capital ‘A’ art is mostly not. Absent is the pretense and irony, the self-obsession and dark ruminations of modern life. What remains is the spontaneous celebration of imagination and the joyous use of materials.
Lucky for us here at Pomelo, Ryan took the time to answer a few questions regarding his art practice, job as an educator, and his experiences with new Dadhood…
PM: I can’t even remember now how I found you on instagram, but I was really happy when I did. I know this is a nerdy question, but what are your thoughts on instagram? How important is it for your what you do?
RT: It’s really important to me to share the work I do with students outside the classroom… Instagram has been a fantastic way to connect with fellow educators, artists and cool people. It’s given me an opportunity to collaborate with people I never would have met, and to get our students’ artwork out there! I’ve gotten such great feedback from artists that I really respect, so much so that it’s made sharing a big part of my education practice. It gives me a chance to focus on projects or highlight forgotten drawings and give them this great platform to be shown alongside amazing art and photographs. Putting the students’ work and classroom stuff with inspirational book illustrations or my personal pictures gives my teaching and art some context, which is great. I think people really appreciate the freedom of the kids’ work, it’s really hard as an adult to be so open.
PM: Before you were an educator you were a practicing artist and musician living and working in Brooklyn. What made you decide to return to school? Did you find it difficult to switch from an open-ended studio practice to a more structured 9-5?
RT: I’ve really enjoyed the change, I was ready to move on from working in restaurants and retail and keeping crazy hours. I’m finding myself more motivated to make music and art now that I have a “real” job! I love it. My wife Amanda helped me find this idea of teaching art – she knew it would be an amazing fit for my personality and talents. I find myself so much more interested in writing projects for the kids, and seeing what they come up with than spending hours working on my own art. It’s really like I get to collaborate with all these amazing artists on a daily basis! I get to set everything up – with materials, ideas and themes – and let the students go wild with it.
I try to make work with my classes that is artistically valid, that gives them the opportunity to make art the way adult artists do – not just putting pieces together with an expected outcome. Every project has a degree of freedom that hopefully encourages students to find and express their own voice, even at such a young age (5-11.) Sometimes things don’t work but the experimental nature is what keeps it interesting! I hope my students recognize that they all have the potential to be artists and will continue to find creativity all around them.
PM: I thought it was great you took the initiative to make a book with your own artwork and some ideas for creative projects. Do you think you would do another book in the future?
RT: Yes! I’m definitely planning some more book projects. Doing the activity book was a really great way to explore the connection between my personal art and my teaching. I was hoping to make something that would work both as a art book or zine, and also as an instructional book for adults and children to experiment with the projects. I have some ideas for children’s books – with a narrative but probably focused on an early childhood shapes/colors/alphabet zone. I’m also excited to collaborate with my wife Amanda on some children’s book projects, as well as some more activity/education focused material.
PM: You are a new Dad (Congratulations!!), which is such a crazy mind-meld (for lack of a better description). Did you or do you struggle with adapting to this new role? Do you worry about balancing your home life with your working life?
RT: Being a father is amazing! It’s so exciting every day. It was hard going back to work, but I have the benefit of summer’s off and nice breaks. I can’t wait to share all the amazing children’s inspirations we’ve been gathering… books, art, toys.. but right now is so fun, just being together and enjoying simple times.
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us at Pomelo Magazine Ryan! (praying hands emoji)