The drive to create is inherent in the human condition—from the two year old with a box of crayons and an empty wall to the teenager surreptitiously engraving his favorite band logo on his desk in algebra. With more than 250 million submissions, DeviantArt, an online community started in 2001, has become the walls of the public living room that the Millenials and Generantion X hangs their art on.
Ryan McDougal, whose work can be found on DeviantArt, is an artist driven to create in a way natural for his time. The stencil, one of the oldest forms of art, as evidenced by hand prints blown over with pigment in the Cave of Altamira 40,000 years ago, is his medium. His bold punk images with slogans spur a visceral reaction and immediacy, while the outcast and rebellious attitude effervesce from the flat spray paint, this is art created by the artist not because he wants to, but because has to.
How long have you been up on the DeviantArt?
Ryan McDougal: I’ve been on there about three or four years.
How has that experience been?
RM: You know it started out it really good. It was kind of hard to get people to notice some of my different artwork, but when I started to join the groups, I started getting more attention.
What is the ultimate overall goal for most people on the site?
Ryan: I don’t know if it is necessarily to sell art. I know that DeviantArt offers to turn your art work into prints. I think people can buy it. I don’t know if that’s DeviantArt’s main focus or not; or if it’s just to get exposure. I call it like Facebook for artists.
So it’s just to have a spot on the Internet for your work?
Ryan: Yeah, to connect with other artists and view other people’s artwork and get your artwork viewed.
Is all of your work stencils?
Ryan: I call it stencil style, but I don’t really use traditional methods. Most people use spray paint and cut them. I just hand draw mine, and then lately I’ve been scanning them into the computer after I draw them and adding colors on my computer.
These all made on the computer then?
Ryan: Not all of them. Some of the more recent ones are. The first ones that I put on DeviantArt are just ones that I did. Some of them I did with a sharpie marker, a black marker. From there I moved to acryllic paint. Then when I found a good paint program that I could use on my computer which was just easier and faster. You have an endless amount of color that you can choose from. So that is what I’ve been doing lately.
Personally I think the ones I do on the computer look a little more polished…a little more professional looking, I guess is the word I would use.
I like are the straight edge one, the guy with the blue mohawk set against a sun background. And that’s all done at the computer?
RM: No. Initially I’d just do it the old fashioned way. I’d hand draw it on paper with pencil. Once I get the pencil lines drawn then I scan it on the computer and then add the color using a computer program.
Oh, I see. So you hand draw it on a piece of paper, it gets scanned, and then you add the color. And now the finished project is on the computer.
Ryan: Yeah, correct.
Have you ever tried putting any of these on canvases?
Ryan: Before I started doing them on computer, I did some on just regular canvas paper, and I would use just acryllic paint. I’ve done a few like that, and those are okay. I like the way they look, but it takes a long time to do those for some reason.
What images do you have up on DeviantArt that you like the best?
Ryan: To tell you the truth, I really like the ones that I’ve been doing lately. I did the one I call “Purple Haze” — it’s a picture of a female, she’s wearing a bandana across her mouth. I really like that one.
Yeah these are ones that I am drawn to. I like that one, the “Rise Up”, the “Straight Edge,”the “Resist”. Those are probably my three favorites. I think the ones with the words in them or slogan, it sort of ties it together thematically. They all look like part of a series.
Ryan: Yeah, I’ve been doing that lately. Trying to add some words—be it slogans or something like that.
Rawckus: I like “Ramona” too- the one with the green hair.
Ryan: I initially did that one with paint. Then after I scanned it into the computer, I redid the colors using the program on the computer to see what it would look like. So there are two versions of that one.
So what is in the future for you art wise?
Ryan: Ultimately, it would be great to do art full time, but that is so, so tough. It’s such a competitive field. With me I just have to do it in my spare time because I have regular job. Sometimes it’s hard to find that time to sit down every day and really, really practice and get good at it. But I’m making do.