AS220 is excited to announce a Q+A with AS220 Resident and Mixed-Media Printmaker Ryan Dean. Ryan Dean also recently submitted new artwork into the AS220 Flat-File Project which can be found at the AS220 Project Space Gallery (93 Mathewson St) and on our Arts and Editions Online Shop.
1. What inspired you to make bilingual playing cards?
The short answer is that I want to bring people together. The long version of my story is that from 2010 to 2014, I spent my summers in Istanbul working with a creative bunch of people at an English language program for Turkish youth. It was pure magic seeing how much the kids learned while having fun and using their imaginations. Personally, I grew a ton in that experience but I was also halting some momentum in my creative practice by relocating twice a year. So after five summers working in Istanbul, I decided to resettle back in Rhode Island and combine both of these worlds. My creative practice is centered around printmaking and I had endless resources available to me at the AS220 Industries; so the question was, how do I use this knowledge of print in a way that facilitates language learning through fun, interactive experiences? In an search for an answer, I started re-designing classic card games, making them bilingual. It’s my attempt to create something that will plant a seed for tolerance and openness in people of all ages.
2. What is your favorite thing about printmaking?
The thing that appeals to me most about printmaking is the idea of the multiple. While it may seem like a simple concept, it has a big impact on the way society engages art. Many other traditional artistic processes require an artist’s time and energy to produce a single artwork at a time; as a result, we often view those as very precious and more expensive, making them less accessible. The nature of printmaking allows for the creation of an image or a message that is produced in multiples, allowing many more people access to them, even if they are refined enough for a gallery or museum. Some of my favorite prints, though, are the ones I’ve swapped with friends or seen posted up around town!
3. You have a small business creating and selling printed goods. Can you tell us about your business? And what the future for your business looks like?
My business is named LUMUKU, an acronym my former boss in Turkey would use as a fun way to sign off on emails to the staff, especially while we were all separated on the off-season. It stood for LoveYou MissYou KissYou and was adopted by a lot of us in the program too.I decided to name my business LUMUKU as an homage to all of those incredible people I worked with in Istanbul over the years. As far as the nuts and bolts of the business go, I have been learning a lot along the way and I’m lucky to have such an awesome community here to support that learning.I’m hopeful for the future and I have plenty of ideas, but I plan on continuing to focus on educational games that bring people together and don’t rely on technology.
4. As of right now, you are based in PVD. Can you tell me what your experiences are in the PVD creative scene and how these experiences may have affected you and/or your artwork?
I love Providence and I am so grateful to be part of a creative community that isn’t cut-throat. It’d be impossible to recount the many experiences in which people were willing to teach a skill, give feedback or advice, and pass along an opportunity. I feel that it’s fundamental to our creative community here in PVD and I’m always happy to keep it going. I have become friends with makers I really look up to and I have gained mentors through casual conversations. All of this has helped me become a better maker from a technical standpoint and also feel a sense of belonging to this city.
5. What does “Art” mean to you?
That’s a tough question! I guess art is all forms of creative human expression. I’ll get back to you if I ever feel I can really put my finger on it…
Check out Ryan Dean’s website here.