‘Artists can change the whole world. I believe the world has seen this times over, especially while this pandemic rages on, that art (in all its different media) is at the core of all that we do. Without art, we are not human. Artists really have the power, and often we forget that.’
Ryan Pola is an artist based in Melbourne, Australia. He pursues explorations of nature and the human condition, frequently combining flora and fauna in his portraits. Ryan produces exquisitely detailed graphite drawings, predominantly black and white, with an occasional considered use of colour.
Do you prefer to work in silence or does certain music inspire you?
I absolutely hate drawing in silence. I get so bored! What I usually do is either listen to podcasts, binge series or movies, or go deep into YouTube black holes (currently I'm finding I'm most productive while watching people play video games on YouTube). That being said, I find a lot of inspiration in listening to music. I often have my most exciting ideas come to me while I'm running and listening to music.
Where is your current studio? What would be your dream studio?
My current studio is my bed. I spend most of my time sitting and drawing. I used to draw standing, but I find it much more comfortable to sit and draw (my crossed legs may not agree). My dream studio would be a small cabin tucked in among some large pine trees. I would need some decent storage space and a large solid table to draw on. A small fire place, and constant rain/thunder storms... that's my ideal studio environment. Beyond this dream a pencil rack in my current studio space would make me so happy!
What is your favourite/ least favourite part of the creative process?
My favourite part of the creative process is when things just click. I am sure all artists know this, but when you find that flow and everything you do just feels like your striking gold, that's the sweet spot. I find I can be so productive when I find that zone, so I try and take advantage of it when I can. My least favourite part... hmm... I suppose would be the opposite of finding creative flow. Often if I don't draw for a while, I find myself becoming disengaged and frustrated with myself as I cannot always easily find a way back in. When I am at this stage I am actively pushing against myself and somehow end up forcing poor quality drawing.
If you could time travel, what advice would you give the younger you, regarding pursuing your artmaking? Practice, practice, practice. Skill is only made better through practice. Also, there is no such thing as perfection (which sucks for me because I was, and still am, such a perfectionist with my artwork). How has your style evolved and what contributed to the changes? In the past I would often draw celebrities or figures that I admired or found I was engaged by their message/aesthetic. Now, my drawings are more focused on presenting an idea, or a personification, or an exploration. I explore my personal history and mythology as a basis for artworks. I only photograph friends and family for drawings, so the process is quite personal to myself and accessible to my audience. Regarding my style, in the past I would often use multiple different mediums, both alone and mixed. From oils, to acrylics, to watercolours, my work used to quite a range. These days I have refined my practice purely to graphite & I love, love, love drawing. Maybe this will change one day, but for now graphite is my go-to. What do you hope to convey through your work? I hope to convey a narrative though I am apprehensive about being prescriptive around what that narrative is exactly. I like my viewers to connect to a piece and make their own story. Other than that, I hope to convey a sense of love for the practice of drawing.