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Welcome to the first Lauren's Questionnaire. Lauren Daniels is an Art Producer at BBH agency in London and has been commissioning Photography and Illustration since 2008. To kick things off Lauren decided to quiz the incredibly talented and joyful illustrator Christopher David Ryan, or CDR as he is known.
Based out of Portland, Maine, CDR's work is simple, playful and graphic. Lauren fell in love with his work early last year and has been stalking him ever since on Instagram ! She was lucky enough to get ten minutes of CDR's time recently to answer a few questions.

Can you give our TMT readers a quick introduction to yourself and your work...where did it all begin?
My name is Christopher David Ryan… or CDR. It all began about 14 million years ago. The expression of consciousness that I refer to as 'I' began in Texas in the early 1970’s where I grew up. I left Texas for San Francisco in the mid-90’s. I spent about 10 years there before heading to Brooklyn where I spent some time as a director for a major retailer. Now I am doing my own thing in Portland, Maine.
Your illustrations are very graphic, what has influenced your style?
My style has been influenced by ever last little thing my senses have come into contact with. That may sound arrogant, but all of these things are what make me who I am. To be specific, my influences range from design and illustration of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to beats, jazz, philosophy and meditation. I am primarily into simplicity and emotion.
Where and how do you work best?
I work best in solitude. I feel like I’m still that small boy sitting in his room with the door closed drawing the hours away. I enjoy time with my mind… time spent just letting my hand follow my thoughts. I prefer that my ideas and my drawings just emerge naturally. I do not like to labour over them.

 

My favourite work just happens… with no sketches or planning… in one take. I do my best to try to stay out of my own way. I am far more interested in idea than execution. Ideally, the work just happens… no matter what tools are at the end of my fingers.

What are you working on at the moment ?
At the moment, I am working on a lot of stuff I am not supposed to talk about. One of the projects I can barely believe. I recently finished eleven tees for Uniqlo Japan… ‘souvenir’ tees for various international destinations… NYC, London Paris, etc. That was a great project. Mostly at the moment, I am just working drawing as much as I can. I’m also really enjoying Instagram. I feel like it’s like my own personal publishing platform.
My favourite project is your Sunday Styles, so simple, so joyous. How did this project come about?
Sunday Styles just happened by accident really. One Sunday morning I drew in the negative space of a fashion ad in the New York Times Sunday Styles section. I had a good laugh, posted it on Instagram, and then just kept it up every Sunday. After a couple of years, I am wondering if I may have exhausted it. I think it’s time to find a new idea.
What has been your favourite project to work on ?

I think my favourite of late was the series of illustrations I did for The New York Times that consisted of characters interacting with photos of watches. The project came directly from the visibility of my Sunday Styles on Instagram. What made the project so great was that it was a great opportunity for side of my work to move off of Instagram. And, I was given artistic freedom. Can’t beat that!
You have collaborated with various brands from Uniqlo to Friends Of The National Zoo, to Kate Spade. What would be your dream collaboration?
My dream collaboration has always been a hard thing to nail down. Honestly, one of those projects that I can’t talk about yet is pretty dreamy. Hopefully it moves forward so I can share it. At the moment what I’d love to do more than anything is work with Children’s hospitals. I would love to donate my time to decorate their walls and offer the patients my hug characters on their photos.
I see you've now opened up the 'hug' to your Instagram subscribers, Has social media changed the way you work?
Social media hasn’t really changed my work, but it has given it an outlet that it didn’t have prior to its existence. Ten years ago, it was great to have a website and try to get your url out. Now, with Instagram I can deliver my work right into the pockets of the people who have actually chosen to want to follow me. That is huge. You can now find your audience and interact with them in ways that once were not possible.

 

I look at my Instagram account as my work. It’s what is really happening. I have a thought, an idea, and I put it out to the world. Most of what I put out on Instagram is not my ‘portfolio’… it’s my WORK. I try to give people something that they might actually have a true response to rather than just a pick of some new project I did for the latest client. I see my feed as something similar to a daily comic in the newspaper… it’s my personal commentary on whatever I is on my mind.

I created the #CDRBIGHUG hashtag and started letting followers submit their images because I liked the idea of the interaction. I didn’t want my account to be exclusive, but rather inclusive. I actually enjoy doing it. I wish I could do more. It’s a manifestation of positivity, and I think that is the best thing I can offer.

I know you for your illustrations, but you're also a graphic designer, shop owner and music maker. How do you fit it all in?
It’s all one thing… it’s all the same process… I think and I make and repeat. At the moment, I am taking a hiatus from ‘design’. I’m just not that interested… but I will be ready when a design problem that I want to solve comes my way. I used to love doing logos and such, but now I am more interested in exploring my brand. I am my favourite client! I’ve got enough self-initiated projects to keep me busy for ages. I really only design for myself and the shop, More & Co., in which I am a partner.

 

When I get some time to work on music it is strictly therapeutic. There is a side of me that would like to pursue it more. I spent a lot of years DJing and collecting records. Now, I just enjoy carving out some time in my studio to lay down some beats or some ambient textures.

You live in Portland. Where's good for breakfast?
If you come to Portland, Maine… and you should… I recommend Tandem Coffee Roasters (yes, I did their logo), and also Palace Diner. Yum!

If you want to see more of CDR’s work, please do check out his Instagram feed, it’s a fantastic creative journey following his daily ins and outs and observations. It’s a great addition to any feed. And if your feeling lucky tag a picture #cdrbighug and you never know, you may get a great big hug!

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