Ryan Gander has established an international reputation through artworks that materialise in many different forms, ranging from sculpture, apparel and writing to architecture, painting, typefaces, publications and performance. Alongside our collaboration with him, we wanted to find more about his creativity.
How much of your art is shaped and influenced by your childhood, adolescence and university years in Manchester in the 90’s, and your time after studying in the Netherlands?
I think for everyone, our experiences colour our idiosyncrasies. That’s what makes everyone different, and difference makes the world ace. Personally, I reckon that young people have a more valuable mind than ‘grown olds’. When we are given a question as a ‘grown old’ we often answer the same answer as the last time we answered it… It’s a lazy rhetoric. The world now moves around us at breakneck speed… so it makes sense that the answers would keep changing… Kids are less conformist. They ‘try out’ answers, see how they sound and what reaction they get to them, or what effect is gathered from them… I want that, that would be my superpower: a malleable mind and imagination.
“Time is not as tangible in the mind of a young person, its not running out..”
As such a well-known multi-disciplinarian, how easy do you find it to switch between such radically different artistic mediums on a regular basis?
It’s the only thing I know how to do properly so it’s incredibly easy for me. I think doing the same thing every day, like being a painter, would be mind-numbingly boring for me. It’s so normal to want to try new stuff out that it doesn’t even seem necessary to give it a label to me. By definition ‘Art’ is multi-disciplinarian. I would say if I wasn’t multi-disciplinarian, if I did one thing repetitively it wouldn’t be creative… merely practice. You only live once. Make the most of it I say.
Can you share with Creative Atlas some of your most surreal or bizarre examples of when and where artistic inspiration has struck you?
When I command it to, almost always when I sit at an empty table with a sheet of empty paper. By happenstance, almost always when I am in the shower or bath, doing the washing up, driving a car, or falling asleep – which are all the places where I don’t have the sedative of phone robbing me of my attention.
Your children obviously played a large part in the design of the collaboration with City States – how much weight do you attribute to the idea that children are creatively uncorrupted by the constraints of adulthood?
They don’t have the baggage—cultural baggage is a heavy load to carry. They don’t have the sigmas of elitism… the stigmas that they are ‘wrong’, so they don’t have the embarrassment of voicing their readings of the world. But most of all they are free of procrastination. Time is not as tangible in the mind of a young person, its not running out’ so there is no need to worry about wasting it. ‘Grown olds’ think about doing something rather than just doing something because they don’t want to waste time, but ironically we are happy to sit looking at our phones for endless hours with no affect or purpose.
“..that would be my superpower: a malleable mind and imagination.”
You’ve had such a distinguished journey throughout your time as an artist, does anyone in particular stand out as a formative mentor or key artistic influence?
I’m a collage of influences. The people I am most grateful to the ones that threw me when I was a tiny snowball. The velocity they gave me made me pick up a lot of momentum, gathering snow on this downhill journey. But at the moment I am really into Victor Papanek.
As part of our ‘Creative Atlas Conundrums’ – what creative tool would you bring if you were stuck a desert island for a year?
Someone to talk to? Are you allowed people? Not great referring to a person as a tool though…