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Seattle Artist Ryan Henry Ward


Seattle Artist Ryan Henry Ward
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A mural artist takes us on a tour through the streets of Seattle, where he shares his art directly with the public. Learn more about his murals and his sources of inspiration. Reporter | Camera: Natasha Mozgovaya, Editors: Natasha Mozgovaya, Jacquelyn De Phillips

((PKG)) MURAL ARTIST HENRY WARD

((TRT: 07:12))
((Topic Banner: Art for All))
((Reporter/Camera:
Natasha Mozgovaya))

((Editors: Jacquelyn De Phillips, Natasha Mozgovaya))
((Map:
Seattle, Washington))
((Main character: 1 male))

((MUSIC/NATS))
((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

My name is Ryan Henry Ward and I sign my art Henry. I'm an artist located in Seattle. I've spent the majority of my life in the Pacific Northwest. I was born in Bozeman, Montana. I spent ten years of my life there and then moved to Washington with my family and have lived in the Pacific Northwest ever since. I've painted close to 500 murals, most of them within the city of Seattle but all over the state of Washington and then a handful of murals outside of the state.

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

I'm painting a Sasquatch and kind of a self-portrait, obviously. He likes his coffee. I like my coffee.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

There's a lot of Pacific Northwest and Seattle kind of elements in this painting. So we've got Mt. Rainier, which is a big volcano, mountain close to Seattle.

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

And then there's the Seattle skyline in the background with the Space Needle. We're the Evergreen State. So I put an evergreen tree in there.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

I actually enjoy people coming up and talking to me when I'm painting. I think it's really important as a public artist, someone who's out putting a lot of images out in the city and kind of defining a city with my imagery to like give people that look at it, a moment of my time, so they know that the person putting up the artwork is relatable. Sometimes if I'm on a really busy road where there's like a lot of cars, so it's kind of combating that aggressive noise energy and not allowing that into my artwork, so I can still present my soft, loving artwork to the world.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((NATS: Ryan Henry Ward, Seattle Artist))

They like it right under the ears.

((NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

I do get some graffiti on my murals from time to time. But my response has always been, I just go and clean it up. I'm very fortunate that I get the opportunity to paint murals in a big city. And big cities have graffiti and they got a lot of kids, you know, 14-year-old kids or whatever with spray paint cans running around. I've never really like gone super heavy critical towards them because I can relate. Like I remember being young and dumb and doing stuff.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

Right now, I think my favorite mural is the one right above my gallery here. It's kind of a really recent one and it just was completely what I wanted to do without any input. And that was really nice.

((NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

I got in this four-wheeler accident and it was an 800 pound [363 kg] four-wheeler. I went over the handlebars and I kind of went over this ten-foot [3 m] cliff and it flipped over and landed on top of me. I was underneath it for like a half-hour and as I was underneath it, it just kept squishing me. I was in a severe pain. So I had sustained a really bad, severe back injury from that accident. And I became very much a drug addict and got addicted to opiates and got addicted to alcohol and just kind of got into heavy, really heavy use of those things so I could originally kind of manage my pain. And then it just kind of shifted into addiction. I lived on the streets for a while.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

I felt like it was okay for a while. I kind of felt like I was thinking in terms of like, I was thinking romantically about it, like I was like a Beat Poet or something like that. Like I was thinking of myself more like a Henry David Thoreau or like a Jack Kerouac. I kind of had that like romantic ideal. So it wasn't like...I was kind of living in denial of my situation for a while. And then like the reality of it kind of sets in: it's hard out there and it's dangerous out there. And I saw a lot of brutal things, living on the streets.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

And yeah, it's been about ten years since then. I just live with a sober mind and I do all this artwork from a perspective of clarity, I guess.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

So the hair is kind of over his face and he doesn't have like high-functioning limbs and the colors are more muted. And so this is kind of like pulling on a feeling of like I still want to like participate and show up for the day but I don't really want to be around other people or I don't want to be seen.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

I didn't really want to be a traditional fine artist. I wasn't interested in like a, you know, gallery and museum kind of direction and exposure. I just wanted to do it my own way. And so I decided to kind of break and shift away from the “no contact with the art.” And so I created more of like a record store kind of feel to my place where you could shuffle through the art with your hands and it allows you to just dig in and kind of discover the art that you want. And then you get to pull it out and put it on a display wall.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

I'm working on an animation project and that's kind of like where I'm investing a lot of my time and energy right now, is into stop motion animation.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

I have the desire to share my artwork and my love and joy and experiences and everything with the entire world.

((MUSIC/NATS))

((Ryan Henry Ward
Seattle Artist))

There's a lot of feedback that I've made big impacts on people's lives with the work I've done. There's nothing really more fulfilling than knowing you're doing something good in the world.
((MUSIC/NATS))

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