Words by: Chelsea Green
Photos courtesy of: Ryan De La Hoz
Ryan De La Hoz is a San Francisco-based artist with a really cool vibe about him and his work. He may ring a bell to some of you The Hundreds fans out there, because his work was featured in the artist collaboration section of our Fall/Winter ’11 magazine with cover girl Jessica Clark. Ryan’s pieces are fun and intriguing, and sometimes dark – combining paper cutouts, characters, and intricate patterns that will make your eyes cross. Along with having shown at art galleries in and around San Francisco, the US, and worldwide, Ryan also runs his own online t-shirt company called Cool Try. The t-shirts are RAD! I’ve got a growing collection within my own wardrobe and I wear one at least once a week – no joke. So if you’re the type of person who’s into awesome artwork and wearing t-shirts (hey, I know there’s some people out there who aren’t into t-shirts at all. They’re called nudists), then this The Hundreds Chronicle is for you. Read on to see what Ryan has to say about his artistic process, what inspires him, where he’s been and where he’d like to go!
How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
I am terrible at this! Super flat “drawings” that look like gouache paintings/illustrator. I deal with varied topics such as loss, hope, isolation,the destruction of natural resources, myth, magic, the pursuit of happiness.
I have an affinity for the Reaper because my last name de la Hoz means “of the sickle,” and when I was little I attributed a sickle to the Grim Reaper’s scythe.
What mediums do you usually work in?
Most of the time I am using cut paper and ink on paper exclusively.
Your newest work is very different from works prior – can you explain?
I think every shift in my work is slow and happens naturally over time. It is all inner-feeling and hard to explain. I can see that it is slowly moving away from figurative work and merging into a more abstract realm, although I do like to acknowledge earlier elements and let them reoccur in new pieces.
A lot of your previous works incorporate skeletons, witch hats, and grim reapers. What was your inspiration for that?
I am interested in Halloween. The basis of it is similar to the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico. The idea is that you are celebrating the gift of life from the dead. People go wild because they are happy to be alive. My Dad died in 2005 and ever since I have been analyzing the duality of life and death – love and loss – joy and misery. I use the skeleton glove to signify the remains of a person or society that is no longer. I have an affinity for the Reaper because my last name de la Hoz means “of the sickle,” and when I was little I attributed a sickle to the Grim Reaper’s scythe.
What is the significance of the ladder often seen in your work?
I use the ladder to reflect on personal journeys whether that be entering or escaping from oppression.
You seem to grab a lot of inspiration from your childhood. Anything in particular?
Picasso said “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Childhood is a time free of the trappings of adulthood and I strive to hold on to simple ideals like “stopping to smell the roses” and maintaining wonder. “Excited Forever” is a motto of mine – or at least never leading a life of quiet desperation.
How do you come up with the patterns you often use in your work?
Time. My only goal is to wreck your brain.
What made you decide to branch out and create tee shirts for your line Cool Try?
Tee Shirts are just fun, you know? I try to keep things very light with the Cool Try stuff, never too serious. The pieces are almost anti-fashion in their execution (Big block-y graphics etc) and not very sleek. I don’t do seasons or anything. I also like to make shirts for random holidays like the “Mom” shirt is for Mother’s Day and it is just the raddest old photo of my Mom on a shirt. Cool Try shirts are basically a dude with zero computer design skills having a blast.Cool Try is an inside joke. Do you want in? You’re in! Cool Try is a positive state of mind.
Things get heavy, you know? Things fall apart. You just have to rise above. Get busy living or get busy dying.
How did you come up with the name Cool Try?
Cool Try is an inside joke. Do you want in? You’re in! Cool Try is a positive state of mind.
Who have you collaborated with?
I made a Cool Try shirt for Terroreyes.tv my favorite music blog. It was a Baphomet with a Basketball. Super dumb (fun!). I have also done a few collaborations with Alex Martinez which involved me taking an x-acto knife to his prints. I have collaborated with Little Paper Planes and Minted.com for print releases. I collaborated with Sex Is Disgusting Records in the UK on the artwork for a 7 inch release by the band Human Hair. I did a two page spread in Beautiful/Decay Magazine and The Hundreds magazine! See my website for more.
Favorite projects you’ve worked on?
I was first published in an issue of FLJ magazine in Tokyo. Seeing that in real life all the way from Japan was a real kick in the head.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
At this point – Spain. I have never visited. My father talked about it all the time so it has become this mythical, magical place in my head.
How do you want you and your art to be remembered by?
Introspective. Things get heavy, you know? Things fall apart. You just have to rise above. Get busy living or get busy dying.
Big plans for 2012?
I’m working with Tide Magazine in Germany on a Cool Try feature in the May issue. I’m also going to be working with www.fab.com in May, it is Cool Try related and I can’t say much at this time. I’ll be doing shows in San Francisco, San Diego, and abroad. Keep an eye out!