Ryan Thomas Monahan
Ryan Thomas Monahan is an artist most known for his miniature sculptures: gritty, grungy street scenes completed in painstaking detail. A designer by trade who now enjoys success as a full-time artist, Monahan utilizes his knowledge of various fine art forms to create his stunning facsimiles. His pieces have been featured in Denver’s Black Book Gallery, and as part of the “COWBOYLAND” exhibition at heliumcowboy in Hamburg, Germany.
DOPE Magazine | You have a background, or current ground you could say, in graphic design. What inspired the move to such physically involved creations, especially in addition to a full-time job?
Ryan Thomas Monahan: Well, I have a strong fine art background that likes to poke through often [laughs]. I think after working as a full-time designer for 7 years I started to miss working with my hands. After working behind a computer all day, I would come home and not want to even see a computer screen. I would build little maquettes of things, and eventually started to make little robots and buildings, which kind of manifested into what I’m doing today.
Q | You have said many times that your work is fictional. Other than the obvious inspiration, what enticed you to create these particular scenes? Is there a personal significance outside of your artistic expression with these pieces?
A: Yeah, for sure! I have always had a love for the grungy/shitty look; I like to think back to my time living in cities and seeing these types of locations firsthand, and I feel like I have a connection with it. Aside from the seedling that starts the idea, it’s pretty much just a cool subject to look at. I think everyone can connect somehow with the subject matter, either good or bad.
Q | Is there a certain design, or part of a design, that you enjoy creating or sculpting the most?
A: I really love the final stages of a project—when all the hair pulling and stress is over, and it’s just putting the finishing touches on them. Up until that point it can be pretty rough tackling the many issues I create for myself, working in such a laid-back manner!
Q | What’s the average completion time for a piece? What has taken the longest amount of time?
A: It really depends on how solid of a plan I have—and how much time I allocate on that certain piece. On average, I’d say it takes about 3-4 weeks to complete a larger-size piece. The most time-consuming project has been the Adult Bookstore I did, “Humboldt St.,” that had a lot of interior details that took a lot more time to achieve than the average piece.
Q | Your overall portfolio is very creatively diverse. What are your main inspirations in life?
A: To wake up every morning and create something that didn’t exist before. I’m inspired by everyone around me, doing the daily hustle—either in an office or an art studio, doesn’t matter. I think I always get amped up to make anything when I see people being productive. Stay hungry for it.
Q | What was it like growing up? Have you always been artistic, did you have familial encouragement?
A: Growing up was pretty badass for me—I had the “cool” parents. They knew I was artistic as a small child, they supported me pretty much the whole way. When other kids were out in the sprinklers playing, I was inside drawing, so I’ve been making art for close to 30 years nonstop. It has always been my number one focus. Now, as an adult, I have to remind myself that my art has to take a seat next to my personal life at times; marriage, family, house.
“I’ve always been a productive pothead—from day one it’s been like a fuse to my creative cannon. I view the world better, differently.”
Q | What scale do you work in, and why do you choose that specific scale?
A: I like to work in various scales, but the scale I’m most known for is 1/24 scale, which is half dollhouse scale. The more I explore my art, the more I want to gravitate towards other scales and sizes. I hate the idea of being backed into a miniature corner and having to do one size forever. I started breaking out of that mold with some of my recent work, and I plan to just expand that more and more.
Q | Where would you like to see these miniatures take you? Say, in five years?
A: Things are going pretty well right now. I just started doing my fine art full-time from my home studio, and I really am enjoying it. I would love to get involved in the movie industry working on practical effects, I think that could be great fun.
Q | Does cannabis play any part in your creative process?
A: Yeah, for sure! I’m a habitual smoker, sooooo…cannabis is a part of my everyday process! I really enjoy smoking before I begin work the most, though—it helps bring me into the zone and really get to business on stuff. I’ve always been a productive pothead—from day one it’s been like a fuse to my creative cannon. I view the world better, differently.
To view Ryan Thomas Monahan ’s art and see what he’s up to, check out: ryanthomasmonahan.com | Instagram: @what_thehell