Home Arts & Culture Ryan Henry Talks Joining Red Bull Doodle Art, Creativity, & More

Ryan Henry Talks Joining Red Bull Doodle Art, Creativity, & More

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Red Bull is diving deeper into elements of creativity, partnering with some of the most prominent artists in the country for Red Bull Doodle Art. A series promoting how doodling allows creatives to let their minds wander through artwork. The creativity develops into a national competition of “Where Does The Mind Take You.”

Ahead of the national competition, Ryan Henry took time away from his 9Mag tattoo shop and Black Ink Crew to spread knowledge on the creativity that pours from the mind through an art piece. Speaking with The Source, Ryan speaks on doodles, being a part of the Red Bull doodle community, blending art and business, and more.

The SOURCE: What attracted you to this Red Bull partnership?

Ryan Henry: It starts with being a Chicago artist, and then being able to be chosen to host, lead and judge a doodle art contest. For me, as an artist, that’s just an honor.

I was in the shop once and saw your doodling in your downtime. What is your go-to thing to draw now?

You know what, I can’t even say what it would be [laugh]. I think that as an artist, it has to be about continued practice. It’s the only space where we get better with time. I was just saying the other day, if I was at my full athleticism at 20 in the NBA, 20 years from now, it won’t be that. You hear the best song on the radio right now, it won’t be that in 20 years. But as an artist, continued practice will get you to be better. I might be a little old and crippled, but I will be at a better level of art because of the longevity of what I’ve been practicing.

You were careful about calling yourself a judge. Is that because art is subjective?

Well, I mean, it’s definitely subjective, and as an artist, the way I feel is like, yo, I don’t want to say what’s great. I don’t like the competition part of art. You know what I mean? I feel like whatever an artist expresses, is what that is. I respect who they are. So it comes with a grain of salt.

What’s your earliest memory of drawing or just doodling?

I think I’ve been drawing since I was about two. So I couldn’t even tell you it was. I was drawing shapes with my grandfather; I was learning light sources when I was four. So drawing spears and pyramids and light sources before I could read. That conveys over into starting to draw from memory. And this is where a doodling comes in, just let my mind free.

An aspect of drawing is now a profession for you. Tattooing is like higher stakes. You don’t have a canvas and open mind, you got a person’s body. What’s that preparation like for you?

I think it’s a blessing to have people come to you because they trust that whatever you create will be what they like. So hand in hand, anything you give me, I can convey that in my way, and it’ll be something that pleases you, hopefully, 99 times out of a hundred, I can make that happen. You don’t get to be a hundred percent free in creativity, but if you’re good at communicating with people, then they’ll be satisfied. It is a scary thing every time. It’s not just, ‘Oh, let me just go ahead and do this.’ No. Every new piece and every new client has to be satisfied. There is no days off.

Many people have an idea of you, from tv, real-life encounters, whatever case it could be. What would you tell somebody that could be following your path? And it may not be all the way full blown into TV and everything, but if they want to go own a tattoo shop or if they want to just dive into artwork or whatever the case would be.

I always tell people, especially, newer aspiring artists or someone who is modeling what I’ve done as an artist, to transition the business to just keep going. Because it gets strenuous, and then you’ll want to quit. You’ll begin to put it down. But what if you worked harder? What if you kept going? What if you work harder than everyone else around you? I only made it to television of notoriety because I was working hard, and it was seen from the hard work. So hard work and consistency will allow for success and better things on the back end.

As a business owner, it’s dealing with people and personalities. You know, as artists, we have a fear of a starving artist mindset. So it’s like, ‘Hey, what if nobody wants my stuff?’ or ‘What if I can’t make it good enough?’ So the understanding of that and the business methods in quarters and balance sheets. That’s when you have to buckle down and use your passion.

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