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Ryan Ormsby

Work / Graphic Design

“I love the imperfections, the grains and the stains": Ryan Ormsby on his creative approach

Ryan Ormsby is a graphic designer based just outside of the San Francisco Bay area who has accumulated an impressive portfolio of nostalgic, vintage-inspired posters. After discovering that a sociology degree wasn’t for him, Ryan took some time out to reconsider what he wanted to do. “I started taking some basic design classes at City College of San Francisco to see if that was something I was interested in,” Ryan tells It’s Nice That. The answer was obviously yes and, since then, the artist has been busy producing a large body of engaging and visually stimulating work. 


Bold fonts, grainy images and captivating designs pervade Ryan’s posters. “I am particularly influenced by old rave, punk, or metal show flyer aesthetics. I like examining older work and reworking it into my own in some way,” Ryan explains. In recycling old designs, the artist creates beautiful tapestries made up of snippets and fragments of the past. Ryan also draws inspiration by “looking at old documents where there are mistakes with how it was printed. I love taking bits and pieces from lots of different things, then reconstructing all these details into a new composition.” Guided by the idea that the new lies in repurposing the old, Ryan’s impressive portfolio draws on techniques of remediation and intertextuality.


Blemishes and flaws are at the heart of his art, as Ryan celebrates perceived weaknesses as elements that add character and intrigue to his work. “I love the imperfections, the grains, the stains, the textures in those artworks. Adding these components gives the design more life and dimension,” he says. For Ryan, creative processes are playful and instinctive, rather than a binding commitment: “I just take the Bob Ross approach and mess around to get some ‘happy accidents’ and go from there.” The artist compares his creative approach to diamond cutting, chipping away at the edges until the final product feels right, both visually and emotionally. It is through this organic creative process that Ryan embraces the aesthetic value of imperfection. He urges the viewer to rethink traditional conventions of taste and judgment, and re-evaluate what is “good” and “bad” design. 


“It’s important for me to convey a message in some way, whether it deals with a social issue or a personal issue. I could either internalise how I feel or let my emotions out in a healthy manner. My craft helps me express whats on my mind. My art is a form of therapy, really, and it helps keep me somewhat sane.”

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Ryan Ormsby

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Ryan Ormsby