Ryan Hawaii is an artist and fashion designer currently taking over grounds. Being inspired by punk in his early years, he sees his clothing items as pieces of art. Ryan believes it is the wearer who completes his creation and who gives his non-conformist prints and illustrations a context to live in. Growing from one-of-a-kind pieces to launching his first fashion collection this Paris Fashion Week season, the Ryan Hawaii brand is a promising one.
To those not familiar with your work, can you explain who you are and how you got to what you do?
I am an artist who works primarily in the field of fashion, clothing. I started out making one of a kind pieces, custom t-shirts for gigs that I was doing with my group ‘Neverland Clan’. More and more people were asking me to make these pieces and from there the demand grew. Eventually this led to me setting up a website and making pieces to sell to the masses.
Your work is loud, bold and disruptive like you are having something to say. There must be a vision before you make your hands dirty on your work?
There is always a certain energy I try to retain going into making a piece. A level of freedom and experimentation within the artwork itself. I figure, especially when using text within a piece, having some kind of interesting statement to make is best to prompt some thought to the viewer. As I look at a handmade piece as a canvas or a piece of art, it is the viewer that completes the artwork as well as the wearer which is an interesting space to work within.
Heavy on references, symbols and statements; What are the sources of inspiration you find yourself moving back to?
It tends to be whatever interests me heavily at that period of time. In my earlier work, Punk was a big influence; the rebellious attitude and D.I.Y methods of creating. But growing older and learning different things about the world, I became more interested in spirituality and mysticism and started incorporating that into my work. I also made my own visual language, a collection of symbols used regularly throughout my work which are diagrams for spiritual concepts and ideas.
What has been the favourite project you worked on and why?
Probably a large solo exhibition I did in 2016 in Hoxton Gallery. It was a huge space and they gave me complete freedom with what I could do with the space. Resulting in me making one of one pieces in the gallery space, building up the exhibition part by part and making paintings for the walls etc. It eventually became like a big hangout for loads of musician friends of mine and was loads of fun. Skepta came through and I gave him the first padlock chain, he’s been a big supporter of my work over the years. There was even a skate halfpipe in the basement!
Your work speaks an anti-consumerist approach through custom pieces and seeing clothing pieces as a canvas for your art. How do you think you can remain this non-conformist attitude while moving up the fashion’s ladder.
I wouldn't personally describe my work as ‘anti-consumerist’. I just enjoy to recycle and use what is already existing in the world, I do think I can retain a non-conformist attitude to a certain degree but growth and change is very important to me. I want to evolve - this is key. For me it is just most important to do my thing and remain true to my interests and beliefs.
Collaborating in Amsterdam, London, Toronto and Milan, you seem to be all over the place. Did any city you travelled to catch your creative heart?
Amsterdam is such a great place, there is a very strong creative community there which is very supportive of each other. I also do love London too, there are so many people taking it to the next level over here.
What can we expect from you in 2019?
More growth from the Ryan Hawaii brand. We’ve just finished our AW19 collection which is showing at Paris Fashion Week. Our debut jewellery collection, more art projects & generally more fire!
courtesy RYAN HAWAII
interview ANIEK STROEKEN
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