I found out about the gifted Ryan Tova Katz after seeing other street art photographers post her murals. I felt instant admiration and started following her Instagram account. The first thing I noticed is that Ryan seemingly looks for the beauty in life, as her art depicts happiness. She is also a fellow traveler and has painted murals in nine countries. How cool is that?!
I like the way she thinks — “I want my art to make people look deep into a space, to notice something different every time they see it. I like to take a bold color and place it where it doesn’t seem to fit, to give the painting movement.”
Ryan is a multifaceted artist
Aside from murals, Ryan keeps busy painting signs, private residences, schools, commissions, and more. I enjoyed browsing her website, swooning over the gorgeous private rooms and nurseries she painted (I wish I wasn’t a renter). Ryan is also a philanthropist, founding a non-profit organization called the “Blossom Youth Foundation.” Read more about this wonderful achievement here.
Question and answer session
The Internet is a blessing when it comes to interviews, especially since I’m hearing impaired. Enjoy this one-on-one with the engaging Ryan Tova Katz.
What age were you when you realized your career path would be art-related?
I was a senior in high school and learned how to make a grid. That allowed me to measure space in a way where I could turn my ideas into proportional images. From there, I decided to enroll at Kent State University as a fine art painting major. Directly after graduation, I started painting murals and traveling the world. Bartering murals for hotel stays let me live that amazing life for many years.
Your public art makes me so happy when I look at it. Who or what are your inspirations?
Thank you, that is the goal of my work. I feel so unbelievably lucky to be given the freedom to design what I want the world to see. My inspiration is happiness. I think there is enough suffering, racism and ugliness surrounding us all the time. I want to show unadulterated whimsy, typically children of all colors, ages and circumstance. I place them in colorful scenes where they hold the magic to inspire a smile on a stranger’s lips. I want every passerby to remember their own child wonder for just a moment.
I know you have a family including two children. How did you stay focused for them and yourself during quarantine?
Yes, Milo is almost three years old and his big sister Aveline is 10. We did a lot of baking, fort building and too much tv. But I’m grateful for all the extra hours I got to cuddle my children because nobody could leave the house.
Have either of your kids displayed signs of mom’s artistic ability and/or love of art?
Ohh, Milo is very into coming on ‘Mommy’s meetings’. So far, he has gotten to ride in a scissor lift, paint public walls, gotten shoulder rides on rooftops, and of course he’s a tape measure pro 🙂 My daughter likes to look me up online and every once in a while she asks me “are you famous yet?”
Personally, I would love to see more of your large-scale art scattered throughout the city. Any other murals in the works?
Oh yes! Peak Properties is supplying me with as many walls as I can squeeze in between my other clients. Many more to come this season! It might be time to get some help soon.
I’m completely enamored with your newest mural “Butterfly Girl.” I sense the process of creating her has been a loving endeavor. Who is the model and how did you come to bring her into existence?
I ‘met’ a family via Instagram when they posed in front of another mural of mine in Edgewater entitled ‘Everything Will Be OK.’ I started following them. One day, I was searching through images of anyone who had children for potential models. When I came across the photograph that is the butterfly girl my heart skipped a beat. Typically, I reach out to families and ask for a photo shoot, but the look on little Olive’s face spoke to me. She had such power in her eyes and her little stance screamed of the old soul inside. I reached out to her mom, Hannah, about a year before the mural was painted to ask permission to use her image. The rest is history.
What are your art goals for the rest of 2021?
I have quite a few murals lined up this year and everyone is being very patient. It’s more about juggling child care for us now. My daughter is still in remote learning and my 2-year-old just started two days a week of preschool, which helps. So I squeeze in murals when there is time, when the sun is shining, and my body has healed from the last job. My husband, Fabrice, is a huge support. He pushes me to be the best version of an artist I can be. To say something with my work but also maintain some self-care (I’m not very good at that part). Murals are extremely physical work. I hope there will be many, many more works that speak as loud as the butterfly girl does this year. She is my new North Star.
Thank you for sharing parts of your life and work with me, Ryan. Your art and point of view makes me feel like everything is going to be ok. I can’t wait to see what you do next!