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2022 Jul

Meet Carla Ryan, Artist & Mom

Meet a local artist who is also a successful entrepreneur.

This month we interview Carla Ryan, a graphic artist who specializes in drawing pictures of city skylines. She’s also a mother of three small children and an entrepreneur. Her mom reached out to me recently and shared some of Carla’s accomplishments. Let’s find out more about her.

Tell us about your childhood. How did you become interested in art?

I have been interested in art ever since I can remember. I grew up in a household where I was fortunate to have access to all sorts of art supplies and was encouraged to express my creativity. I loved to paint, draw, and create collages.

What’s a favorite art memory from when you were little?

My favorite art-related memory is when I actually got in trouble in elementary art class. During our free draw time, my classmates would ask me to draw on their papers for them so they could then color in my designs. The teacher frowned upon this since she wanted them to be creating on their own. I think what got me caught was that everyone had the same fishbowl with betta fish on their paper (my favorite thing to draw in third grade).

Tell us about your education.

I originally studied interior design, as that was an early design passion of mine. I switched to elementary education, with an art education certification. I loved getting to explore different mediums and learn new techniques and skills as a young adult.

What drew you to design skylines? Describe the process of creating a skyline.

I originally designed these skylines as a wedding gift for my sister-in-law to remind her and her husband of their hometowns. To get a feel for the different towns, I will often do Google searches and ask individuals who are from there what elements really make that area special. This allows for a truly expressive skyline when it has “locals’ favorites.” From there I get inspiration photos and create digital drawings on my iPad. I play around with the elements until it creates a cohesive design and then write the town name below.

You have your artwork on Etsy. What was that process like? Easy or hard?

Etsy makes it very easy to upload items for sale and is a great platform for those looking to sell their artwork. There are fees, but their large platform of shoppers makes it worth it to me. I have sent stickers to almost all 50 states, thanks to Etsy!

Why do you think the arts are important to a young person’s education?

The arts are essential to everyone’s education. They allow expression through so many different mediums. They can be therapeutic and are just fun! There are so many additional things that you learn through the lens of “the arts” that an education would not be well rounded unless they are included.

What can parents do to encourage their children’s creativity?

I would say just allow them the materials to play with! Don’t be afraid that they will “mess them up” or that it won’t turn out perfectly. I was lucky that if I expressed interest in painting or trying something, I was allowed to do so. This helped me build confidence as an artist and allowed me to find my favorite ways to be creative.

Do you pursue other kinds of art?

Painting is actually my favorite medium, but with young kids running around it isn’t the most practical. I am loving that in this season of my life I can create digitally so that there is no mess for the kids to get into and I can stop and start on a whim.

What are your goals as an artist?

My biggest goal is just to create because it brings me joy. The fact that others are enjoying my art is such a wonderful bonus. I would love to continue to expand my online presence and have my stickers and goods in more shops across the U.S.­—maybe even opening my own storefront one day.

What are the challenges of being an artist?

For me the biggest challenge is feeling like, if you are creative, you need to be able to create at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I just cannot get what is in my head to come out on the page. And other times people will ask me to just create something on the spot and I will draw a blank. There are other challenges, but trying to find creative solutions can be fun.

Visit www.etsy.com/shop/thirteenweeks

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and publisher of Tidewater Family Plus magazine. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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