Ryan McGinness Charts His Childhood as a Skater and Illustrator

Artist Ryan McGinness describes his early study in brand consciousness.
  • Transcript


Question: How did your childhood influence your art?

McGinness:    Well, you know, because Virginia Beach primarily this skate and surf culture, it’s… a lot of the things that surrounds the people there are valued according to the brands, I guess.  And so from a very early age, I… from a very early age I was noticing how branding and logos and images on objects created or rather increase the proceed values of those objects and so, you know, certainly while I grew up at the beach and skateboarding, I was never really good at any of those activities but what I really… I guess was good at, to some extent, was kind of emulating those graphics and logos because I couldn’t afford the cool brand so I would make my own shirts and paint on my own skateboards and those objects in turn, almost ironically, became valued by other people and so there’s a… I started to understand how that worked and I wanted to assume that power and that’s what kind of leads me to my interest in graphic design.  And so from Virginia Beach, I was in Virginia Beach from kindergarten to 12th grade.  I went to study graphic design at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. 

Question: What did your parents do?

McGinness:    My father was primarily computer systems analyst and was also a stockbroker for awhile and my mother did a variety of odd jobs and she also made a lot of things that she sold, kind of crafts, you know, we had a garage full of jigsaws and sanding belts and tools, woodworking tools and so I was always in an environment of making things and creating things and furthermore making things for herself.  So a lot of my toys growing up were homemade toys, cars made out of chunks of wood with milk carton lids for wheels and things like that, yeah.