Ballistic Publishing Artist Profiles show all


Like many talented artists, Ryan Church started his art career at a very young age (4-5 years old). With direction from his father, an industrial designer, Church developed his drawing and painting skills by copying images from dinosaur and spaceship books, and illustrating scenes from movies. "It really helped that my father was, and still is, an Industrial Designer", explains Church. "His enthusiasm and ability to show me illustrating techniques really allowed me to grow as a designer early on."

Church honed his abilities at Art Center where he learned as much from fellow classmates as he did from the instructors. Church graduated in winter 1997 and immediately started at Walt Disney Imagineering, working on blue-sky concepts for future theme parks and freelancing at Universal Studios. Five months later he started as a concept designer on a digital feature in production at ILM. Moving from Southern to Northern California, he worked in the Digital Features department, commuting to teach Entertainment Design at Art Center.

After two years working on various Digital Feature projects, Church moved into the position of Concept Design Supervisor that he holds to this day. "I started working on Episode 2 in December 2001", he explains, "providing backgrounds and rough matte paintings for the detailed animatics that were created for that film".

From there, Church's roles expanded and he contributed designs for vehicles, droids, architecture, and environments presented as sketches, sketch paintings and finished production illustrations. "In addition to my 'wrist' work", adds Church, "I would also go down to ILM and art direct the CG models, matte paintings, miniatures, and final shots that they were generating for the film. My biggest contribution was to the overall look and designs featured in the last third of the film. It was a real pleasure to see shots featuring my designs for large-wheeled droids and armored walking tanks as they fought each other onscreen."

Church describes his visual style as coming from a desire to be able to rapidly but accurately portray his design: "I love paintings that convey a lot of action and motion and depth; paintings that pull the viewer in and allow them to participate. Composition is key, leading the viewer's eyes across and into a painting while implying drama. I tend to like illustrations where detail is indicated rather than completely resolved, giving a very accurate but still fresh and painterly result."

Church's artistic progression started with drawing and sketching. He then got into painting, using mainly gouache and acrylic. "All through school and early in my professional career I honed my traditional media skills and learned different rendering techniques", he explains. "By the time I started working, computers were getting faster and cheaper and it soon got to the point that the benefits of digital illustration far outweighed the negatives in the work environment (even for personal projects)."
Church's style is also driven by the demands of his work environment: "Most of my work these days is done fairly loose and very quickly, which is dictated by my tastes and by the requirements of my daily job. I definitely like to differentiate the design of the 'object' (3D) from the design of the 'illustration' or 'shot' (2D). You can have a great design portrayed in a boring or sterile way and you can do a beautiful painting of the most mundane subject. The absolute best case comes when you have a great painting of a great design, that's what I constantly strive for."

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