When Ryan Haywood arrived at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester he had never drawn before and he was intimidated by being around students who could draw so well. To say he has caught up is an understatement. Haywood’s work will now be seen by everyone who walks through the city’s downtown.
Intown Manchester has chosen Haywood’s designs for the 2011 Street Banner Program, meaning his work will adorn street light poles on Elm, Hanover and Commercial streets. The designs will be released gradually before a public unveiling in early to mid April, according to Samantha DePrima, director of marketing and public relations for Intown Manchester.
“His work is so amazing,” DePrima said. “He is definitely a rising star.”
It has been a meteoric rise.
As a student at Nashua High School, Haywood was, he says, as computer nerd who loved web design. After graduation he attended Full Sail University in Florida, which is renown for its innovative education. Haywood studied digital media and earned an associate’s degree, but in Florida he learned more than just computer skills.
A friend in the program was also a fine artist and introduced Haywood to drawing. It was at a time when Haywood was thinking of getting out of computers and getting his hands dirty. He decided to compromise and looked at fine art schools for graphic design. He looked all over the country. Then he heard about Lynn Pauley and the New Hampshire Institute of Art. He said Pauley’s works were graphic and had the typography look but were done by hand, not by computer.
“I gave it a shot and it worked out well,” said Haywood, who graduated in December.
During his time at the school, artist Jim Burke took over chair of the Illustration Department. Haywood said he has transformed the program and given the local school a national reputation.
But Haywood was intimidated when he began because he had never drawn before. He said Pauley told him that drawing should be like signing your name. You don’t sketch out your name or even think about it. You just write it. This advice has led Haywood to his unique style, which has been described by one critic as a combination of Ralph Steadman (the artist whose work is featured in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and the Impressionists.
“You can tell it’s mine because it’s like my handwriting,” Haywood said.
DePrima can vouch for just how memorable Haywood’s work is. When she began consulting with Burke about the idea of opening up the banner contest to NH Institute of Art students, she went on a tour of the school. Passing through the hallways she saw students’ works on the wall. When she saw an image of a frog, she stopped in her tracks.
“It was brilliant,” DePrima said. “The spots on the frog looked like they were going to pop off the page.”
DePrima did not know who drew the frog, but when she went back to Burke’s office to look at submissions for the banner contest she saw Haywood’s submission and said, “That’s the frog guy!”
Haywood said the project has involved a lot of collaboration among Burke, Intown Manchester and himself.
“It’s been a really good marriage,” Haywood said.
Haywood moved to Manchester in 2006. Since then he has spent a great portion of his time living, working and socializing downtown. He knows what makes it special and is trying to convey those feelings via the banners. He said the images, like one of a waiter, which was the first to be released to the public, are bold, simple graphics that are immediately recognizable.
“I want them to be upbeat and happy,” Haywood said.
As he continues on the project he is also growing his illustration freelance base and working on websites. He was grateful for the exposure the banners are sure to bring and the $1,000 prize as well.
“It’s really a dream job,” Haywood said.