See you Later, Decorator! An Interview With Scope Artist and Top Designer Ryan Humphrey, Part Two of Two

by Art Fag City on February 21, 2007 Events

Ryan Humphrey, SuperStore
Artist, Scope art fair participant, and Bravo Top Design TV reality star Ryan Humphrey continues to discuss the design world with Marie-Adele Miniot. Look forward to such quotes as “I just think there are really some things going wrong. But so did our founding fathers, that's why we're here.”, and “I don't think thinking is something that's inherent.” Sentiments to write down in your Daily Journal dear readers….

Marie-Adele Miniot and Ryan Humphrey: An Interview in Two Parts

AFC: So do you think your experience in the design world has moved your art even further in a more conceptual direction as a reaction against that?

RH: I'm a fighter. Like it or not, you take a lot of shit by being on a reality TV show. So for me like to sit there and kind of say, hey, it was all grand and fun and dandy, and it was, but there's also a whole other deeper, psychological thing that occurs. I'm not even speaking about myself. It was like getting a close-up, it was really an eye opener for the mechanisms that run our society. It was like a model, on some level.

AFC: The sort of cut-throat element of it or”¦

RH: No, it really wasn't cut-throat. A lot of the people on the show, it was like going to boot camp, you know, you bond. I think some of those reality shows are pretty harsh. I've seen some shows where there are a lot of physical challenges, and that's when people turn into animals. I don't feel like that occurred on this show at all, and I actually learned a lot about interior design, and a lot about what people have to go through. I have a huge respect for these people. They are incredibly talented and creative people. And good people. I don't know if you saw the press release, it's pretty abrasive, and that's just because that's the world I come from. The art world, you say things, and you don't really round off the corners too much. They're kind of sharp. I think the interior design world, and you can look at the publications and magazines, they don't really go there. There's no socio-political anything. There's no, okay, if you do this, this is how it's going to resonate here. They're not going to tell you that the wine cellar they created out of an old slave's barracks. They're not going to tell you that, but that's an incredibly important thing and an interesting thing, and I think you can address stuff like that. Somebody lives in a renovated shoe factory that might have been a sweatshop, it might have this long history, and I think you kind of can explore that in interior design. But oftentimes, it's like, okay, no, it's a blank slate. Maybe there's some markings on the wall or paint on the floor, we'll save that, that's history. But you never really get into the history of it.

AFC: Do you know of any designers who are working in that model that you're talking about?

RH: No, and the thing is, I'm not an interior design expert, nor would I ever claim to be. I have an Eames chair that I found on the street, that's been in so much water damage, it looks like a barn antique. There might be something going on there, you know, you hear about music theory, and I've read art theory. I don't know if there's interior design theory, it would be interesting if there was. There's architectural theory, but interior design is a little bit more afraid to go there. I'm sure there are artists who've done it, in terms of critiquing museums and that sort of thing. But in terms of interior design, you know, it's a tough place to be because you would literally have to have a client who would appreciate that and continue to rehire you every time they bought a house.

AFC: Right, and want to live with that.

RH: You know, Frank Lloyd Wright had the famous doctor who was always like, okay, it's several hundred thousand dollars over budget, it's okay, Frank.

AFC: Right, do what you want.

RH: Kind of, you almost need a patron. But if somebody said, look, I want you to redo my townhouse, I'd say, okay, but I'd have to maintain some autonomy. I would try to reach a middle ground. They might want me to do their guesthouse first because they're not really going to live there. They might have to treat it as an event”¦

AFC: Showpiece”¦ What are your plans after Scope, after you finish the installation? What's on your calendar for the next few months?

RH: I go to Dallas, I come back. I have a lecture in Dallas on Tuesday, and I come back Wednesday morning and start installing. And then, I'm going to do a show called Sensorium in March, and that's with this guy Kevin Ryan. He's a photographer, but he's putting together this show. That's really all that's on my roster. And making some new work, as usual.

AFC: Great. One other question I have because I'm sort of curious about this sort of thing: It says on your bio that you're an extremely hard worker, and I think that's very evident in your work because it's very detailed and all those things. But I was just wondering what your schedule is like, what are your work habits? I'm very interested in artists' work habits.

RH: I wish I kept a defined schedule. Today I should be working on some things for the Scope fair, and I will, but there's this backlog of emails and people who need photographs and phone calls to make, interviews to do. Pretty much, for me, I get up, and I'm thinking about artwork or stuff surrounding the installation or moving or the exhibition of artwork as well as making it. I basically get up and work and then go to sleep. And there are things I have to do in the meantime, like you have to figure out a way to survive, to make money. And I've been pretty fortunate selling some work this year, but you know, at Christmas time, I bought an entire truckload of old Schwinns in Ohio. My hometown is like a Schwinn mecca. An old factory there made a lot of parts for Schwinns, so they're everywhere. So every time I go home, I buy them off this guy who, I don't know where he gets them, yard sales or whatever. He's retired. I buy all of his bikes; I throw them in my truck; and I come back to New York and I sell them for a huge profit. And it pays for my trip home, and my time off while I'm home, that sort of thing. It's worth my while. And here I am dissing capitalism, and that's what I'm doing: finding a niche market and catering to it. (Laughter) I'm not ready to get my motor home out in the middle of the woods and forget about society. Don't get my wrong, I think it's a great society that we live in, I just think there are really some things going wrong. But so did our founding fathers, that's why we're here.

AFC: Well, that's a good place to wrap up, I think”¦

RH: Oh, I wanted to tell you. There's going to be an AC/DC — do you know anything about the exhibition?

AFC: At Scope?

RH: Yeah, I was reading about it this morning. It's If You Want Blood, You Got It? Is that the title?

AFC: Yeah, it's an AC/DC song.

AFC: Okay.

RH: I can't really talk about the title too much, and who it's directed towards, but I think you can put two and two together.

AFC: Right.

RH: That album cover is really interesting. If you read about it, that's the first record that they came out with after their first singer died. And I really like that it's an all black cover. It's a memorial in a way, without saying so, and it's probably one of their most popular records. That vitality, that need to survive, and not only survive, but come back and be as good as they were before. I think that ideal alone, using that as wallpaper, really says something about the person who would have that as wallpaper first of all. But second of all, you put something like, it's a simple idea; it's dumb idea; it's a pop culture idea. And you put that next to some Laura Ashley flowery nothing print. That's the type of urgency, that's the type of pressure I'm interested in. I think Laura Ashley is like, oh, you want big flowers, flower wallpaper, and color swatch books. And none of that's bad, it's just kind of empty in my opinion. I just wanted to get that out there a little bit, and I don't know if the press release really talks about that. I'm relying heavily on people like yourself to sort of expand on that.

AFC: Yeah, it sounds like”¦.I would imagine this moment in particular for you as a working artist, it would be important for you to express some of the results of the show. I don't know, I see the meaning there”¦

RH: The results of the show really have nothing to do with it”¦

AFC: Well, the impact on you specifically, or the lack of impact as the case may be”¦

RH: I think, how should I phrase this? It's going into press”¦

AFC: No, self-editing!

RH: Yeah, no self-editing”¦I just want to say that, I have higher aspirations for people, I guess. I think there's a lot of people exist in a spiritual void, and they try to fill it with consumer goods. Whether it be the latest, coolest, most rare Nike tennis shoes, or the highest end, five thousand dollar loveseat, I feel like these are things that are just not necessary. I think you're trying to fill a hole with some of this stuff, and maybe you should take some time to get to know yourself, and make conscious decisions. And I think people are taught how to think. I don't think thinking is something that's inherent.

AFC: Yeah, and one big problem is it's never enough. If you're trying to fill it with objects or things that are around you, it's just never enough…

RH: Yeah, didn't Ivana Trump have like a million pairs of shoes or something ridiculous?

AFC: I wouldn't doubt it.

RH: Don't get me wrong, money is a really great tool. It's an awesome thing to have, to be able to do what you want, I just wonder what the hell people are doing with it. Whatever, I could go on for hours and hours, and sooner or later, I will contradict myself. Better quit while I'm ahead.

AFC: Well, this is great. Thank you very much for taking the time out. I look forward to checking out the installation.

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