Ryan Hughes
BFA in Fine Arts Studio
Professional Painter
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

What was your major and how did you choose it? Was it the right choice?

Fine arts studio—painting. Yes, it was the right choice, it allowed me to really combine my various modes of making that create my paintings.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Aaron Van Dyke, he will blow your mind in ways you never even knew were possible. Right when you think you have something figured out, he comes from outer space and hits you with something to completely change how you were thinking.

Tell us about your internship.

I worked with painting faculty member and muralist Ed Charbonneau. During the internship we created a large-scale installation of paintings for the Medtronic World Headquarters.

Best thing you ever got/saw on the free shelf?

Hundreds of empty plastic containers with lids—perfect for paint.

Name your one biggest takeaway from MCAD?

The network you create and have access to while attending MCAD is priceless.

What inspires you/your work?

My work rides a line between graphic design and painting, so I get inspiration from varied sources. Music is also a big part of my pursuits, it isn't directly transferred into the work itself, but it's more so a means of helping maintain a certain flow that I enjoy. Other simple things that can inspire me are relaxing with my cats or just watching Seinfeld. Sometimes not working is the best way to get work done.

Has your work evolved since leaving MCAD?

Once I left school, I purposely stopped how I was painting visually. Conceptually I am still chasing similar ideas, but I felt it was necessary to veer off the path I had been on for various reasons. I easily get stir crazy over almost anything in life, so I welcomed the challenge of doing the opposite of what I was accustomed to during school. I feel like school just laid the groundwork for the work I would begin to make once I graduated.  

What advice do you have for current MCAD students?

Take advantage of all the access to the amazing facilities you have while you are at MCAD. Be prepared for what comes after school and how you will support your practice.

How do you network yourself and your art?

Half online, half in real life. MCAD put me in contact with many great people that I still work with today. Working with great clients helps word of mouth spread too. The majority of the projects I do or the work I sell are directly related to previous projects and people.

Do the Twin Cities offer many opportunities for creatives?

Yes and no. It's a little big city, it's a blessing and a curse.

Current obsession?

My cats.

In your own words, what is a self-portrait?

Anything that starts to chip away at who you are.