Sunsquatch Visits Their Creator
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We recently had the pleasure of visiting Christoper David Ryan, the Maine-based artist who designed Sunsquatch, and surprised him with his creation (“in the flesh!”). It’s not every day you get to meet your maker, and it was a thrill for all involved to witness this encounter. We sat down with Christoper to learn a little more about the mind behind the myth.
Hello, Christopher! Could you tell everyone a little about yourself?
My name is Christopher David Ryan. My friends call me CDR. I am a visual artist – I make a living with graphic design, illustration, art direction, and sound design. I collect records, so I even deejay a little bit.
Over the years my creative process has taken on a lot of variations, and at this point there kind of is no creative process – except for just a very general meaning of the term. There’s such a spectrum of work that I offer, one process can’t apply to all of them. Because of the variety, I kind of just have to go with the moment. I get the project, or the brief, and I think, “Ok.”
I try as much as I can to leave it open, and that way there’s room for discovery. If I’m just doing the same thing every time, it’s really not as fun for me. I like to challenge myself, as well. I’ve drawn characters for years, and I’ve never thought of them as “designing a character,” but when you’re doing it for someone else it becomes a design at that point.
This is the first time I’ve ever done anything that’s become 3-dimensional, and become an actual moving character with a personality. So, I had no preconceived idea of how I should go about that. It put me in a different place, because usually I’m in my own mind working on a character, but it was interesting to work with someone else.
What was unique about creating Sunsquatch?
It wasn’t for me, it was a character that I got to come up with, but it wasn’t for me. There was a desired outcome laid out – when I’m drawing for myself the desired outcome is specifically my own. But getting the creative brief, and some parameters to work within – I always enjoy it.
When you’re just working for yourself, the sky’s the limit, but having parameters made it not only enjoyable, but easy. Not easy as in quick, but there was an ease in making it. Because there was a brief, and conversations between Bridget and I about what we wanted to do, Sunsquatch walked into my head the same way they walked in through the door today!
How do you bring life to characters?
With Sunsquatch, there was a desire to have the character be approachable – to be bright and sunny. The simplest answers are often the best, and so we thought, “Let’s make Sunsquatch orange and yellow.” Those colors are already part of the ReVision brand, I didn’t need to overthink it. Sunsquatch is symbolizing the sun. That was quite simple.
We wanted Sunsquatch to be happy and loose, so there are simple, happy expressions and a big body, but no big muscles. Sunsquatch is easy-breezy – just hanging out in the sun. The expressions are so subjective, the life just comes through. I can draw the same marks a thousand times and I can see the differences in all of them. There are gentle nuances in curves that change the expression for me.
It’s exciting to see it come to life. I see it on the flat page, and most of the time when I draw a character they stay in that dimension. They don’t come alive, they don’t walk into the room, or interact with children in a Climate march downtown.
This is the first time I’ve designed something that’s become tangible like that – being able to see that, and knowing that it will live on beyond a single campaign, feels really good.