Born January 20, 1963 in Medford, Oregon, Mark Ryden grew up in southern California. Ryden studied illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He is considered to be one of a few artists who helped to lead a return to traditional painting techniques and a key figure in the movement called Lowbrow Art.
Early influences for Ryden include Dali, Magritte, Bosch, Rosenquist and pop artists. Later on, he developed a passion for more classic art including David, Ingres, Carpaccio, Balthus, and Bougerau.
Some parallel Ryden’s work to the art in vintage children’s books mixed with the whimsy of Lewis Carroll. Ryden himself says that he often finds archetypes in old books which later end up in his work, and that he is “attracted to things that evoke memories from childhood.”
One need only look at a Ryden painting to see that his technically astounding and disturbing images are many things at once – everyday objects and people, placed in unusual and surreal circumstances. Children, blood, raw meat, crosses, cuddly animals, toys, and other cultural symbols all come together to form a world where his characters “speak from a place of childlike honesty about the state of mankind and our relationships with ourselves, each other and our past.”
Ryden has designed album covers for the likes of Michael Jackson (Dangerous), and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (One Hot Minute), to name a few. He has also published numerous books as well as having his art featured in video games and feature films.
Ryden’s work has been exhibited worldwide and his paintings are in public and private collections. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles with his partner, artist Marion Peck. To see more of Mark Ryden’s beautifully disturbing work, visit his website at MarkRyden.com.