THE GOODS | #014–FW15

Name: Ryan Helstern / Smolik
Occupation: Artist & Designer

Ryan Helstern, also known by his artist name Smolik, feels a lot, he just won’t show it. But his unassuming demeanour is deceived by his illustrations; rife with friction chafing against institution and identity constructs while layered with subversive political messaging and heavy hip hop influence. But, then again, aren’t those really all the same thing?

At the top of his CV the “Education” sub-header reads (proudly and defiantly), “Fine Arts Illustration (incomplete) .. Graphic Design (incomplete)”. His proficiency for illustration and lettering is perhaps, if anything, fostered more by leaving school rather than attending it. The feeling of aftermath and consequence is prevalent across Smolik’s diverse portfolio of work. So, for someone with a more fluid learning style, it’s decisions like dropping out of two post-secondary programs that are fuel the fire. His artist statement describes his relationship with art as codependent to skateboarding and this sentiment is especially prevalent in his sketchbook tears. Free flowing and spontaneous, a phrase will lead into a portrait that is layered on top of a gritty texture applied in ink or watercolour. The fluidity of his workflow could parallel time spent cycling through a skatepark.

These days Smolik’s work has reached a period that is moody and graphic; geometric forms and familiar faces are obscured by foreboding ink puddles. The simple forms are layered with trepidation by titles like “Most Time You’ll Make It, One Time You Won’t” or “Give It To Me Before I Take It” - the undertone of consequence remains.

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