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Artist Series: Ryan Mettz

We teamed up with Ryan Mettz, a local tattoo artist at Greenpoint Tattoo Company in Brooklyn, to exlore his creative usage of the Only NY Paint Markers. Alongside being a tattoo artist, Ryan is also an oil painter who is inspired by the hectic activity seen during everyday life in the city.

We asked Ryan a few questions about his day-to-day and where he pulls inspiration for his work.

Only NY: Where did you grow up? If not NYC, when did you move to New York?

Ryan Mettz: I grew up in western Massachusetts about 3 hours from NYC. I had cheap rent there and I travelled constantly so it didn't make sense to move until that phase slowed down for me. Around 2015 I started coming to New York and working at Greenpoint Tattoo every week, I used to sleep in the shop mostly and I would spend half the week in NY and half the week in MA. I was really wanting to move full time in 2016 but I broke my hand that summer which set me back until the next summer.

Only NY: Where do you find inspiration for your art?

Ryan Mettz: Most of my paintings are based from experiences in my life which mostly take place in NY. Its like documenting my life similar to how photos do... Sometimes its based from a place I've spent a lot of time, or some specific thing that happened to me. Sometimes its more abstract like maybe based on some thoughts or feelings I've had about something. I get inspiration from so much stuff though, sometimes it could just be a random doodle that turns into an entire painting or some screenshot from a movie of something that strikes me. I also like to paint people that I find inspiring, I get really into people who have interesting stories to tell. Like I read an autobiography from Doris Payne who was a prolific diamond thief. I painted her in a department store stealing diamonds after that, its like by painting her in her world I can spend time there myself mentally, really explore it, and build out a scene telling a story. Its fun to do that.

Only NY: Could you speak conceptually about your work, it's influences and your process in creating?

Ryan Mettz: I never had any formal training in painting from school or something like that. When I was younger and I had learned about Margret Kilgallen she was such a powerful influence on me just making work in general, to make it all the time at all scales. Seeing other people do stuff is the most powerful motivator ever I think, cause you see someone do it and you're like wow I love that I could do that too, and I know I can because that person did it. Tattooing influenced my process a lot too. It taught me how to draw and simplify things so that you can tell what something is with the least amount of information. Also since tattooing is so line based, I pushed in the opposite direction for my paintings. I have rules for myself when I work on of which is to paint without using lines, and if there are lines then its because of some specific anomaly that I've decided needs to have lines.

Only NY: Do you have any plans to exhibit your work anytime soon?

Ryan Mettz: I don't have anything planned at the moment but I have been working on a large body of work for the past 10 months with the goal of having a show. I thought I was done making them all but now I realized theres more I should make so I'm still working  

Only NY: What’s your favorite thing to do in the city when you have free time?

Ryan Mettz: Depending on how I look at it I either have no free time ever or I have a lot of free time always, which i spend doing all my favorite things. I do tattoos at the shop 3 days a week and the rest of the days I spend in my studio or out filming skating. Its not like I have a strict schedule to adhere to so from an outside perspective it could seem like I have a lot of free time. Since I have to rely on myself to be disciplined and make things happen, I take everything I do seriously and I don't slack off ever. I surf a lot which I guess is something that feels free. But when I find myself with some actual free time where I'm not doing any of those things, I love to go to record stores. I'm really into jazz and the more I discover and learn, the more exciting it gets to look for records.


Photos by Colby Edwards.