Looking back, it seems obvious where Ryan was going to make his mark – and it wasn’t in the field of higher mathematics.

“I was always drawing when I was at school,” Ryan remembers.

“I would be sitting in Maths class but instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing, I would be drawing in the back of my workbook.” 

In the back of his mind, Ryan knew he wanted to make a career from his creativity, but sometimes you need a kick along to move dreams towards reality. Early in 2020 he connected with Bamara via telephone (COVID-19 limiting in-person contact) and found that he was chatting to a Case Manager he already knew, Lavena.   

“Lavena is great and it was like we just picked up from where we left off,” he says.

“She knows who I am, she is experienced in the field of getting people jobs and getting them into courses, and working with her and Bamara was absolutely useful. 

At one point I sent her a drawing I’d done and she rang me and said, that drawing is fantastic. I always hoped to do something with my art but lacked confidence. Lavena gave me a lot of confidence, and through Bamara she enrolled me in art courses. That has really given me a good push along.”  

Ryan is practical about the commercial applications of his talent. He hopes to start a business where he can create art pieces with commercial applications – for example, designing tattoos, creating pictures for canvasses, and drawing fan art for printing on Tshirts 

His passion is anime, the popular cartoon form that originated in Japan and has won fans around the world. His favourite character to draw is Goku, the main character from Dragon Ball Z.

“He goes through the most transformations in the TV show,” Ryan explains

He has a lot of different formsfight scenes and poses that look really cool. I enjoy all the anime and comic book stuff like Spiderman and Marvel characters.

“The figures are fun to draw, they’ve always got cool costumes, and if I can get close to what a professional has drawn, it feels good. When I am deciding what to draw, something about the figure has to stand out. For example, it might be a hand that looks really big and the body is small, so it looks like the character is coming at you.” 

Whereas his earliest works were done with a biro in the back of a maths workbook, nowadays Ryan leverages technology when creating his drawings.

He typically draws the outline of a piece directly onto an iPad, then fills the outline with colour. If he wants to change or erase a line, a two-finger tap will delete it, a much quicker and cleaner process than drawing on paper. 

He has also gone back to his old drawings. The most interesting pieces from the past have been photographed, scanned onto a PC, then moved across to ProCreate on his iPad where they are digitally redrawn.

“When I look at those drawings from 15 years ago, it makes me wish I had never stopped. However, they also show that I’m a better artist now,” he says. 

Born and bred in the Top End of Australia in the Northern Territory, Ryan thinks that the restrictions imposed by the pandemic have actually worked in his favour.

He has had more time to work on his art at home and feels that he is well on the way to establishing a viable business, with the support of Bamara.  

His most ardent fans are his kids, aged five and eight. His daughter watches him intently as he creates his images.

“I’ve taught her a few things, and she is really keen, but I’ve told her that she needs to get used to the basics of drawing on paper before starting on an expensive iPad,” Ryan says.

Perhaps he could find her a secondary school maths workbook to get started in.