Success of Romford pop artist

�The name of acclaimed artist RYCA might not mean anything to most people, but you have probably seen some of his handiwork displayed on the outside of London’s pubs without knowing who created it.

RYCA, aka Ryan Callanan from Mercury Gardens, Romford, has worked in the sign industry for the last eight years, designing and manufacturing old-world-style pub signs and the fruit of his labours can be seen all over the capital.

“Most of them are pub signs in parts of London like Soho and Camden and when you are in that area its almost like every five minutes you actually go past my work.

“But I like it that people don’t know me because it just means that they are admiring my work and pubs are such an important part of British culture.”

Iconic moments

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Ryan, 29 has been working under the alias RYCA for five years.

He has also made his name by creating limited-edition screenprints inspired by iconic moments from the Star Wars films, pop culture and art history.

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Now the artist is set to fuse his background in sign maufacture and his RYCA art in a new exhibition called The Symbols Won’t Save Us, which is on at the Ink_d Gallery in Brighton from Friday, June 17, to Sunday, July 10.

The exhibition is a collection of Ryan’s new work examining the role of signs and symbols in the contemporary aesthetic environment.

Its also the first exhibition to open under his real name.

He said: “I feel like the time is right to do this exhibition because I have been working now and its about five years down the line so I am trying to establish myself.

“The exhibition is completely different to my work as a sign artist and RYCA. It’s more looking at the role of symbols and signs.”

Ryan took an unconventional route into art. Rather than studying traditional fine art at university, he instead stayed at home watching videos of Star Wars and Only Fools And Horses.

Star Wars

But his creative awakening came in 2002 when he did a course in sign art at Barking College.

Ryan’s first taste of success came when he sold his limited-edition screenprint Reservoir Troopers – a work heavily inspired by Star Wars, which is his favourite science-fiction film.

This propelled his career forward and since then his print editions have become extremely sought after.

Ryan said: “Reservoir Troopers did really well and even now I still get people wanting the image.

“Its inspiring that my work actually sells because the only thing you ever heard was that artists could only make money once they had died.”

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