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Gallery 1501: Meet the artist, Jay Ryan

One of the things I love most about working at the Des Plaines Public Library is being surrounded not only by tons of books but also lots of wonderful artwork.  The library is truly one of this community's best (and free) cultural resources.  

As a way to provide even more exposure to the visual arts, the library has a new art space on the third floor.  Dubbed Gallery 1501, the intimate space behind the elevators will showcase a rotating roster of professional, working artists with ties to the Des Plaines or items in our collection.  The goal is to expose patrons to local artists who have formed successful careers and make a living in the arts.  (Interested in exhibiting? Stop by the 3rd floor desk for an application and jury criteria).

The first artist selected for the inaugural exhibition was Chicago area illustrator, Jay Ryan.

Jay holding one of his prints

After graduating from University of Illinois in Champaign as an art major, Jay returned home to the Chicago area to pursue his passion for illustration.  In the mid-90's he started working at a local screenprint shop, Screwball Press.  In 1999, Jay finally started his own print shop, The Bird Machine.  As a musician himself, Jay initially worked illustrating posters for friends' bands.  As the interest in his work grew, so did his client base.  Known for his muted colors, concerned animals, and his particular hand-drawn design technique, Jay has worked for thousands of bands, including Andrew Bird, the Melvins, Shellac, Fugazi, Flight of the Conchords, Hum, St. Vincent, My Morning Jacket, and his own band, Dianogah, as well as clients such as Patagonia Clothing, Whole Foods Market, Burton Snowboards, and the BBC.  Jay's work has graced record and book covers, tote bags, t-shirts, posters, magazines and even the sides of buildings.  His style is unique and once you see it, you may start recognizing it throughout the Chicago area.

If you'd like to see some of his work in person, make sure to stop by the 3rd floor, behind the elevators, before the end of September.  On display are nine framed pieces that share his whimsical interpretation of a variety of creatures from bears to dinosaurs.  In the meantime, you can watch this fascinating short documentary on Jay in his studio.

Practice & Space Ep. 2 | The Bird Machine from Sergio Salgado on Vimeo.

Jay Ryan book cover

The Final Solution: A Story Of Detection

by Michael Chabon

This mystery features beautiful custom cover art created by Jay Ryan.

Jay Ryan Documentary

Just Like Being There

Directed by Scott Shannon

This DVD is a documentary featuring Jay Ryan and his work.

Jay book 1

100 Posters / 134 Squirrels: A Decade of Hot Dogs, Large Mammals, and Independent Rock: The Handcrafted Art of Jay Ryan

By Jay Ryan

A stunning collection of some of Jay Ryan's best work, published in 2005.

Jay book 2

Animals and Objects In and Out of Water: Posters by Jay Ryan, 2005-2008

by Jay Ryan

Jay's second book, this one features some of his favorite illustrations created during this three year span.

Jay Ryan book cover

The Final Solution: A Story Of Detection

by Michael Chabon

This mystery features beautiful custom cover art created by Jay Ryan.

Jay Ryan Documentary

Just Like Being There

Directed by Scott Shannon

This DVD is a documentary featuring Jay Ryan and his work.

Jay book 1

100 Posters / 134 Squirrels: A Decade of Hot Dogs, Large Mammals, and Independent Rock: The Handcrafted Art of Jay Ryan

By Jay Ryan

A stunning collection of some of Jay Ryan's best work, published in 2005.

Jay book 2

Animals and Objects In and Out of Water: Posters by Jay Ryan, 2005-2008

by Jay Ryan

Jay's second book, this one features some of his favorite illustrations created during this three year span.

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